‘KOB: Return of the king’ is what Nigeria needs at this time in history’

August 26, 2021
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ROTIMI IGE sat with some of the cast of Kemi Adetiba’s ‘King of Boys’ (KOB) whose sequel is due for release exclusively on Netflix today. In this interview, Efa, IllBliss and Deyemi Okanlawon share their experiences on set and how the movie shows a direct reflection of our current society.

This sequel is amazing, I have watched like three episodes of it and I can see that it is a far cry from the first one. It presented unique characters and challenges, especially with the introduction of new characters like Efa and Deyemi. How was it like getting into the mix, knowing that you had a very high expectation to fulfil?

Efa: It was heart-warming. I felt grateful to be on such a huge platform especially because you see something, study it from afar and just marvel because it is a good thing. A couple of years later, after seeing KOB one, to now be a part of this family and work with all these amazing talents including Kemi herself is amazing and one of those on my bucket list that I just ticked off. So, I felt grateful.

I have seen many of your movies and I know you to be usually casted as a husband, lover boy etc. In KOB, you had to switch to become a goofy campaign manager to someone like Aunty Sola Sobowale who was at her very best on this sequel. How was it getting into that character knowing that you are working with somebody who would absolutely embody her expectations on set?

Deyemi: It was because she absolutely embodied her work that I could do mine well, and she gave me permission to. Iron sharpeneth iron and working with Kemi, we built the character from scratch. We sat down and decided what the character would look like. I made some suggestions and she loved it, we went into the mind of the character to decipher what he was feeling and that’s how it is with Kemi.

And then my own homework was now to make sure that I was so detached from Deyemi, because that character is so different from who I am. There is no way that the character would succeed if you saw any part of me in it.

So, I made sure that behind the scenes, I was always irritating Aunty Sola because we were all under a lot of pressure. She would always snap at me because I was always disturbing her.  I took that same energy into work so whenever we heard ‘Action!’, I became frazzled, unsure and uncertain as was required of me.

Usually, in real life, I control things around me. And now, for the first time, I had to calm down, but it worked; being uncomfortable on that set worked for me. It was a huge challenge, but I am proud of the positive reviews I have been getting.

Odogwu Malay, because you are a rapper, it is easy to associate you with your role on KOB. Critics will feel it is easy for you to transit into character; wear the gold blings and all that. But I know that it took a lot of brain power and mental will to be able interpret it, especially to be able to switch from being a father to a gangster and to fulfilling your roles of having to send your boys to carry out assignments. How was it for you? Was it easy as people  think?

Ill Bliss: There are elements of Odogwu Malay like you said that one can find in IllBliss, the rapper. Rap is a glamorous culture, so when they showed me the fashion chart for Odogwu Money, I laughed for one straight hour. That’s the urban Igbo guy, doing things loud, because we are known as hustlers.

So, when they showed me the character, all I needed to do was get into the mind of Odogwu Malay and become him authentically because he is of an Eastern descent. It worked for me and I am so happy at how I eased into acting.

Playing Malay was tasking for the sequel because I had to stretch into parts of me, looking for emotions inside me and I am usually not very emotional as a human being. There was this one scene where Kemi needed me to show emotions and she was on one side of the door like a psychologist and I, the patient. She was like “Illy, you need to look within. Let’s talk about losses, death” but I couldn’t find anything.

Then she said, “what if this evil had been done to your family? Remember your girls. She is four, right?” The door just opened and I went into beast mode.

You played the role of a journalist and from what I watched, the movie is a direct message to Nigeria and Nigerians. So, how do you see the role of the media in ensuring that Nigeria remains united, especially in unravelling the intricacies of politics?

Efa: I feel like my character, Dapo Banjo did a good job. I think that his journalism skills were impeccable, but his personal life suffered. And as a creative, a lot of times, your personal life suffers in order to be able to do a lot of things not just as a creative, but as a professional as well.

As a journalist, you are out there chasing the next big story and it means that much to you, but at the same time it makes you question what is most important to you. I feel like that is the real question you must ask yourself.

As a professional you have your job, which you do well, but in your personal life, how do you balance things up?

With Netflix’s entrance into Nollywood and this partnership with for ‘King of Boys’ sequel, what impact do you see the collaboration creating in the industry, standard wise in Nollywood?

Deyemi: KOB part one, upended the entire ideology of Nigerian cinema. There was a conversation going on back in the day that only comedy movies were in the cinema, then KOB came and just upended that whole thing and made a mockery of the idea.  The people who were touting that couldn’t say it anymore.

After KOB, people were a bit more adventurous in making their film stories, but then this was still Nigerian cinema.

The partnership between KOB and Netflix now shows that the limit has been taken off, it is no longer local championship because we are now global and we are now playing at a global level. So, when you say you saw KOB and was amazed by the things you saw in it, it is because we are not playing at the local league again, we have passed it.

I am happy to be at the forefront of what is going on with Nigerian film making. I believe that this is the generation that amazing movies are going to come from in the next few years. There is a lot that is still coming, but this generation is the one where if there was an Olympics of filmmaking, we would be the ones to go and represent Nigeria on world stage.

Your friend Reminisce was also on this project. The synergy has always been there in music because you and he have worked together on songs. Now, working together in film is a huge move forward, how was it working with him in each scene?

Ill Bliss: Reminisce and I have some things in common. We call ourselves ‘Obama dads’ because we have only girls. We are very family oriented and focused on the children, so we compare notes as fathers and rappers as well because we are also inspired by all the greats from Jay-Z to Biggie.

We have the same influences, so our mindsets are the same. We also focus on balance you know; give fans the ‘Lamba’ and then give them serious satirical music so to speak.

Many time while we waited for our scenes, we talked about random things like the industry, surviving in the game etc. He is such a close friend of mine.

What unique message at this critical time in our nation’s history, do you think ‘King of Boys: The return of the king’ is passing to the electorate especially as 2023 approaches?

Efa: When I look at KOB as a franchise, for me it is more than entertainment. The message that I think should be passed on to the people and the electorate weirdly has nothing to do with the movie but with the person/the people behind it. Kemi and I were speaking recently and I was telling her how she inspires me. Deyemi has also said she inspires a lot of people. So, if she can do this, so can you.

And when it comes to the electorate and 2023, we come in. Where people are not happy, you know what? Why don’t we take a stand and try something new? Don’t just give up. For me, KOB as a project, represents that anything is possible. So, in the case of 2023 elections, I feel like anything is possible, don’t just sit down and give up. Make your voice heard, take a stand and let us try to get a new nation.

Deyemi: I think Kemi Adetiba’s KOB is an ode to the power of Nigerian youths; we can break boundaries. It is not by chance that Netflix tapped onto the youngest of all the producers they have worked with on this side of the world. She is a young person doing amazing things on a global level. Any young person in Nigeria also has that opportunity to excel and succeed in that vein. You can imagine all of us coming together.

I have always said that Nollywood is a microcosm of the nation. The issues in Nollywood you can see clearly in the politics of this country. As we fix things in Nollywood, we encourage and inspire other people to start fixing things in their own industries and that would extend to the entire country.  We are doing it in technology as the young people, we are doing it now in film, music. I don’t know how long it is going to take, but it will happen. It must happen.

Ill Bliss: King of Boys is a satire so to speak. The possibilities are endless for the Nigerian youth. We are at that point where we can change everything or lose everything. Kemi coming in as a film maker and choosing this direction is bold, revolutionary and thought provoking.

In the words of the great Nina Simone, “your act must reflect the times” and that is exactly what Kemi Adetiba is doing every time she sat down and put all of that political scenery, tension and others into this movie, it just spoke to leadership that the change is coming and it is very close.

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