Ayinla Omowura lives on in this thrilling 2021 movie directed by Tunde Kelani.
TK, as he is popularly called, is an accomplished Nigerian filmmaker, producer, photographer and storyteller with experience of over 40 years. Ayinla, the apala music legend, was captivatingly portrayed by the actor Lateef Adedimeji.
The Ayinla movie tells a real-life, tragic tale of a talented musician whose life was cut short at the peak of his career. The story is set in Abeokuta, dramatizing events that occurred between the 1970s and early 1980s. It portrays the rich culture and traditions of the Yoruba people.
The aerial scenery of Abeokuta, kicks off the movie, with the introduction of the main cast Ayinla (Adedimeji Lateef) entertaining guests at a party with his music. There is an orchestrated disturbance at the show but it’s all just a ruse to get him to leave and attend another party. We are then introduced to Ayinla’s manager, Bayowa, (played by Debo Adebayo, popularly known as Mr. Macaroni ), who handles gig schedules for the band.
News of Ayinla’s music travels far and he gets an offer to perform in London from a show promoter, Ajala (played by Kunle Afolayan). The show promoter had a scheduled meeting with Bayowa to discuss the next phase of Ayinla’s career. He convinces him of a music tour that would be beneficial to all of them, and they both head to a bar to convince Ayinla. Despite Ayinla’s initial doubts about apala music finding an appreciative audience in London, preparations for the band’s travel commence.
In the midst of it all, a determined journalist, Jaiye (Ade Laoye), whose boss is breathing down her neck, due to her lack of timeliness and unprofessionalism, tries every method possible to get an interview with Ayinla to keep her job. Her boss is interested in getting an exclusive interview to know more about Ayinla, his music, what drives him, his roots, and his craft. However, Ayinla is uninterested in speaking with the media.
At this point in the movie, the audience already sees signs of the smooth sailing of Ayinla’s career. But things take a different turn when Bayowa introduces a beautiful young woman, Deborah (Omawunmi Dada) as his cousin. Ayinla takes an interest in her despite Bayowa’s attempts to discourage him. Deborah uses the ensuing love affair to her advantage by making a request: to accompany Ayinla on his trip to London. However, Bayowa disagrees with this, because he is also romantically entangled with Deborah. This leads to an argument between Ayinla and his band manager, which forces the latter to quit.
Later on, the two men decide to reconcile and eventually run into each other at a beer parlor. However, their fateful meeting does not go as planned. Tempers flare up, a fight breaks out and the result leaves behind an indelible mark in history.
Ayinla is a movie that is both entertaining and instructive because the protagonist falls victim to his promiscuity and hot temper. Being human, Ayinla has flaws. One of these is his love for women, which is noticeable in his three wives and several concubines.
We also get a glimpse of the music industry, although on a local level. As usual, there is rivalry, scandal, fame, and fortune. The movie promotes Yoruba culture and reflects the impact that Ayinla’s music has had on society.
Adedimeji executed his role skillfully, absorbing the character till he becomes one with the Ayinla projection, on screen. Afolayan’s Ajala is smooth and charismatic; he is often seen nicely dressed and always smoking. He is a business-minded person who understands the importance of his job. Mr. Macaroni was magnificent in his role although, he is known for comedy skits, we don’t see this side of him. Omawumi Dada played the role of Deborah, a beautiful temptress, exceptionally well.
It is a good movie, no doubt but some aspects of the movie could have been improved on. Tunde Kelani could have been more creative with the scenes of Ayinla’s performance. Most of the scenes were focused solely on Ayinla and the members of his band playing. It would have been nice to see different variations of the shows where the audience and their reactions were often included in the scenes. It would’ve made viewers connect more and feel like they were also present during these performances.
The visuals were captivating to watch and were set in the beautiful landscapes of Abeokuta, showing how the housing structures were, the trees, rocks as gotten from the name. The costumes were in line with the Yoruba way of dressing, including adire, aso-oke, iro, and buba, etc. Not leaving out the paronamic views of Abeokuta which also adds to the ambiance. The movie makes you fall deeper in love with the Yoruba culture and sparks interest in it for those who happen to be unfamiliar with the culture. You would notice that the Yoruba people have a centralized system of government, where power is vested in the Kabiyesi; forms of dispute were easily resolved, as the elders of the land are given much respect. The form in which the food is prepared, the dance patterns, the instruments used to give off sound, sounds that were pure and not filtered. It is amazing to know that even in that time, without modern exposure, such great feets were attained.
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to.