Baba Wande (Haji Karimu Adepoju), my keen observation in Yoruba Nollywood is an actor a producer only needs to text the address of a movie shoot to. Don’t call! Don’t bother with that inanity. And he’s too damn good to need a script. Just find a way for him to get to the set. He’s that self-assured in his skillset!
He embodies drama with his words just as he does with his usually, slight body interpretations. Whenever he smiles, the audience must follow suit. And when he deliver his flimsy, funny yet thought provoking lines, they must break out in laughter. He seldom wastes his emotion on the unnecessary and he hardly ever hogs his scenes.
He is one Yoruba actor who consistently moves from one role to the other without leaving his assigned characters entirely lifeless. His characters are immortals! They are unforgettable! They stay on perpetually, like worn clothings on the hangers of our consciousness. We are able to revisit, dust them off and still reminisce with them from time to time.
I remember he was for long Kúyẹ̀ in the days of WNTV Ibadan. Kúyẹ̀, as the mute lead boy in the TV adaptation of Baba Adebayo Faleti’s eponymous, classic novel. Before then, he simply went by Lasebikan in the mid-week series “Kóòtù Ashipa.” Then he starred in another made for TV-movie titled “Èkùrọ́ Ọlọ́ja” as Ayelaagbe or Laagbe for short. He played a usurping villain in it. Then “Ile Tí A Fi Itọ́ Mọ.” In it he was Mr. Ọtọkiti, Baba Wande – an upward moving executive. He was that again for a while till the Nollywood boom of the nineties, when he became even more popular in “Ti Oluwa Ni Ile” as Oloye Ọtun. Without sounding like a broken record, a dramatist must strive harder at being both a character and a method actor. Baba Sala and mostly Nigerian comedians are examples of method actors. They live on the tube as one-dimensional characters all through their careers. Hard to ever imagine them in more challenging roles. It’s like conditioning a pig to a sedentary lifestyle. Haji Kareem Adepoju, is an essential actor with the versatility to bring any role to life without much ado. He plays a perfect hero just as much as does a tantalizing villian. One actor that makes villainy pretty much interesting, if only to prove a point that heroism- sometimes can be flat out boring!
The late Oyin Adejobi, his old boss (his physical challenge asides), must have seen something qualitative in the man- early enough to have made him yield his deserving stardom to him. After all, he owned the marquee, the name recognition, and the damn Theatre group. Looking back at it now, that was magnanimous of the man!
Finally as for me and my household and as long as I see Haji Kareem Adepoju in the opening credits, I am definitely watching! And as long as I see Babatunde Omidina or Baba Suwe in the opening credits, whoever wanna watch may go ahead, but as for me and my spirit, I am taking my uninterested ass and spirit (even if I have to drag the stubborn fellow) – straight to bed!