It’s a Comeback For Wale Adenuga

Wale Adenuga (2nd left) at 'Knockout' premiere

Vanessa Obioha

For more than three decades, Wale Adenuga lit up homes with laughter and entertainment with his intriguing stories and characters. From the days of Ikebe Super magazine when we were first introduced to the comical characters Pa Ajasco and Boy Alinco, to the Super Story series that placed the limelight on Sola Sobowale who played the belligerent ‘Toyin Tomato’ in ‘Oh Father, Oh Daughter’, Adenuga seemed not to rest on his oars.

Even with his son in control of his entertainment company Wale Adenuga Productions, the elderly filmmaker hasn’t lost his Midas touch.

A good pointer is the latest offering from the company, ‘Knockout’. As the name suggests, the movie revolves around a boxing competition that pits two oddballs against each other. To put it more succinctly, the director Patience Oghre calls it the biblical David versus Goliath fight, only that David in this case is a lightweight Hafiz Oyetoro (Saka) and Goliath is the heavyweight Gentle Jack.

Through a series of events that led to the staged competition, Adenuga who penned the script brought to life memorable characters from his past works. There was the usual pot-bellied Pa Ajasco and his eccentric fashion, his mischievous son Ajasco with his lengthy pointed face-cap, the cunny skinny Casanova Boy Alinco and of course the dim-witted Pa James. While they are known for their comedic antics, Adenuga however wanted a bigger picture. He pooled Nollywood heavyweights as well as instagram sensations to give life to his story.

With names like Patience Ozokwor, Chiwetalu Agu, Toyin Abraham, Sola Sobowale, Charles Okocha, Segun Arinze, Steve Onu (Yaw) Woli Arole, MC Lively, Desmond Elliot among others, ‘Knockout’ is so star-studded that one initially fears it will be a killjoy. But under the capable hands of Oghre, each of the characters was usefully deployed such that none was rendered irrelevant.

In a way, ‘Knockout’ is like a reunion of some sort. Actually, Oghre who has worked with some of the actors on the company’s productions puts it that way. Working with them makes it easier for her to interpret their roles.

“Most of these actors have worked on TV productions of Wale Adenuga Productions, so it’s like a comeback for them. I have also worked with some of the actors. We didn’t want it to be a regular Pa Ajasco story, that’s why we have other actors in the mix,” she said.

More than that, Adenuga sees it as a comeback for his production company. Having started with his magazine Ikebe Super before dominating the Nigerian Television scene with comedies such as Pa Ajasco and Company and the Super Story drama series, the cartoonist and filmmaker felt it was time to showcase the brilliance of his mind in a big budget film.

“It’s a comeback for us. We want to show the world that we are not only for TV production, we are back to film. We specialise in comedy and our duty is to make them laugh like they have never laughed before,” said Adenuga.

Distributed by Silverbird Film Distribution, the movie premiere was accompanied with great fanfare. Celebrities and fans stormed the Silverbird Galleria where the premiere took place a fortnight ago in a show of glitz and glamour. The ground floor of the Galleria was delicately transformed to accommodate a music band, a red carpet, a cocktail area where drinks and finger foods were generously served, as well as a 360 camera stand where guests sampled their pugilist skills.

Throughout the duration of the screening, roars of laughter could be heard from the audience, despite the warning at the opening sequence of the film that audience should laugh moderately.

But it is hard to stay still when Ajasco, whether deliberately or not gave Boy Alinco the phone number of an old petty trader in his school instead of that of his beautiful class teacher. The outcome of his seduction plan is something that will be more entertaining in motion pictures than in words. It is even harder not to reel in laughter at MC Lively’s ring side commentary.

Perhaps, you may try to hold your guffaws when Pa James, robbed by a group of area boys ignorantly gave them clues on where he hid his money. If you are lucky enough to keep a straight face for the first ten minutes of the movie, then ‘Knockout’ is definitely not for you.