ARGUABLY, the strongest caucus in the Yoruba movie sector right now is Odunfa and the life president is Alhaji Yinka Quadri. On Friday, February 4, 2011, ENCOMIUM Weekly was at home with the role interpreter on Odunfa Street, Ebute Metta, Lagos and he opened up on what makes the caucus tick.
What are you working on now?
I am working on my movie which is quite entertaining and educative. It is also a romantic one. The title is Baba ka mi mo won (Father, count me among them) and I am also working on another movie entitled, Ona lo jin.
What is the movie about?
I am not so good at using enticing words to narrate my script, but one major assurance I can give my fans who have been following the thrillers I churn out, such as Afonja, Abule Sowo, N150 million, etc, is that this one is more entertaining and educative than the others.
Unlike other actors who produce one hit movie and become irrelevant, you have been able to sustain your quality as an actor and producer, what has been the secret?
First, I would say it’s God. My background really helped me. The Islamic teachings I learnt from my parents really helped my career. The second is dedication. I am highly dedicated to my work. Even as a veteran, I still act and produce like someone who is just seeking limelight. Even the young artists and producers in the industry ask me why I act like someone who is just seeking fame; that I should relax because I have made the name already. Anytime I am invited to a location, I get there even before the producer. I don’t think of any other thing than my work. After prayers in the morning, the next thing that pre-occupies my mind is my work. Also, anytime I am on set, I endeavour to get the script on time, digest it and work on it so as to inject life into my role. Whenever I am producing, I invite my workers and share the script with them. We then share ideas on how to make it better. I am open to objective criticisms and advice. Even when they commend the scripts, I sit down and ask myself if they are right about that or they are just flattering me. That is the secret of my success.
It’s interesting to know that the strongest caucus in the movie genre is Odunfa, what informed this?
I give glory to God. The first reason is honesty, dedication and love. Those three attributes are the reasons we are the strongest and a force to be reckoned with in the Yoruba movie genre.
Odunfa caucus has churned out stars like Funke Akindele, Fathia Balogun, Saheed Balogun…
(Cuts in) There is no magic behind it. In the Yoruba movie genre, if I remove my senior colleagues like Baba Wande, Lere Paimo, Oga Bello, Jide Kosoko, others after my set have a link here. Aside the fact that I am a creator, I discovered that it was a divine assignment to raise stars. I discovered that most of the artists who are affiliated to me rise to stardom. 85 per cent of stars in the Yoruba movie genre passed through me or Odunfa Caucus.
It’s like you have done your homework well. This caucus has remained vibrant and my leadership is okay because there is love among us. We formed this caucus in 1987. Myself, Abbey Lanre, Ogogo, Rasak Ajao and others came together here. Prior to that time, I had been a leader in Lagos Island. I guess that’s why they nicknamed me chairman. And that’s how I became the leader. However, I don’t behave like a leader, but like a servant. During deliberations, we all sit like colleagues and share opinions. We go out together and catch our fun together. We move this caucus together. We don’t hide anything from one another and do not give room to envy. That’s why I said love, honesty and dedication are the key attributes that sustain this caucus.
A lot of people wonder what’s going on between you, Ogogo and Abbey Lanre because they always call you the big three.
Love brought us together and binds us.
What are the challenges you face in the caucus?
Thanks for that question. As a leader, I realise the role of God. That is why Ogogo and I are here. But when an industry expands, there are bound to be chaffs among the wheat. Among the numerous artists that passed through the place, we have seen some people whose mission was to create disunity among us. Some would say I prefer the leadership style of Ogogo and same would say Yinka Quadri. As matured friends, we know they are pretenders whose aim is to sow discord between us. Thus, we ignore such people. As a leader, it takes a lot of endurance, cool-headedness and application of wisdom to avert discord. At times, some ladies try to sow disunity in the caucus. Some would befriend me and still meet Ogogo secretly for a relationship. But because we don’t hide anything from each other, we get wind of the ploy and nip such an act in the bud. It amazes them that instead of creating rancour here, love prevails.
What are the steps taken to curb the negative stories flying around some of your students who have become stars?
If you see a true student of Odunfa Caucus who has imbibed the teachings of the caucus, they don’t’ swim in such scandals. However, you can’t change or take a person’s personality from him/her. It’s like a notorious student, he could comply with your rules out of fear of expulsion, but once he graduates, he puts on his old nature. But a good student of Odunfa would imbibe our characters. Our motto here is, House of Wisdom.
How have you been able to handle your female artists who flock around you?
Yes, some people desire to befriend me because they feel a particular lady shot into limelight because of her closeness to me. But I am a principled person. An adage says, ‘Not all palm trees would a tapper climb.’ It is not all that glitters that is gold. It is not good to befriend someone because she seeks favour from you. It is all about principle. I define my relationship with my female students. I tell them that I don’t have to sleep with you before I assist you. It’s a divine assignment. I will only lose my integrity and honour if I befriend all of them.
- This story was first published in ENCOMIUM Weekly on Tuesday, February 8, 2011