Nigerian Writer Slams Kunle Afolayan, Says “The CEO” Is A Copy Cat

I intend seeing Kunle Afolayan’s The CEO this week for Friday’s Movie Review…but here’s a review I stumbled on earlier today.

With the recent premiere of  Kunle Afolayan’s “The CEO”, Adedayo Adejobi explores the movie’s structures and contexts
Good films they say are treasures that
collectively serve as a dictionary for one’s life. For this reason and
more, the human mind is naturally careful about the kind of films it
consumes. Therefore, uncommon films make up the ideal filmmaker’s
 Two years ago, Kunle Afolayan’s “October 1”
movie was embraced and celebrated by critics and fans alike. The
Nigerian viewing audience was overjoyed to see something “new, fresh and
This year, I went through my film
library, brought out and watched again an old film. It was then that it
dawned on me that Kunle Afolayan and his widely celebrated script
writer, Tunde Babalola, are not exactly who they claim to be.
Have you heard of or seen “Perfume: Story of a Murderer”? This is the soul, thrust and impulse behind “October 1.” Without the movie there wouldn’t, most likely, have been any “October 1.”
In fact, some of the directing techniques, use of lighting, and
cinematographic styles of Afolayan’s movie stemmed from “Perfume”, a
2006 movie. It appeared the latter was copied from the former.
For the purpose of driving home the
point, reviewing in brief, – Perfume: Story of a Murderer as Directed by
Tom Tykwer and co- written by Tom Tykwer, Bernd Eichinger, Andrew
Birkin and Caroline Thompson – is a drama, mystery and suspense-filled
and terrifying story of murder and obsession set in 18th-Century France.
Jean-Baptiste Grenouille has a unique
talent for discerning the scents and smells that swirl around him, which
he uses to create the world’s finest perfumes. Strangely lacking any
scent of his own, he becomes obsessed with capturing the irresistible
but elusive aroma of young womanhood. As Grenouille’s obsession turns
deadly, 12 young girls are found murdered. Panic breaks out as people
rush to protect their daughters, while an unrepentant and unrelenting
Grenouille still lacks the final ingredient to complete his quest.
Not only does “Perfume” seem impossible
to film, it must have been almost impossible for Patrick Suskind to
write. How do you describe the ineffable enigma of a scent in words, or
Sean Barrett, who snuffles and sniffles his way to greatness and you
almost believe he is inhaling bliss, or the essence of a stone?
The movie  tells the tale of Grenouille
who grows up as a tanner, voluptuously inhaling the world’s smells, and
eventually talks himself into an apprenticeship with Baldini (Dustin
Hoffman), a master perfumer, now past his prime, whose shop is on an
overcrowded medieval bridge on the Seine. Mention of the bridge evokes
the genius with which director Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) evokes a
medieval world of gross vices, all-pervading stinks and crude appetites.
In this world, perfume is like the passage of an angel some people
think, literally. Grenouille effortlessly invents perfect perfumes, but
his ambition runs deeper; he wants to distill the essence of copper,
stone and beauty itself. In pursuit of this last ideal, he becomes a
gruesome murderer.
“Perfume” begins in the stink of the
gutter and remains dark and brooding. To rob a person of his scent is
cruel enough, but the way it is done in this story is truly macabre.
Still it can be said that Grenouille is driven by the conditions of his
life and the nature of his spirit. Also, of course, that he may indeed
be the devil’s spawn. This is a dark film, focused on an obsession so
complete and lonely it shuts out all other human experience. You may not
savour it, but you will not stop watching it, in horror and
There is nothing fun about the story,
except the way it ventures so fearlessly down one limited, terrifying,
seductive dead end, and finds there a solution both sublime and
horrifying. It took imagination to tell it, courage to film it, thought
to act it, and from the audience it requires a brave curiosity about the
peculiarity of obsession.
One would assume and expect, like the
writer, they would instinctively possess strong appetites for uncommon
films, but it seems the duo have learned, understood and have mastered
the art and business of creatively stealing souls of some of our
treasured films. Film critics, who place value on authenticity and
creativity at its best, articulate that is not all.
Another trailer of Kunle Afolayan’s new film, “The CEO”, which is being premiered in Nigerian cinemas, plays to the writer and other observant minds, like the German film, “Exam” which was released in 2009.
From a business perspective, it may not
be best fitting to assert that Kunle Afolayan copied those two films,
“Perfume…” and “Exam,” words for words, actions for actions, props for
props, and sets for sets.
But, without sounding hard, wicked nor
mean-spirited and no pun intended, Kunle Afolayan no doubt did a
remarkable job of establishing that he took the souls of those movies
and hypocritically dressed them in Nigerian robes.
Reviewing “Exam”, a German film released
in 2009, directed by Stuart Hazeldine and written by Stuart Hazeldine,
Simon Garrity with a rather simple plot, eight talented candidates have
reached the final stage of selection to join the ranks of a mysterious
and powerful corporation.
Entering a windowless room, an
Invigilator gives them eighty minutes to answer one simple question. He
outlines three rules they must obey or be disqualified: don’t talk to
him or the armed guard by the door, don’t spoil their papers and don’t
leave the room. He starts the clock and leaves. The candidates turn over
their question papers, only to find they are completely blank. After
the initial confusion has subsided, one frustrated candidate writes ‘I
believe I deserve…,’ and is promptly ejected for spoiling.
The remaining candidates soon figure out
they are permitted to talk to each other, and they agree to cooperate
in order to figure out the question: then they can compete to answer it.
At first they suspect the question may be hidden in their papers like a
security marker in a credit card, and they figure out ways to change
their environment to expose the hidden words. But light, liquids and
other plans all come to naught. Soon enough, the candidates begin to
uncover each other’s background, prejudices and hidden agendas.
Tensions rise as the clock steadily
descends towards zero, and each candidate must decide how far they are
willing to go to secure the ultimate job.
Exam which has gained a lot of steam is
not an entirely new movie for those who have seen Cube and Fermat’s
Room, but it is one of those few movies that really strike a responsive
chord with the writer. I like watching movies where you are one of the
cast members trying to find the answer. The writer thinks that a lot of
people are like that as well, and if you are one of the people who are
like that, I am very curious to see what you think of Exam. It comes
highly recommended by me.
It’s a situation movie, meaning the
camera stays in one room for the majority of the movie; not only does
this create a need for great writing, it also allows an independent
movie maker to keep the budget low without compromising the quality of
the film.
One hopes the next treasured movie soul
Kunle Afolayan and Tunde Babalola would be copying won’t be “The
Shawshank Redemption,” a 1995 movie that may make one taste salty tears
from one’s eyes.
Lest I forget, “Exam” didn’t make it
into my dictionary. Its intrigues eventually became too pedestrian. So,
what could have excited Kunle and his scriptwriter to also copy the soul
of “Exam” for creating “The CEO”?
Words on the street have it that he is a down low, with different tales behind it. Like his plagiarized October 1,
he was sexually violated by a close relative as a growing up child in
his father’s house. And another says that he picked it up as a survival
racket in the US. Whatever he does in the closet does not really call
for scrutiny but his works could do with a little depth and originality.
 But why would the ilk of Afolayan go to
the  bank to borrow N50 million to fund a story that was largely a
copycat and turned it into his own movie? The inquiry into Afolayan’s
two recently most viewed and acclaimed movies raise questions as to the
dearth of creative talents in Nigeria.
Most crucial is the question – are there
no creative minds, storytellers in Nigeria again? If there are, how
come foreign story lines are copied instead of telling the African or
Nigerian stories? Are they saying the African, Nigerian narrative can
never be authentic and creative?  Must Nigerians be confined to the
whims and caprices of how the western world thinks of the black race? If
not, the ilk of Kunle Afolayan need to rethink their trade.
Kfbers, have you seen the movie?
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