Sunday Omobolanle, popularly known as Papi Luwe, considering his long sojourn in the Nigerian entertainment world, has made an ineradicable impact in the sector. He is a comic actor, filmmaker, producer, director as well as a scriptwriter. Papi Luwe as he’s fondly called in this interview with National Pilot entertainment crew, AJIKOBI AHMED and KAYODE ADEOTI, speaks on the moral decadence that has eaten deep into the fabric of the entertainment sector, among other germane issues.
It’s a good thing seeing you in the state of harmony, what actually brought you to Ilorin?
I don’t have any business I run other than film production. I came purposely for the shooting of the movie by my son and brother, Saheed Balogun. I got a call about three days ago that I must be in Ilorin.
What is the storyline of the movie?
For security reason, Nigerians being what they are, I will not want to leak anything out now, the producer might do but as for me, it’s not my personal job.
Can you make comparison between the era of stage performance and what we have now that is video?
When we started this job, a good artiste must start from stage performance that is why we’re called theatre people. Theatre means, dramatic personae must be able to interpret roles well and make the world believe your message. The transition is from stage to Television programme to Radio and to celluloid. Later, late Muyi Aromire, discovered video film. There is a world of difference between video film and cinema. In fact, those times, we don’t have equipment in Nigeria other than camera, video crew and so on. For a production to be successful, it has to be taken to London and US for final production. However, the Federal Government later purchased the equipments. But now, a lot of our artistes don’t pass through this stage, they can only act on set, which is not a new thing, anybody can act on set. But if an artiste mess up on stage, he could be embarrassed, insulted and all that.
There is the alleged seniority issue between you and Bello Salami aka Oga Bello, what is the true picture?
It’s a lie. Mr Bello is my big brother. That’s our problem in this country, if they want to destroy a relationship, they will cause a kind of unreasonable issue. There was never an issue between us on who is the senior. I can never forget him in my life. We are like biological brother, a lot of people thought I’m from Ilorin, Kwara State because of our relationship whereas I’m from Oyo State.
Being a veteran in this field, how has the journey been so far?
I started the journey with my late director, Ojo Olarewaju Oladipupo, whose stage name is Baba Mero. After his demise, my brothers, Mr Bello took over and became his assistant. When a lot of things went wrong in that company, people went away but me, Mama Awero, Mr Bello stood together and by God’s glory, we made it. Before we could organise any show then, we will have to go and borrow money with heavy interest.
What film in particular brought you into limelight?
Before I joined Ojo Oladipo, the first film I watched, titled ‘Ise and Aso’, a production of University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University, aroused my interest; that day, I said to myself that I must become one of the Nigerian’s famous artistes. I discussed it with my brother and later, we went to watch Baba Mero’s stage show, after the performance, we met with him to discuss our intention then he obliged us. My first film with him actually shot me into limelight. The title of the story then was ‘Omilodanu, Agbe kofo’. I played about three roles in the show. I was so dynamic that I can play any role. And you won’t believe I played three characters because our make-up artistes were on ground and very professional.
How did you come about your stage name, Papi Luwe?
One cannot easily connect with Sunday Omobolanle, if you want to be successful in this job, you must have name that connect. My director gave me the name. There was a man then called Aluwe, he used to behave irrationally, so because he had positive and negative parts, they felt I can enter such character. In our films, Mr Bello always represented the elites while I portray the illiterates. Our illiterate audience will easily connect with me while the elite with Mr Bello.
There was a time you abandoned video movie for television series show, what accounted for that?
I never quit that field but one cannot compare 1980s to this present time. The piracy rate has affected the industry. To me, cost of movie production is high and the Nigerian piracy market can make one gain nothing. Imagine a situation where I run to bank for a loan to shoot a movie and afterwards, it’s pirated, won’t I run into bankruptcy? It’s over four years I’ve stopped shooting movie because I don’t want to run into debt. Film supposed to supersede Television programme but reverse is the case. If your story is not good enough, television will not take it.
Members of the public have over time complained about some of your story lines, production quality and likes, is it that the censor board in the industry is not up to the task?
Government supposes to do something about it too, especially in the area of piracy. This is giving some of us hypertension. We want government to assist us especially in the Yoruba sector of the movie industry.
What has been your greatest regret on this job?
I don’t want to remember that day again, the day our boss, Baba Mero passed away. We were on set when we got the news.
Moral decadence has taken centre stage in the movie industry such as sexual harassment by directors and producers, what is your take on this?
Honestly, it is true but I don’t do such. My wife, Peju Ogunmola did not want to become an artiste but I convinced her because she believed that the industry is corrupt. But, the indiscipline is now in every sector, doctors are messing around with patients and magistrates, judges are having affairs with lawyers. Good example of this is what happened recently at the Obafemi Awolowo University. A lecturer is on the verge of ruining his career because he allegedly wanted to have sex with a student. If you cannot help leave me, don’t compound issues. I’m a disciplined man to the core. If your story is not organised, I won’t participate in it. Our people don’t think about integrity, some of them fight on the streets, go out with another man’s wife. 99 per cent of them are rouges and nuisance. We are the one teaching people but majority of us don’t practise what we preach in movies. They don’t have discipline. Baba Ogunde of blessed memory will always say, discipline yourself but don’t deprave yourself.
There is this rumour that your first son, Sunkanmi was born out of wedlock…?
No, his mother who happened to be my first wife died. She died December 5, 2005. Peju Ogunmola is his stepmother but people don’t know because of their cordial relationship. I don’t have many children but I thank God.
Do you wish them to follow your step?
If they wish, but the two ladies have married, they don’t have interest in the entertainment world.