For a very long time, I have tried to understand why our Ghanaian movie directors and producers did not pick books by renowned writers like John Grisham, Jeffery Archer, Sidney Sheldon and make movies out of them.

Well, apparently, I have been wrong all this while, as they seem to be ‘stealing’ stories of these accomplished writers without giving them any credit.

Their excuse that they want to direct and produce movies with an African story does not hold because they do not even pick the works of African writers like Ngugu Wa Thiong’o, Chinua Achebe, Atukwei Okai and several other big names in Africa literature. I am not a big fan of movies made in Ghana or Nigeria at large, having been disappointed on several occasion by some of these local movies. I cursed my stars for wasting my precious time to watch a movie like ‘Sexy Angel’, Hot Fork’ etc and since then, I vowed never to watch any local movie.

But I hear about a new movie, ‘Turn Me On’ which I thought would be interesting. And after watching it, I doffed my hat for Priscilla Agyeman ‘writer’ Of the Movie ‘turn Me On (for God’s sake, where from this title, who is turning who on who?) I told a colleague about the movie, feeling excited that at least, for the first time, a Ghanaian scriptwriter had done a marvelous job. The movie is about a successful man who was murdered, leaving behind three legitimate daughters and property worth about four million Ghana cedis. In fact, I was going on and on until my friend started telling me the storyline. I paused a little, wondering how he knows the plot well since he has never watched local movies. My friend then told me the movie’s plot was ‘stolen’ from a novel originally written by Sidney Sheldon called ‘Morning, Noon and Night in 1995. The supposed scriptwriter of ‘Turn Me On’ dubbed the entire plot of Morning, Noon and Night and even maintained the first names of the characters in the movie!!!

OMG! How can this be? One picks someone’s novel, makes a movie out of it and keeps all the credit to him or herself. For Christ sake, the Harry Potter series were based on a novel written by J. K. Rowling and was duly acknowledged. Behaviours such as these can only be found in poverty-stricken countries like Ghana where the legitimate owners cannot sue these plagiarists.

After all, there is nothing here that will make someone come all the way from Europe, Asia and the Americas to sue them. By the way, do you know that one of the latest moves in town, ‘Blackmail’ is a copied version of a 2004 award winning India movie tiled ‘Aitraaz? It has been copied from A to Z, yet no recognition was given to the original writer. I can mention thousands of such movies whose storylines and plots have been copied by these local writers without acknowledging the original authorities. I do not want to conclude that there are no creative scriptwriters here in Ghana. I believe that these so-called movie directors and producers always want the easy way out. They do not want to invest.

A friend told me about a renowned movie director cum producer who turned him down when he presented him with a script. He did not even read the content, let alone hear the price it was going for. Rather this producer preferred to plagiarise Indian movies and repackage it into English and Twi then present them to the Ghanaian consumer. Please let us be serious in this nascent industry of ours if we really want to grow and become like Hollywood and Bollywood.

Let us be creative and write our own stories. And if we can’t, let us give credit where it is due, use good scripts, good directors, splendid cast and improvise so that we can have movies worth buying and watching. The critical eye is still watching and will ‘hammer’ where necessary.