Whose Meal Ticket, a Movie with Diverse Intrigues Comes to Cinemas

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Mary Ekah

Everything about the movie, ‘Whose Meal Ticket’, seems to be maneuvered. Even the core message in the movie, which centres on diabetes, a dreaded disease, and how sufferers can manage it through life with ease, is also maneuvered. Or else how could a movie intended to portray a message on an issue as serious as diabetes be presented in such a sublime manner with so much comedy and drama entrenched in it? And then, every single character in the movie seems to be plotting and scheming for one thing or the other, all for the betterment of their personal lives. Everyone is manipulating the other person and also covering up a secret in a bit to get the next meal ticket or to see ‘Whose Meal Ticket’ is next.

And then there is also this strange but true revelation made in the movie, which brought about a twist in the entire plot of the storyline. We all know that siblings can have different fathers – technically making them half-siblings. What happens when a set of twins is fathered by two different men?  Yes, this occurs in a rare medical condition and they are referred to as “superfecundation twins.”

Superfecundation twins are born when a woman has intercourse with two different men in a short period of time while ovulating; it’s possible for both men to impregnate her separately. In this case, two different sperm impregnate two different eggs. This is exactly what happened to Mrs. Disu in ‘Whose Meal Ticket’ and the result is her superfecundation twins. One of her twins, Taiwo (Iyke Nnabuife) is the product of her relationship with a staff employed to work in the Disu’s family business, while the other twin, Kehinde (Uti Nwachukwu) was conceived during a separate encounter with her husband, Chief Disu within the same period of ovulation. While this phenomenon is rare, research suggests it does happen from time to time.

Consequently, Chief Disu, believing he is the father of both boys, went on grooming the more promising of the boys, Taiwo to take over the helms of his fast growing conglomerate not realising that he is actually grooming another man’s son in the true sense of it. His actual son is Kehinde – the ‘black sheep’ of the family, who never takes anything seriously in life.

Produced by Roxanne Care Options Project, ‘Whose Meal Ticket’ is a follow-up on the success of ‘Deeply Cut, another advocacy movie project that dramatises the impact of hepatitis B in Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa. Although the flick deals with strong messages, it is done with a comic touch and in an entertaining manner.

Premiered penultimate Saturday at Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, The Palms, Lekki, Lagos, the Executive Producer, KehindeOmoru, who is a practicing disabilities nurse at College of Further Education in the United Kingdom and also founder and coordinator of Raxanne Care Options Foundation, revealed what promoted the movie. “I’m a teacher and nurse. Deep down in my heart I just want to tackle different types of health conditions in Nigeria though I practice in the U.K. I see a lot of know-how and ways to do things in the health sector which is lacking here in Nigerian and so I want to do as much as I can to ensure that I bring health promotion to Nigeria.’

Omoru who said Diabetes is a very serious condition, added that she didn’t want to present it in a scary way that would rather put people off.  But that she intended for people who are suffering from it to see how the character in the movie handle it with indifference. “We see Mrs. Disu (Shaffi Bello) in the movie showing her ability to contain the disease without much ado. She handles it simply and with a regular exercise retune. We had to entrench our message on diabetes in a very stylish manner in order not to bore people”, she added.

The movie also portrays the fact that Nigeria is endowed with a whole lot of natural resources which could be used for our benefit when it touches on the merchandise on charcoal for skincare. “Nigeria has plenty of charcoal and there are ways we can harness it for skincare. I use active charcoal on my face and I look around in the shops here and see none. Meanwhile, it is all over the U.K. and Spain. Why are we not incorporating it as an integral part of skincare? So, these are the things I want to ensure that I tackle in Nigeria and Africa,” Omoru noted.

And to allow her viewers absorb these salient messages easily, comedy had to be deployed. “Nigeria is full of stress. You can only bring in such health issues and show it to people in a stylistic manner; there is no how you will watch the movie and not see Shaffy Bello talk about diabetes. You will also see her exercising; that will make people living with diabetes or other health condition to want to do same by getting their jugging kit and exercising as well as so other things she does in the movie.’

The Producer and director of the movie, Grace Edwin-Okon, said, the movie, which is already showing at the moment in the cinemas nationwide, has diverse messages from diabetes, neglect to greed and so on, noted, “It is an entertaining and educative film in the sense that everyone in life is hustling for something. We are all trying to achieve something and I’m very sure that every single person here is after where his/her next meal ticket is coming from.  So everybody hustles in different ways but the fact is that while doing these, some people scheme at the detriment of others.’

Edwin-Okon noted however that the whole idea was to push out health messages without necessarily making it boring to people, so they had to put in the comic element and a bit of drama.  The movie subtly focusing on health issues with more of comedy and drama, she explained was deliberate. “We had to make it sublime because Nigerians love to release stress but don’t like to be lectured, so we had to pass the message in a soft and easy way, so that they can actually think about it in a little way and then go back home and make some more researches on what they have seen in the movie.  At least, there is something to trigger off the thought in their minds.”

Obviously satisfied with the production, the director said, “I have done my best for now, and I’m happy that the audience reacted really well and they loved it. I know that for other productions I will do better by God’s grace.”

For Edwin-Okon, the film, ‘Whose Meal Ticket’ is her 15th film as a producer, and fourth movie as a director.  She described her cast for ‘Whose Meal Ticket’ as amazing. “They are amazing people, they did their best, and we had a good time on set. They are great actors. We had to choose people who kind of fit specific roles, even one of the twins, looks more like the mother than the father, which goes a long way to explain that supposedly father is not actually the biological father.” Her message specifically is that, people should check their health regularly beyond diabetes, just to ensures that you they live long.”

Whose Meal Ticket, is starring industry’s best such as Akin Lewis, Ngozi Nwosu, Uti Nwachukwu, Shaffi Bello, Lisa Omorodion, Tana Adelana, Femi Durojaiye and Iyke Nnabuife among others. Ngozi Nwosu who plays the character, Mrs. Philips in the movie at the premiere jocularly said,, ‘The title is ‘Whose Meal Ticket’ and if you watch carefully, you would see that virtually everyone in the movie is hustling. I’m hustling, my daughter, Lisa Philips, is hustling, the guy dating my daughter, Taiwo (Iyke Nnabuife)  is trying to play my daughter and even Mrs. Disu is also hustling too.’ So at the end of the day, it is who gets the meal ticket?