Vanessa Obioha

Again, that bubbling neighbourhood on the Lagos Mainland, Surulere gets another round of media attention. This time around through the motion picture and this is both instructive and deserving, as Surulere has the distinction of providing the launch pad for Nollywood.

The Audrey Silva Company’s (TASC) recent flick Suru L’ere (Patience Pays) is anything but boring. Even if the title is generic, director Mildred Okwo applied her creative skills in telling a refreshingly funny narrative that clearly depicts the ‘get rich quickly’ syndrome among youths in our society. The romantic comedy revolved round a young chap whose pursuit for wealth was fuelled by a chanced meeting of mistaken identity with a young ambitious indolent lady.

The drama opened with the lead character Seun Ajayi in an abandoned state of sleep in a noticeably chaotic office. Papers and clothes strewn on the floor, an incessant ringing mobile device, and of course, a half-clothed Ajayi snoozing on the floor.

From there, the director meticulously navigates her audience through the well-woven plot, from the outright ridiculousness of Arinze (Seun Ajayi) to the complicated delusions of grandeur of Brume (Gregory Ojefua), the story exudes hilarity in all forms.

Known for her usual style of using comedy to address social values and issues, like she did in her first TASC debut ‘The Meeting’, Okwo drew indelible strokes with this storyline. On one hand, it brings a strange familiarity to the screens: a horrible boss like Brume- a kind many will not want to work with- and the struggles of Arinze his employee to meet up with his incessant demands as well escape the snares of poverty. On the other hand, it mirrors the present social and economic landscape of the country: bureaucracy in workplaces and the vivid imagery of poverty.

It is against this backdrop that Okwo accepted the script from Richard Odilu. In all its fictitious fabric, Odilu’s story carries an element of reality. The writer revealed during a press screening that Arinze is a fictional representation of his struggles as young man while Brume, the mean boss is an encounter of a friend in his work place.

Well seasoned with domestic comedy, Suru L’ere in a nutshell introduced a new kind of rom-com that is unpopular in our film industry. For instance, the scene where Arinze had to memorise his boss’ lunch order by reciting it endlessly and even coining a nursery rhyme in order to avoid the wrath of his conceited boss.

The dialogues are sprinkled with new and catchy lines that will quickly register in your mind or if you have time, jot on your mobile device or notepad. The language is a fluid mix of English and indigenous language, although some of the characters struggled in delivering the right accents.

However, the trump card for Okwo in this movie is her peerless cast who wore their characters like a second skin. From old to new faces, Okwo takes the pleasure in casting her characters in never-seen-before roles. Imagine renowned actress Rita Dominic playing the role of an Akara seller. In fact, her swearing line to the debt-ridden Arinze ‘Arinze, if you no carry my N1,0000 come back, na thunder go fire you’ is now a memorable line thrown at the actor.

Lala Akindoju stepped up her game by playing a double role as the grumpy old landlady and the admirable Beauty- Beverly Naya’s rival- in office.

Beverly Naya who played the female lead as Omosigho had a tough call playing the rich city girl and adjusting her choice of words to deliver the expected sassiness. Her American accent was not helpful at all. It made her acting a bit too stressful. Nevertheless, she was able to convince her audience with her gestures and facial expressions. What’s more, her ability to build a chemistry between her and Ajayi endeared her character to the audience.

AMVCA best actor Tope Tedela who confessed that he had been longing to work with the director found himself playing a very complicated role: a metrosexual.

“I used to think that the director doesn’t like me. I see her at functions and try to strike a conversation but somehow got ignored. So I was quite surprised when I got her call to play this role,” he said.

It wasn’t an easy one for the actor who had played the role of a gangster, cheating husband and others in movies. For this particular flick, he found himself researching and rehearsing to the point he was ridiculed by his folks. At the end of the day, it paid out for him as he made his character Kyle-Stevens Adedoyin likeable irrespective of his condescending mannerisms.

Ojefua is one character that delivers his role with accurate precision. His bulk form, baritone voice fits his abusive role perfectly. As the annoying and horrible boss, Brume, Ojefua align his character with Hollywood stars who have played similar roles like Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey. He made life terrible for Arinze and insensitive to his employees needs. It is difficult to hate him as he has a way of dominating the screen with his robust expletives vocabulary and facial expressions.

The new Nollywood star Eyinna Nwigwe is hilarious in his role as a delusional drug shop owner, Godstime who fancies himself as a pharmacist if not a medical doctor.

“To be honest,” he said, “I didn’t see this coming. It’s quite tricky and exciting. The director called me and the one thing that struck me was that every true talent wants to be pushed beyond what they are used to. Like humans, we are sociable, you conquer one level, you want to move to another. She was surprised that I would take the challenge. I immersed myself into the role because these are experiences I have lived through. I’m interactive. Immediately I saw three characters in my head that I have encountered growing up: my mum’s ex-mechanic, a neighbour in my village and the Hollywood actor Terry Crews. I was comfortable doing what I like from those three angles.”

Perhaps, Okwo’s biggest risk is casting a complete tyro for her lead character. Seun Ajayi’s name before Suru L’ere hardly rings a bell. His first encounter with Okwo was in an audition for another project. Interestingly, Okwo found in him a rare gem that needs polishing. Her experiment with him on this particular flick paid out handsomely well eventually.

Ajayi brought to the screen an irresistible charm that turned on like electric kettle. His expressions mostly silly and comical easily cracks one’s ribs and when it seems his naivety is getting too comfortable, he switches on to his romantic side that evokes mostly a lovingly pity for his adorable character. He is one character that easily matches the images of the viewer; recognisable and appealing in a non-cloying manner. Although he admitted that he had to beg his friends to teach him Ibo language, he however made a lasting impression which blurred his deficiency in the language.

With this singular flick, Okwo scored a major hit as a director whose keen eyes are steadily scouting and grooming new talents in the industry. Albeit, Suru L’ere in all its funny antics delivers a strong message about the virtue ‘Patience’.