… Much ado about Okafor’s law
The much awaited Okafor’s Law by Omoni Oboli is lighting up the cinema screens across the nation, and fans can’t seem to get enough of the movie. In a typical Omoni Oboli style, the build up of publicity for the movie had been ongoing since she went on set shooting the movie early last year, but nothing would have prepared us for the drama that ensued following the injunction served by the court to stop further publicity and the subsequent exhibition of the movie. This is particularly intriguing because it made this movie, Okafor’s Law, with all the fanfare, the first ever to premiere without actually showing the movie. This heightened our expectations, and I don’t know of any Nigerian, due to the actions of the court, who hasn’t now heard of Okafor’s Law. The drama naturally raises the question, “what kind of movie is this that is so strongly contested for?”
When Omoni took to Instagram to announce the stay of the junction, many openly showed their support of the talented actress, screenwriter, producer and director, by flocking to various social media to express themselves. Even with the details of the case so far not yet made public, many debates on the matter went on privately and publicly. Surprisingly, many lawyers have also made their voices heard, stating their final verdicts, when the full details of the case are still unknown to them. This and other factors, like the fact that Omoni has proven in the past that she can deliver on quality of productions and content, especially with the success of her last movie, Wives On Strike, has seen the mass influx of movie goers to the cinemas to watch Okafor’s Law.
Omoni’s success with her movies has been especially noted because, where other movies have done great at the box office during festive seasons, her movies have defied the usual poor sales expectations of the non-holiday periods. We saw that happen with Wives On Strike, which was also released in the heart of a fuel crisis and the beginning of a recession. This is no mean feat! Omoni has lived up to her hype as truly a box office queen. The cinemas have seen such an impressive turnout, with many enthusiastic movie goers being turned back from watching the movie daily because they thought it was a family movie. Unfortunately, the Censors Board rating has kept many who are under aged, who would have added even more revenue to the swelling cinema takings, away from watching, and very disappointed.
So what about the movie? Okafor’s Law came with its own flavour; the story concept isn’t new, but then I don’t think she intended it to be, but the infusion of ‘Nigerianness’ in the dialogue, the chemistry between the actors, the distinct characters of each actor, and the way they all owned their lines made it impossible to put a finger on the money scene, or the actor they would point out as the most impressive (typical of her movies), so that each viewer is left to draw His or her own conclusions on what made the story great for them. Nevertheless, a few lines, like “don’t be a stranger”, “the sugar box is closed for business”, “you must drink pepper soup”, and some others I can’t readily remember right now, have somehow become the new additions to the ever growing ‘Naija’ everyday vocabulary and social media hashtags. This is the stuff great movies are made of, and the big box office movies have displayed this same traits.
Like her earlier movies, it’s impossible to sit in the cinema halls without being infected with the laughter and unhindered commentaries that fill the theatres with each scene. With the new cinema culture, Nigerians seem to have found a community within these cinema halls where these movies, like those of Omoni Oboli’s and a few of her colleagues, have been able to bring us together and drown the noise of the many societal issues that serve to divide us. The cinematography was on point, and the general feel of the movie, so that the scenes and the dialogues became our focus, and it entertained! The desire to have the movie longer was something a few in the hall would entertain, and that’s how good the movie was. Movies like what we’ve been dished lately have taken the everyday Nigerian experiences, and beautifully served them into storylines that we may have known, but have never felt connected to them. With Okafor’s Law, there is a definite connection to the plot, especially the well crafted dialogue that had us all laughing uncontrollably, thinking and learning something new.
I can’t think of any other way to show appreciation to the Nigerian filmmaker than to come out of the movie with a happier look than when you first went in. The experiences of the audience show that you can’t tell them what makes them enjoy their movies. It takes that understanding of the Nigerian humour and delivery of the characters to move the crowd, and that is something hollywood movies can’t seem to deliver to the Nigerian audience. That’s why these Nigerian movies are reaching a wider audience within Nigeria than the higher quality foreign movies. To Omoni Oboli’s Okafor’s Law, I have one word that sums up her movie; impressive! There’s something quite satisfying to know that Nigerians are producing works that you can proudly present anywhere in the world, and the reviews from the Toronto International Film Festival have proven this to be true.
Okafor’s Law is a definite must-see, and not a dull moment in the movie. The future of Nollywood is certainly bright, and the movie industry is beaming its great light in shaping the Nigerian culture and economy, and with the four beautiful movies so far, Omoni Oboli is right in the middle of it. Well done!