Exclusive: Tunde Kelani Speaks on ‘AYINLA’ after the Movie Wins an Award in USA

Tunde Kelani popularly called TK, a Nigerian filmmaker and movie producer, who has many awards to his credit, could not hold back his joy when his movie titled ‘AYINLA’, won the Best African Narrative Feature Award at the 2022 Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles, USA.


TK, who took to his Instagram page shortly after the award was received on his behalf, shared the good news, and congratulated everyone who in a way or the other, contributed to the overall success of the movie.


In a chat with SarahReports on Thursday, Tunde Kelani spoke extensively on what inspired him to write the story. He said, “the message I want to encourage Nigerians to take away from the story is never to forget their culture because the thing is that, you take something that is yours as the authentic story. You have to look in this case from your own backyard and tell your story and share your experience with the whole world. That’s the lesson.”


The 74 years old movie legend, known for his contributions to the Nigerian movie industry since his emergence into film making over 40 years ago and still counting, rated movies produced by Nigerians producers as brands that have been recognized globally.


“The film produced in Nigeria is measured by box office returns. Overtime, the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, has given Nigeria a brand that is recognized all over the world. Not only that, even government has recognized the importance of the industry as contributing to economic development of Nigeria. That’s a big success!”


Speaking on the story ‘AYINLA’, Kelani said, “the theme is taking the story of a local musician, who revolutionized ‘Apala’ music decades ago in Abeokuta.”


He added, “So, because I grew up in Abeokuta, we’re now telling the story of Abeokuta which has gone out of Nigeria. We have to tell our story because we have something that is unique, something that is our own will be taken from local to global.”


About the movie cast, TK emphasized, “Those are the characters that fit into the story. The story determined who will be in the film and everybody performed very, very well; and that is why the film is popular and can win such an award in the US.”


Because the movie ‘AYINLA’ tells the story of the Nigerian musician, Ayinla Omowura, who used Apala music to address issues of the then contemporary society, by commending and/or criticizing various governmental and individual acts, Tunde Kelani is also of the opinion that, comparing today Nigeria and the then Nigeria is just a case of “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”


He opined that, “today, we have modernity, technology, but unfortunately, no much progress that we can point to.”


With emphasis, the septuagenarian said, although in a way we (Nigeria) have progressed because we have joined the rest of the world in modernization and technological advancement, but never in comparison with our today educational standards.


“In a way we have progressed, we have joined the rest of the world; but look at our institutions, a lot of universities but very little people. Education has not actually improved; and if care is not taken, it (educational institutions) might collapse. They are turning out graduates but people are less skilled.”


The Abeokuta born Tunde Kelani, believe that, all age groups embraced ‘AYINLA’ in particular, people between ages 18 -45 because this age group constituted the majority of people who have gone to see the movie.


“All age group embraced ‘AYINLA’ because at the box office, the ages of people who goes to the cinema to watch the movie and embrace it is between 18-45 years. That means that a lot of of young people who went to see the film has never heard of Ayinla Omowura. You know the music is special. After all, if the man had died 40 years ago, the music is still relevant today. That is the story.”

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