While we dined the (many) goodies from last Christmas, Obi Emelonye was directing Nollywood’s leading actor, Enyinna Nwigwe surrounded by able-bodied army officers in what would likely be the biggest film of the year or perhaps, Nollywood’s movie of the decade. History is about to be told through the camera lens of a man who believes the nation needs to re-live a truth which comes to mind just once in a year.
The August 1985 forceful takeover would forever change the course of Africa’s most notable country. Grenades, guns and disaster. When I do meet with Obi Emelonye, my first question will be, “why did you decide to make a movie as this (even at this time)?”
The foremost director and producer is avalanched with complex workloads, having just released a medic TV series, Heart & Soul, he is set to release a biopic that narrates the life of retired Army General, Ibrahim Badamasi Babaginda and the infamous military coups. My curiousity-driven inquiry, “Why did Obi Emelonye pick Enyinna Nwigwe to play the role of IBB?” I have already gotten an answer to. The maker of award-winning films would very precisely, rather have Enyinna play this role as he believes almost only him can.
I really only got to know much about “the-Nollywood-actor-with-the-most-box-office-movies” just two months before now (I’m sorry; I am among the one-percent of Nigerians who didn’t see Wedding Party). Truly, I have been MIA. But he is like a textbook you really want to read from cover to cover; quite an interesting personality. After all the catching up I had to do, I concluded that Enyinna Nwigwe is like what happens backstage of a fashion show – organized chaos. He has the energy of one-and-a-half Anthony Joshua and the fact that he can be in two different places at the same time blows my mind!
Enyinna VS IBB
I’m glad everyone now knows why Obi Emelonye picked Enyinna to portray the role of IBB in the forthcoming BADAMASI: Portrait Of A General, well, I thought I pointed that out — just so when the critiques start pouring in, we know who to hold.
What does it take to play a notable (and controversial) role as IBB? For starters, when a beardless, uniform-clad Enyinna appeared on set wearing transparent aviator glasses, you knew right away he didn’t come to play.
When you can successfully transform yourself to look like a believable 1970/80’s version of IBB and then act the part perfectly, we will hang your frame in the hall of fame. By the way, why do Nigerian army generals tend to have gap teeth? Enyinna has a Madonna-esque gap teeth in this film paying close attention to details in this transformation-required project. Rita Dominic’s transformation for The Meeting was impressive. Who else has done a transformation (that wasn’t “forced”)?
I inquired from Enyinna himself to know how he was able to prepare for a role as this. He told me of his initial plans to meet and speak with the actual Babaginda; to ask questions and understand his personality and body language, but was unable to do so. “I had to make do with whatever materials (videos) I could lay my hands on from the internet. That guided me in developing the character.” He said. Obi Emelonye had contacted Enyinna long before this movie got into works, as I learnt. Hopefully, the actor who termed his appointment for this role as “Grace,” got enough time to visualize and perfect his characterization.
Logistics, Economics and Political consequences
Foreman Obi Emelonye, I believe had gone through some procedures before starting this production: ensuring all protocols were duely observed and facts, double-checked. When FX network released American Horror Story: The murder of Gianni, the Versace household debunked the movie’s story line stating clearly that information portraying the famous designer were false. Same has been the case for several biographical films shot from around the world. Telling the story of a historically-based character can sometimes be tricky, when a director’s artistic vision vary even slightly from actual occurrence especially when [occurrence] not particularly documented.
The countless uniforms, regalia and ammunitions used in this movie makes it worthy to win “Best costume” (how about that to start with). With virtually no CGI or green screen in place, Emelonye had to ensure he had many men on ground with an outpouring of movie extras, after all we can now tell that the Spartan warriors in 300 were ridiculously multiplied.
Nollywood is now telling more stories that need to be heard, painting more pictures that need to be seen but a boundary pushing project usually requires roof raising effort if a ground breaking result is to be achieved.
Yinna is absolutely the best. Worked on two sets with him, each spanning about two to three months. He’s at the top and his work ethic is second to none. Yet he’s the playmaker. From how he relates with everybody — be you a co-star or the cook; he’s an absolute gentleman. He is a team player, yet he’s his own team. We call him “Mr. Cinema” for a reason. Also, I think you’ll find that “Is Enyinna single?” is the most FAQ for Nollywood on Google in the last half decade. – Gatuso J.K.A
A movie as this takes an entire village, massive funding, sponsorships, partnerships and guts to make. In the name of art (and Jesus Christ), a relentless Obi Emelonye pushes through (where there is a will, there is a way, right?)
In this month, FASHIONISTA! Magazine sets to interview the daring filmmaker, where we will have an in-depth conversation about this capital intensive production. Budget, box office expectations and much more we shall discuss.
As this historical film receives final touches with a trailer underway, we prepare our minds to be totally blown away. In 2019, movie-goers demand satisfaction for every penny and are in fact the first line of fire-spitting reviewers. The buzz is already building with the hashtag “Badamasi is coming.” What will be the cultural and political perception when we finally see it? Will Enyinna prove himself again? Obi Emelonye has one major task, and that is to ensure every minute is worth it. It’s all or nothing.
Badamasi: Portrait Of A General comes out November 29, 2019.
The Countdown begins…