Nollywood continues to change the game. The London premiere of Philippa Abraham’s hotly anticipated Basira in London filled a mind-blowing SIX screens of the Odeon Cinema Greenwich, a testament not only to growing interest in diasporic settings for Nollywood but also a reminder of a powerful Nollywood presence in the UK and the viability of a market for this film industry.
The red carpet was a sight to be seen: the cast looked phenomenal and I was lucky enough to be snapped with Philippa Abraham herself and actress, producer and PR guru Theodora Ibekwe-Oyebade.
The chaos that was supposed to be the queue was memorable to say the least: either the anticipation of the movie was all too much, or those in the line felt that the system of entry was illogical and took it upon themselves individually to rectify the situation. What began as a queue descended into swathes of excited and annoyed Nollywood fans, with barriers being disregarded and fans ascending the stairs of the Odeon IMAX, Greenwich in a far-from-single-file fashion.
Basira in London stars the brilliant Eniola Badmus as Basira, a Nigerian woman hoping to make a better life for herself by moving to London. In addition to the classic comedy associated with Nigerians coming to ‘pastures greener’ in the UK including a comedic attempt at a car ride and some ever-present wellington boots, Adams also managed to incorporate comments on processes of immigration and the lengths taken in order to secure residency in the United Kingdom in order to make a better life for themselves back home.
Basira’s aspirations of owning a home on ‘Banana Island’, Lagos’s equivalent to Kensington and Chelsea, are met with the reality of a job less than corporate upon her arrival.
I will try to refrain from spoilers but side-splitting does not begin to explain hilarity that I witnessed among the many other avid Nollywood fans. The film opens with Basira’s arrival at the airport in attire that was beyond amusing and the manner in which she journeyed to her accommodation set the tone for a film set in London but that is unapologetically Nigerian.
From Eniola Badmus’s relentless use of pidgin English to the communicative blunders resulting from Basira’s terrible grasp of English slang, this was Nollywood to the fullest. Of course, no film featuring Nigerians set in London would be complete without some reference to Peckham aka mini Lagos.
The film explores the struggles that are associated with immigration and finding one’s footing in a new setting.
Not only does this film explore the struggles that are associated with immigration and finding one’s footing in a new setting, but Basira in London also presents an exaggerated but pertinent culture clash, one that continues to play on the minds of those on and off the continent. Therefore I would definitely recommend going to see this one; it goes on a bit but in every scene there are laughs to be had and lessons to be learned.