At 21:52 pm CAT, when IK Osakioduwa and Vimbai, hosts of the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards, had signed off from the show and brought in P-Square, I was left scratching my head a bit as I walked out slowly out of the hall with some of the invited guests.
I was puzzled. There was something about this year’s AMVCA which lacked the punch the last two editions had. I couldn’t place my finger on it and it kept nagging me all night as I played the event over and over in my mind. You see, I have attended lots of high-profile events and the AMVCA is one I always look forward to attending, not just as a filmmaker but also as a reviewer and this year’s was no exception. And the chaps at MNET have told me a number of times that my annual reviews are read sometimes in post-event meetings and no matter how scathing the reviews might be in some areas, they good-naturedly take the corrections and plan to plug loopholes for the next edition. And so, I decided to understand more of the behind-the-scenes planning of the AMVCA this year. A day before the event, I silently sneaked into the hall at Eko Hotels and Suites, where I watched the professional crew rehearse both the presenters and the host and hostess, painstakingly. No one really noticed me in the hall and the attention to detail during the rehearsals was impressive. I only spent thirty minutes in the hall but I appreciated the efforts put in by the crew.
And so, the evening of the show came upon us all. And walking on the red carpet to the main hall, one had to appreciate the fashion sense on display. I can bet that the fashion and make-up industry must have made a few millions in Nigeria yesterday because of the AMVCA. Everyone looked quite glam in their own estimation! Everyone? So, it seemed to me, even though I can safely say that the fashion on display was a combination of the outstanding, the outlandish and the outrageous! Fashion wise, I think the irrepressible Denrele Edun flew over the cuckoo’s nest. I noticed earlier a masked lady walking the red carpet and thought to myself that someone was perhaps doing an artistic Peter Cech of Chelsea on the red carpet. Imagine my surprise when the ‘lady’ walked up to me and called my name in Denrele’s voice! It was Denrele, dressed as a lady, with butt pads and all!
‘Uncle Charles, that’s the idea!’ He laughed as I took a picture with him, telling him in the process that he was crazy! Did I say he was doing a Cech? Change that to Bruce Jenner, maybe! I can safely say though, that Seyi Shay could take appropriate dress lessons from Denrele though, when next she’s performing for the President or top dignitaries!
But I digress.
The show started at 6.30pm CAT with an opening performance by an African dance troupe. An interesting monologue by Osas Ighodaro, dressed somewhat like an African queen, asked the niggling African question ‘What if I am African?’. I don’t know how the Shakira-styled hip shaking which Osas and a couple of female dancers did while that question was being asked, had to do with being African but I kinda thought those hips onstage lied a bit during the wriggle. The opening performance was average, in my opinion. It seemed more like the kind of performance for a boring gala night for African Heads of states than for a top profile event like AMVCA.
That flat opening skit set the tone for the drone first half of the show. The show dragged a bit and looking at some faces seated in the hall, behind the heavily caked make-up of some people in the hall, one saw a bit of irritation during the first thirty minutes of the show.
IK and Vimbai tried to spike up the show those first few minutes. However, I had the feeling that Vimbai’s sing-song voice wasn’t helping the nerves in the hall. IK and Vimbai tried a couple of banter which the audience received with polite laughter. IK cracked a joke about make-up and how a white lady he shagged turned out to be Mercy Johnson the next morning! Now, that was…well..politically inappropriate…for lack of a better phrase. That joke was overboard and IK got away with it, perhaps. Anyway, I think IK and Vimbai found their presenting mojo later in the show though.
Nonso Diobi and Linda Ejiofor came onstage to present the first award of the night. Nonso seemed to like the sound of his voice as he went on a bit about how it was a tough category and how every nominee bla bla bla. Next time, keep it straight and simple, please!
Next duo of Presenters were Akin Lewis and Oge Okoye. Oge Okoye got quite some appreciative applause from the audience for her outfit. By the way, I think her character in ‘Hotel Majestic’ is one of my favourite characters in the serial and she interprets that role quite well.
During the commercial breaks in the hall, the audience was a bit restless. Last year, there was a Disc Jockey who spinned some vibes which kept the audience all hyped up by the time the cameras returned to the live event. I wonder why that was not the case this year? Africa needs to see excited faces all thrilled and happy at the end of such breaks. Little details such as those help the overall tempo of the event. And what was wrong with the cooling system in the hall? The temperature was quite humid in most areas inside the hall and not a few people were fanning themselves.
Tunde Babalola won two awards in the Writing categories and gave kudos to both Kunle Afolayan and Mildred Okwo, the Producers of the films which won him both awards in separate categories.
Tomi Odunsi of ‘Tinsel’ and the dreadlocked actor in ‘Hotel Majestic’ presented the ‘Best Editor’ award to Victoria Akujobi, a young lady. She kept giggling shyly in her acceptance speech like a village virgin and her gush got the audience laughing too. It was heartwarming though to see that a woman won in that category, which is usually male dominated.
One of the disappointments of the event was the performance by the Mavins. It was below par. I do not know how it looked to those who watched it live on television but to us in the hall, it didn’t do jack. They performed their hit song ‘Dorobucci’ and I must say that maybe the audience was ‘Doro-weary’ because the performance lacked excitement. The artistes kept singing over each other’s lines in an ‘I-too-know’ kind of way. Dija sang (or rather mimed) for Tiwa Savage who was absent probably for obvious reasons-pregnancy or another engagement? The performance was sluggish and received just some polite applause. I wonder why they didn’t move the audience much. I can only believe that it must be because their appearance in the awards was massively overhyped and people really didn’t have anything to look forward to. It was a bit too much of MTN to have hyped their performance so much before the awards that when they came up and we all expected a bomb (oops..no apologies to Boko Haram!) all we got was a firecracker!
Funlola Aifoyebi and Ali Nuhu had quite a good banter on stage as they presented the ‘Best Indigenous Language-Hausa’ awards. And when Faithia Balogun won in the Yoruba category, she identified with her roots by revealing that she’s just an Urhobo Babe who speaks Yoruba fluently, even though she had a couple of her Yoruba ‘supporters club’ members with her onstage. Obi Emelonye, who won in the Igbo category, commendably spiked the audience with his Igbo acceptance speech, after Mike Ezuronye had gingered the category with his ‘Igbo Kwenu’ greetings.
Comedians, Eddie Kadi and Basketmouth gave good account of themselves in their stand-up segments.
Tuface Idibia also performed. I felt it was an average performance. Maybe it had to do with the din from his live band or his raunchy-looking dancers onstage, which seemed unlike Tuface. I’m wondering if he’s trying hard at this period in his career to show us he too can do the lewd background dancers stuff too? I think he’s too much of a superstar to fall for that.
Ivie Okujaye, another actress who has impressed me in her outing on ‘Hotel Majestic’, presented The Trailblazer Award which was won by CJ Obasi. Obasi climbed up the stage and seemed to snatch the microphone from Ivie!
The late Amaka Igwe got a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented by Richard Mofe-Damijo, whose voice broke in pain when he called up Charles Igwe to receive the award on her behalf. The whole hall gave a standing ovation in her honour. Rest in peace, Amaka. It was heartwarming to note that she was remembered and honoured. Before that category, the names of the departed artistes in the past year scrolled across the screen, most poignantly was Muna Obiekwe’s.
OC Ukeje won the ‘Best Actor in a drama’ category, making it the second time he would be winning an AMVCA. He was gracious enough to recognise Peace Anyiam-Osigwe of AMAA who gave him his big break, according to him. His award was presented to him by Genevieve Nnaji , who really looked good in her evening gown. Genevieve though, made a slip when she extolled Amstel Malta. She announced that the winner in that category gets a million Naira and six months of Amstel Malta, a brand which she endorses as a brand ambassador. She ended her speech by cheekily saying ‘Get fat!’. Huh? I thought Amstel Malta projects itself as a low sugar, healthy, low fat beverage? Why would a brand ambassador quip on international television that it has fat, even if it was light-hearted? If I talk now, una go say….anyway. Lef matter.
Kunle Afolayan won the ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Movie’ categories and I think it was well deserved. ‘October 1′ is quite a formidable movie. Congrats, Kunle.
The show ended with a performance by P Square, which was more for the watching viewers as most of the guests trooped out of the hall.
Having observed a bit of the rehearsals a day before, I must commend the organisers for planning an event which had less mistakes this year. Everyone seemed guarded and one could not really point to any bloopers during the awards. However, in my honest opinion, I think the event lacked the full punch.
Perhaps the show had been overhyped and one expected more? Or what? Let me put it this way; the show scores full marks for glamour. I am yet to see a more glamorous entertainment event like the AMVCA. But the excitement for the show itself was damp. My thoughts? Next year, give us a surprise guest appearance or something. I can bet that current raves like Kiss Daniels could have spiked that crowd. Give us better entertainment value. A movie award show should leave the audience and viewers gasping. This year, people are going to talk more about who wore what ( or is it who wore who as those sneer-inducing Naija red carpet presenters would ask!)than who won which. Perhaps a Bovi could join next year as host or even Eddie Kadi or Basketmouth? Perhaps something not expected could be added to the show? It’s Africa Magic, come on! Where did the magic go?
And something has to be upgraded about the writers who scripted the show? I didn’t feel the jokes, if any. The Presenters mostly improvised unlike last year which had a good script prompt. This year was quite bland.
The 2015 AMVCA had the best of glamour and much guts. I just didn’t see the glitter in the event.
Byline: Charles Novia is a respected filmmaker and critic based in Nigeria. For more about him, visit www.charlesnoviadaily.com.