Alhaji Kareem Adepoju popularly called Baba Wande is a veteran actor whose wealth of experience spans over four decades. In this interview with TOPE OLUKOLE, he spoke about his career and other issues. Excerpts:
How did you get into acting?
All gifts come from God and mine is not an excep- tion. I cannot explain how I found myself in this but all I know is that I am in it and I am enjoying it.
You seem more of a comedian than any other thing. Do you think the trait of a comedian was in you as a child?
People say I am a comedian but I don’t know why they say that, I am not Baba Suwe or Latin; I only speak naturally, and people believe that it is comical or humorous.
So, you don’t go out of your way to talk the way you do?
Which of the movies that you have done do you find particularly challenging?
I am yet to find one that actually challenged me. Most of them I did with ease. Whenever I am on stage, I just flow naturally.
How do you combine your role as an actor and a family man?
There is no problem with that at all. Whenever I have jobs to do, I do it and if it requires travelling, I’ll do it and when I am done with the job, I return home to my family. They know the type of job I am doing and they understand it. So, I do not have any problem with my family because they know the challenges of the job I am into.
Which of the artistes would you say you enjoy working with?
I enjoy working with anybody that comes my way as long as the person is good professionally. When I talk, that person should be able to answer me well. If he does, I would give the person the right response. That is the type of person I like to work with.
Do you think you would have made a better actor if you had been more educated than you are now?
If I was more educated than this, I probably would not have ended up being an actor. I might have been a television director or manager. On the other hand, I thank God and I am happy because with acting, I am able to project my talent. But sincerely, if I had been more educated, I would have ended up in an office as a television manager or director.
Do you have any memorable experience that you would like to share?
The experience is not just about myself alone but it concerns everyone of us in the industry today and that is about the situation of things in the Yoruba movie industry. We go through all sorts of things at locations to shoot movies but at the end of it, the money one realises is nothing to write home about.
What do you think is responsible for this situation?
Piracy is part of it and another thing is the behaviour of the marketers towards the artistes. On a very candid note, they don’t treat us well at all.
Looking back over the years, do you have any regret being an actor?
Not exactly. My only regret is the way we are being treated by the marketers. We do a lot to prepare a story, we look for money to shoot the film and go through all sorts of sufferings at the various locations to shoot a movie and at the end of it all, getting to the market, you will not be paid. That is my only regret. Every now and then I just sit back to think on what can be done because we just toil and we don’t reap the fruits of our labour. It is sad.
What do you think of the type of movies being churned out from the stables of the movie-makers? Are they meeting up to standards?
Most of our movies are not up to standard and it is due to the financial problems we face. Instead of the marketers to bring out good money for the artistes to shoot movies, they will bring about N250,000 to shoot a movie. I wonder how they think a good movie could be shot with such an amount. This is actually common in the Yoruba movie industry, the Igbos are not like that. The Igbo marketers give good money to shoot movies but the Yorubas don’t, they give a paltry N250,000 or N300,000 to shoot movies. That is the reason for that.
So, you think Igbo movies are better than Yoruba movies?
They are better in the sense of the amount their marketers give out to make movies but they do not have good story lines like Yoruba movies. The Yoruba movies have very good stories but there are no people to finance them well. That is our problem. We have stories, we have talented artistes but there is no money to actualise our dreams.If you have your way, what would you do about the situation on ground?If I’m financially okay, I would have brought out money to do a very good film and have a way of selling it. But if you do not have money, there is nothing you can do. You can’t be a marketer.
You have been acting for years and you have fans across the globe, how do you feel when your fans see you, may be on the road and they come after you?
I am happy anytime I see them. The only thing that worries me is the orientation they have about artistes. Most of the time, they always think that we are rich and that we have money which is actually not the case. Most of the times, once the area boys sight you, they will rush to you that they want to share from your wealth. They always have it in their minds that the way we act in movies is the way things are in real life, but it is not so at all. That is the only regret I have on that.
What good thing would you say being an actor has done to you?
I have benefitted a lot by being an actor. Firstly, it gave me exposure; it has enabled me to meet with different people from different walks of life that I may not have met ordinarily. It had also opened many doors for me and given me goodwill, even in public places like banks, offices and what have you. It has really given me so much.
How would you compare cinema and home video?
Both of them have their various advantages. We are not able to make cinema anymore because of the economic crisis and we could not have sat down with our arms folded. That was why the home video thing came into existence.
Which one is better? Is it the cinema or the home video?
I would not say that the cinema is better because it is much more expensive but the only thing is that when you shoot on cinema, there is no way you can produce a substandard film, but with home video, you have every Tom, Dick and Harry going into it and coming up with all manners of films that are substandard,
I think that half a loaf is better than none. If we cannot afford to shoot on cinema, then we can still make do with the one we have which is the home video.What advice do you have for upcoming artistes?The only advice I have for them is that they should take one-step before the another. Before you become a teacher, you must first be a student.
Some of the younger ones do not want to take their time to learn well before standing on their own. They think that Rome was built in a day, but life is not like that, I spent twenty-five years with my master,
Oyin Adejobi of blessed memory before I became a master on my own. Some of them want to be s star overnight without taking their time to learn the nitty-gritty of the profession and I don’t think it is possible to become a star without first learning the profession well.What other thing do you do? Do you drink or womanize?I don’t drink. But on the issue of women,
I cannot lie about it. Anyman, especially one that is in this kind of profession, will have friends and admirers.How many wives do you have at home?I have two.Are you planning to have more?I may and I may not. I am a Muslim and by right, I am supposed to have four wives, if I have more than four that means I have derailed from the word of God but if it is four, I am still on course.