Legendary Nigerian filmmaker and storyteller, Tunde Kelani, clocked 68 years on Friday, February 26.
TK, as he is famously called, has a career spanning more than four decades. He worked as a BBC TV Reuters correspondents in the 1970s. After finishing from the London Film School where he studied filmmaking, he returned to Nigeria and co-produced his first film called The Dilemma of Rev. Father Michael (Idaamu Paadi Minkailu) with Adebayo Faleti.
In 1991, Tunde Kelani started his own production company, Mainframe Films and Television Productions – Opomulero, so he could produce films and not just lend technical support.
To celebrate his 68th birthday, here are eight evergreen movies produced by him. There are of course several others more.
Ti Oluwa Nile
Ti Oluwa Nile is often referred to as the movie that made Kelani’s Mainframe a household name. The 1993 production, which is divided into three parts, is about a clique of land speculators who enlisted the help of a traditional chief to fraudulently sell ancestral land to a businessman. The community resisted and took the case to a law court. But then, in retribution, the culprits start dying one after the other in bizarre circumstances suggesting that they are linked in a chain of death. Ti Oluwa Nile stars Kareem Adepoju, Dele Odule, Lekan Oyedepo and Ayo Mogaji amongst others.
Ayo Ni Mofe
Ayo Ni Mofe is another classic released in 1994. In two parts, it tells the story of Jumoke, (Bola Obot) who prefers a careless and irresponsible man, Ayo, (Yomi Ogunmola) to a wealthy elderly trader (Lere Paimo) in marriage. Ayo in a reckless move, impregnates an under aged Adunni (Yinka Oyedijo) which leads to a hurried doomed marriage. Jumoke is rudely shocked when she discovers this state of affairs. Shock leads to confusion, confusion to depression and Jumoke ends up as a lunatic roaming the streets.
O Le Ku
O Le Ku is a timeless love classic that centres on the love triangle between Ajani, a final year student in the university, Asake, a teacher, Lola, a first year student in the university and Sade, Ajani’s childhood acquaintance. The 1997 film stars Yemi Shodimu, Feyikemi Niyi Olayinka, Pauline Dike and Omolola Amusa.
Welcome Mr Kunle Afolayan, the man that would later become a Nollywood colossus.Saworoide was released in 1999. The movie is set in the mythical Yoruba town of Jogbo where a person cannot be crowned king without the Saworoide (talking drum, brass bell) being played by the right person. The move stars Ayantunji Amoo, Kunle Bamtefa, Kayode Olaiya, Yemi Shodimu, Kola Oyewo, Lere Paimo and Bukky Wright. It is the first time many heard of Kunle Afolayan and Khabirat Kafidipe. A sequel, Agogo Eewo, was released in 2002.
The 2001 movie, Thunderbolt, centres on Ngozi, a young elegant Igbo lady and Yinka a young man of Yoruba origin who meet and fall in love during the National Youth Service. Their eventual marriage, against folk wisdom, soon develops problem fuelled by rumours of extramarital affairs which destroy trust between a devoted Ngozi and a jealous Yinka. In the ensuing drama, Ngozi is laced with Magun, the mysterious and fatal chastity control spell which will make her sexual partner die instantly after sexual intercourse. The movie stars the likes of Uche Macaulay, Wale Macaulay, Lanre Balogun, Bukky Ajayi and Ngozi Nwosu.
Arugba tells the intriguing story of Adetutu, a maiden faced with many responsibilities. She must juggle her role as Arugba (the calabash bearing virgin) in the annual community festival with her studies at the university. She must also care for an ailing and grieving friend. Other plot points include Adejare, a demanding king, Adetutu’s blossoming musical career, and her growing fondness for a gifted artist named Makinwa which places a strain on Adetutu’s relationship with the other members of her all female musical group. The 2008 film stars Bukola Awoyemi, Peter Badejo, Segun Adefila, Kareem Adepoju and Lere Paimo. The movie won an award at the 2009 Africa Movie Academy Awards.
Maami (My Mother) was released in 2011 and met with positive reviews. The movie is based on a novel of the same title, written by Femi Osofisan, and adapted to screen by Tunde Babalola. It stars Funke Akindele, Wole Ojo and Olumide Bakare. The film which is set two days before the 2010 World Cup tells the story of Kashimawo (Wole Ojo), an international soccer player as he comes to terms with his painful childhood, reflecting on his mother’s love for him in the midst of poverty and deprivation, and his estranged father. The film received four nominations at the 7th Africa Movie Academy Awards including Best Nigerian Film, Achievement in Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Child Actor. It also received six nominations at the 2013 Nollywood Movies Awards and won two for – Best Indigenous Movie and Best Indigenous Actress for Funke Akindele.
Starring Kemi Lala Akindoju, Kunle Afolayan, Bimbo Manuel, Yomi Fash Lanso, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett and Seun Akindele, Dazzling Mirage was released in 2014. It is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Olayinka Abimbola Egbokhare, modified to screen by Ade Solanke. It tells the story of a young sickle cell patient and the various social and emotional challenges she is faced with. Dazzling Mirage has been nominated in the Best Costume Design category at the forthcoming Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards.