By Chinwe Obinwanne
It was a movie about a blind poor girl who lived in the village and was also a sculptor. Somehow, a rich young man saw her and fell in love with her. He did all he could to possess her for himself and soon they both were head over heels in love.
While I watched this Nollywood movie featuring Genevieve Nnaji as the poor blind girl, my mind raced. I had seen this movie before, I thought. But not with Genevieve as the actress. Suddenly it hit me. The blind girl in the movie with the same storyline I watched was Amisha Patel. Hell, it wasn’t even a Nollywood movie but Bollywood.
Yes, I’m a Bollywood fanatic but I’ll definitely pause for at least a second to critique something I see them doing wrong. The romantic in me has kept me glued to mostly the old Bollywood movies with intense storylines. So how in God’s name wouldn’t I have seen Humko Tumse Pyaar Hai? The same movie that was copied to a T by our prestigious Nollywood.
You see, I understand that sometimes writers experience writer’s block. It has happened to me countless times. It also happens to even the best fashion designers. But at times like this, if say a fashion designer relaxes and goes through works of fellow designers he admires; inspiration may kick in to create a very modified and different piece from what the latter has.
The designer or even writer doesn’t just up and copy verbatim the design or concept of another because in journalism we call it plagiarism.
That is the crime most of our Nollywood movie scripts are guilty of. A crime that a certain Nollywood producer/director committed when he boldly walked atop the podium at the 2014 AMVCA to collect an award for a movie script he copied from Bollywood.
There are more than six Bollywood movies acted out in Nigerian format. What actually aggravates me the most is the infusion of the downright unrealistic into these movies.
Since when do Nigerians go into the bush/forest to sing to our lovers, lie down in grasses and dress in sequined shiny clothes to play love?
Has Cold Stone creamery vanished? Whatever happened to all the beautiful and classy restaurants, fast food joints and beaches where lovers spend time? In truth, how many of us can even sing or think of writing songs just for the purpose of singing in bushes? That is far from who we are as Nigerians, so why portray a picture of what we are not to the entire world?
I can almost see the shocked look on the faces of the original writers of these movies scripts we so unashamedly copy.
I believe without any shadow of doubt that talents are rife in this country. But I don’t know if it is the need for quick money or lack of patience or just blatant disregard for the intelligence in Nigerians that see us being thrown movies that make us wince in absolute disgust.
Movies are churned out on a weekly basis with many having names that cause one to nearly rip their hair off in frustration. Yet again, there are a select few that you watch and just can’t believe it came out of the stables of Nollywood. Talk about ‘Dry’ by Stephanie Okereke-Linus. Just the trailer has shown it is addressing a serious ill in our society. One we can all relate to.
These select few give us hope that something good can indeed come out of Nollywood, but how long do we have to wait?
How long before the talented are allowed to showcase their talents not just for their own gains but for the upliftment and positive recognition of our movie industry?
It’s been decades since this child Nollywood was born. It is also high time this child is allowed to grow in the proper way to compete head to head with its western counterparts. As with everything born, this child has no choice but to grow and if taking away some of his toys (easy-to-snag scripts, actors not worthy of the name etc.) that make it easy for him to remain a toddler will do it, then it needs to be done and fast.
It will be a huge injustice to this nation if our grandchildren meet the Nollywood we have now. Enough said.
About the Author
Chinwe Obinwanne is first a storyteller and a journalist. Currently doubling as the Director of Operations for male clothing Dozzy Couture and Freelance Copywriter, Chinwe believes that life is interesting if we live it one day at a time. You can reach her via email firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn