• Monday, February 26, 2024
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Ololade review: A thrilling classic with loose ends

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Olóládé, a Yoruba word that means “The wealthy one has come” aptly captures the plot of the newly released Nollywood TV series by the same name.

The Netflix original produced by TNC Africa and directed by Adeniyi Joseph ‘TAJ’ Omobulejo, revolves around the lives of two friends Lateef and Shina who suddenly came into wealth from two separate incidents which unleashed their true characters. It is a tale of how people unravel when they are handed riches they are least prepared or qualified for, but which they feel entitled to.

It is a familiar theme in most Nollywood movies, especially those told in local languages, however, there is more nuance to how the originators of the show choose to tell the story.

Olawale Adetula, co-founder and CEO of TNC Africa says Olóládé is a homage to Nollywood classics.

“We are a tech and data-enabled company and our research shows growing demand for content similar to what many of us grew up watching – pure TV drama with no frills. We believe that a good, well-told story will find a home with anyone regardless of their location or language. We hope that Olóládé will further increase the demand for and ultimately lead to the production of more premium content produced in Nigeria’s indigenous languages,” Adetula said.

TNC Africa tried its hands as a production company in 2017 when it collaborated with RED TV to produce ‘Our Best Friend’s Wedding’, a romantic comedy-drama on YouTube. It wasn’t until 2020 that Adetula rebranded the company from Naked Convos to TNC Africa to be defined as a film and TV production company committed to telling original African stories. TNC Africa would go on to create a fiction podcast based on a series of short stories Adetula had written nine years earlier. The podcast was later turned into a video web series, ‘My Name is A-Zed’ that would eventually earn an AMVCA nomination. The company also produced another web series ‘Little Black Book’ which also earned two AMVCA nominations.

Olóládé is arguably the biggest movie project TNC Africa has done since it pivoted in 2020 and the first work on Netflix. While the plot is not new, it makes an effort at originality.

The 6 part series begins with suspense; a night scene in which two figures whom we later come to know are Lateef (Femi Adebayo) under the watchful eyes of Big Mummy (Mercy Aigbe), is digging a shallow grave to bury a body. It progresses with the introduction of Adeshina played by Frank Donga as a disgruntled class teacher who is unhappy because his wife earns more money than him. He cheats on her with his colleague Amaka.

Read also: 12 best Christmas movies to watch on Netflix in 2023

A few more opening scenes set the stage for two characters with little moral scruples and their future of hide and seek. The 6 episodes are dedicated to the roller coaster of twists and turns confronting their final fate.

Lateef and Shina’s characters are given more show time throughout the series’ entire episodes, hence a lot of space to develop. But the same can’t be said for some of the characters. Some characters were introduced that didn’t make any sense to the plot. An example is Amaka, Shina’s side chick who struggled to stamp her place as an important part of the story and always came out looking like an afterthought. The introduction of Abosede, the village girl Shina’s mother insisted he marry to give him a son, didn’t help the distinction of the role Amaka was to play.

Amaka’s relationship with Shina is at odds with reality. She has only dated him for two and half years but somehow, she is willing to move into his house while knowing he has a wife and a daughter and Iya Shina wants to bring a village wife for Shina. In her desperation, Amaka will go to the lengths of conniving with Alagba, the shady spiritualist to get a baby boy so that Shina will marry her. All her antics don’t come out convincing in any way. Throughout the show, Shina gives the impression that he is not really into Amaka as she is into him and that loves his daughter and is not desperate to have a son despite his mother pushing him in that direction. Shina’s mother, Iya Shina, also never liked Amaka as a daughter-in-law.

Ihotu, played by Debby Felix, is one of the mystic characters in Olóládé. The first time we see her is in the first episode inside a bank hall where Shina has gone to carry out a transaction. Her business in the bank is not stated but what is prominent is her engagement with Shina who is trying to flirt with her. She encourages him but quickly shields her face when she spots a man with a briefcase. Shina does not notice this reaction or the man and when he turns around to look for her, perhaps in the hope of getting her contact, Ihotu is nowhere to be found. A few seconds later, his phone is beeping with an alert of N50 million. How did Ihotu make the transaction without asking for Shina’s account details? Who was the man Ihotu was hiding from and what relationship did she have with him? Is he part of the dreaded Black Lions?

The transfer of the N50 million, the lavish spending and the sudden reappearance of Ihotu in Shina’s life demanding her money in later episodes dominate the audience’s interaction with Shina as a character. Lateef also got a big payday after he helped Big Mummy bury the body of Laide whom she killed in a jealous rage. Big Mummy makes him swear never to reveal the secret of Laide’s death to anyone. But, how is Lateef going to keep the secret from Risi (Olanrewaju Ayanwale), the best friend of Laide who happens to be his girlfriend and later fiancee?

While Olóládé is a classic case of the Nigerian phrase “money miss road” one wouldn’t help but wonder, could it have been told without recourse to black magic? The introduction of three different ‘Babalawos’ seems like an overkill. Also, Ihotu whipping out a totem-like charm to kill Big Mummy was underwhelming for a tough-talking character who is never a distance away from her heavily armed bodyguards.

If there was one thing that worked for Olóládé it was the interpretation of the characters by the actors. Femi Adebayo did a great job interpreting his role as Lateef. Olanrewaju Ayanwale was also outstanding in her role as Risi. The ending in episode six was unexpected. The element of surprise discovering that Sade, Shina’s wife, may have cheated on him and had her baby out of wedlock builds the anticipation for the second season of Olóládé.

The movie hung around the top 10 trending movies in Nigeria for only a few days and has now tailed off.The second season needs to do better.