Withdrawn and occasionally boisterous, Kunle Afolayan is definitely living up to the illustrious legacies left by his late father. This economist turned movie maker speaks with Azuka Ogujiuba on balancing the taxing schedule of film-making and demands of family
It’s hard to find an artiste scoring so high with his debut and subsequent works as Afolayan had done. So, you would imagine he will stick with a style he is apparently more comfortable. His recent movie, Phone Swap, is a thriller – a somewhat shift in theme from his first two works. But it has surprisingly struck a chord with the audience. “As a film maker I think it’s very essential to be versatile in what you do. I have done two serious movies in the past; while Irapada is a drama, Phone Swap is a thriller. And they are quite two serious movies, so I try to come out with something that is more on a light mode so that people can see the other side of what I can possibly do.”
Of course, the successes are evident in the screening attendance and the numerous awards his movies have scooped. “Well, for me, different award platforms have their parameters used in selecting; but I believe that I’m not really particular about the acceptance. It’s the people’s acceptance of my film. So at this time I’m more particular about the commercial value and with that the awards and nominations will come.”
After starring in Tunde Kelani’s Saworoide, all seems to have looked up for Afolayan. That, some fans claim, was the motivation to try his hands on production. “I will say yes, because I started with one of the best in the industry and there is nothing like when you’re being nurtured by the right person. That has helped me a great deal.”
Afolayan is never in a hurry to churn out works. He releases a movie every two years on average. But he is not averse to yearly release. “If someone gets a script today and you are comfortable with it and think it can fly, I need three months for pre-production, casting, getting your location, getting the right team to work with, because there are certain people that I work with, and if they are not available I have to wait for them and all that. So that will take a while, then the shoot proper which will take nothing less than five to six weeks, then post-production will take like another two to three months. So, like I said the script is the foundation – If you have it you can determine a time frame; but if you don’t have it you can’t determine a time frame.”
.Beyond the challenge of writing movie scripts, shooting and producing it, he also finds time to unwind. When asked about what item he can never do without on an island adventure, he responded heartily: “My laptop, my phone, because I doubt if I can have pure pleasure without having to be a bit official. But those two are very important. If it’s a place I can play basketball, I will go with my ball and my swimming trunk. But I have really never planned a holiday because I find myself all around work. But I like France very well, and Milan. I’m planning to go. We submitted Phone Swap, so if it’s selected and I can afford the ticket, why not? I will go.”
But as much as he enjoys the good life, he doesn’t exactly have a weakness for designer wears.
“I’m not a designer person; I only go for what suits me. I’m not one of those guys who look at labels. But if I see something that is good, I don’t care who designs it – I go for it. That’s me.”
His warmth, good looks and, some say, kindness understandably draw a lot of admirers, among them ladies. How does he cope with pressures especially from female fans? “Nothing like it because I have been married for like six years, so how can a lady do anything to seduce me.
Really, I have never experienced that, maybe it’s not my nature to get such advances and, by the way, I’m not a musician. It’s only musicians that get such things from their fans. If I was Tuface or D’banj, that would be different. They see us and appreciate us; that is all. Someone like wizkid is a young chap so he will have many girls that will have to chase him here and there. But for some of us who are even too busy on our paths, we can’t. In fact, these days because of the pressure of work, I’m always forgetful to the point of not being conscious of what I buy, how I look and all that. That is because I spend much of my time working in the office.”
Does Afolayan still remember some of his most romantic moments like his first kiss ever?
“I can’t remember that one,” he said, laughing. “It’s been long and I really can’t remember,” added the father of four children.
“My wife, her name is Tolulope Afolayan, is from Abeokuta in Ogun State, and she is an IT consultant. And my kids, Eyiyemi, the first seven years old; Diekoloreoluwa is the guy and he is six years old; Darasimi is five years old and Oluwadari is one year. I have four kids, two boys and two girls.”
Would he call himself a romantic? “I doubt that. In fact I’m not. Because my wife complains all the time that I am a bush man, and bush people are not romantic. I’m not the type that will buy rose flower or that will propose to a woman with the words: ‘I got this for you as a surprise.’ I’m not also the type that will say I’m going to work, take your farewell kiss.’ Those are the signs of being romantic and I don’t do them, so I’m not.”
But that should not imply he is not a loving husband, he said. “I’m a loving man because being a loving man is different. You can appreciate and show love in different ways, but being romantic means you have to follow some standard procedures and do things that people do or that you are expected to do to show that you are romantic.”
He may not be a designer freak, but he certainly has a huge love for shoes. “I’m not an accessories freak; but I buy shoes a lot. I’m a shoe freak. Anytime I travel, I buy shoes even if I don’t buy anything else. And I have more than a hundred pairs.”
He also used to be a car freak. But not anymore. “That was when I had not set up this company. When I set up the company I realized that all the money I make goes into equipment and other things that have to do with my work. I have been using one car now for like four years and I didn’t buy another one. I have another Dodge Magnum, but I realized when I bought the car I was the fourth person to own the car in Nigeria. King Wasiu Ayinde also has that car. But, you know, I used it for six months and it developed an electrical fault and since then it has not been rectified. So it actually made me grow tired of buying expensive cars. I’ll rather spend hugely on expanding my company.”