Tunde Kelani’s next film is something of a departure for him and his star, Funke Akindele. News of their collaboration on ‘Maami’ has sent ripples through the industry, with many pointing out to the filmmaker the fact that he doesn’t work with ‘stars’, he creates them. It has also been suggested that Akindele, the highly successful star of ‘Jenifa’, doesn’t need the leg-up. But the cinematographer and the actress say their collaboration is long overdue. Kelani says, “I’ve known Funke Akindele for a number of years and I’ve followed her progress all along. She has incredible range and as far as I’m concerned, none of those has been used.”
Kelani usually has a player in mind when he conceives stories, and he’s convinced that Akindele is the right person to play the hard-working single parent of Kashimawo, a youngster who grows up to become a player for Arsenal football club in the English premiership. The director feels the same way about Wole Ojo who will play the adult Kashimawo in ‘Maami’, though he and the actor have only met once. Also, Akindele and Ojo have never met, but this is no problem, as the two never actually meet onscreen (the actress will only interact with the fictional Kashimawo in childhood).
Akindele said she has been dreaming of working with Kelani for a long time, and relishes the challenge of ‘Maami’. She said, “I’m in love with the script. It’s different from the characters I’ve played before. I feel so honoured, privileged, to work with Tunde Kelani. I really appreciate the opportunity and I intend to do my best.”
Hopes are high for the “experimental” film. “We are using the highest level of digital media you can think of. It is challenging on many fronts,” Kelani said.