Star actor Antar Babatunde Laniyan, spoke with about his name, birth, the movie industry and rumours in the entertainment industry

Q: Antar Laniyan?
A: Yes, you are surprise my name is Antar Babatunde Laniyan. I try to explain to people in the past that the name was given to me by my parents. They thought it was necessary, otherwise, they wouldn’t do that.

Q: Why were you given the name ‘Antar’?
A: Off course, I asked them and they explained that I over stayed in my mother’s womb. I was there for about 18 months. When she became worried, they had to call out to know what was wrong and they were told to bring ‘Anta’ known in English and Ghana, as an animal that looks like a lizard but not as big as a crocodile. Another name given to it is called Aworiwon known as ‘Anta’.
So, as I was growing up, I decided to add ‘r’ to the name. So, I called it Antar. I was told that, as soon as the animal was taken to where my mother was, I was delivered.

Q: That makes you a mystery child?
A: I don’t see it that way. Thank God I believe miracle still exists.

Q: How do you feel being named after an animal?
A: I feel happy. Moreover, I am into entertainment, the name is also unique because I don’t have anybody battling the name with me. Antar is everywhere, so it is a unique name.

Q: Since you were born, have you set your eyes on the animal?
A: Yes, it was shown to me by a friend, Segun Ojewuyi when some of our Northern friends were taking some animals for exhibition. He said jokingly, Antar, this is your brother (laughter).

Q: Do you feel like having it for keeps?
A: Why not, I feel like having and rearing it. I will love to make it a point of reference.

Q: Have you done a research into the world of that animal to knowthat probably you have a similar behaviour with the animal?
A: I think the animal behaves like a chameleon. I think I have that similar behaviour because I see myself as so many persons in one.

Q: As a shy person, how do you cope with acting?
A: Antar, the actor is different from Antar the producer and Antar the businessman. If you are shy with your business, you won’t make money. I am a different person in all perspectives.
Do you know that I find it difficult to sit a woman down and talk to her? I mean ‘toasting’ as you say. Except we are on location. If you are doing something wrong, I will tell you, if it is right, I give kudos. If I have to play the role of a husband, I do it to the dictate of my director and nothing more. So, what we are doing is strictly business.

Q:If you cannot ‘toast’ a woman, how did you ‘toast’ your wife?
A: That is another story entirely. A friend did that one for me, but my wife insisted that ‘if he is Bola Daniel’s in Checkmate, he should be able to walk up to me’, so I saw that as a challenge then I called her. The rest is history.

Q: Why do you act more in Yoruba films than English films?
A: What does that mean? Well, I go to locations if I am invited. So, I don’t go to where I am not invited. If a producer is producing a Yoruba film and I am invited, I go for it, if it is an English film, I do the same. So, a job is a job no matter what.

Q: Which of the production is challenging?
A: It depends on you as a person. I attack every production as a professional.

Q: What if it pays well?
A: It depends on your bargaining power. A job is a job. Language is just a medium of expression.

Q: There is this claim that English producers discriminate against the Yoruba actors, how far is this true?
A: They have not done it to me but we don’t do it in the Yoruba set up.

Q: Why do we have few Yoruba actors in the English films?
A: Maybe they were not invited.

Q: What are the challenges you have faced in the industry?
A: It’s been rough but we pray things get better because we are all Nigerians.

Q: What are the problems facing the industry?
A: The problem is indiscipline, because those we were looking up to were very disciplined; the likes of the late Hubert Ogunde, Ben Tomoloju and the rest of them. If you turn around now, there are good actors around but what happens to discipline?

Q: Did you plan to be an actor when you were young?
A: No, I dreamt being a military man but when I started watching the likes of Baba Sala, the late Duro Ladipo and a host of others, I got inspired. Also, when I was in the secondary school, the principal of my school advised me to go into acting.

Q: Any regrets?
A: No regrets.

Q: There was a rumour that you sold your father’s landed property to a royal father?
A: It’s a rumour, but let’s look at it from this angle. The rumour has insulted a royal father, what is that landed property that will attract an oba? Are we saying that the oba did not have a property of his own? The person who has come up with that has insulted a royal father. So, it is not true.

Q: Why is there rumour about actors and actresses? There is one about Sola Sobowale, Nkem Owoh and the rest?
A: Well, the answer is that they are peddled by idle people. How will somebody spread rumours that Sola Sobowale has been killed somewhere or Nkem Owoh jailed? So, it is joblessness? People say what they don’t know. Our people are not busy, they are jobless and idle set of people. Sola Sobowale is okay, likewise Nkem Owoh. Thank God for the present crop of journalists, who don’t thrive in gossips.