In an interview with Vanguard, vetran Nigerian actor Chiwetalu Agu who is known for his frequent use of slang and cliches in his movies has explained why and how he uses them.
Read excepts from interview with Vanguard
Interviewer; “Your fans are fascinated by your frequent use of some phrases in movies, do you feel comfortable using these phrases?”
Agu; “There was a time I thought that writers have not done enough justice to the screen plays. Information, education and entertainment are the three key elements one must apply in writing. Entertainment for instance, is lacking in most of our scripts, so the idea was to create specific language slang, phrases, cliches, bylines and cash point to entertain people.
If you recall when we produced “Tabo”, the movie was supposed to be full of sorrows; dealing with the Osu cast system in Igboland. Imagine in the Holy Book, where God made us all equal before Him, and man decided to segregate between what he calls ‘the son of the soil, and a slavery (a living sacrifice to the gods).’Therefore, I decided to create a comic relief to calm down a situation. Even if you are watching a tragic movie, you would have cause to laugh. That was why I introduced the slang in the 90s and today, everybody is happy for it. The elderly people now use those bylines to be happy, when watching my movies.”
Interviewer; “Are these ‘phrases’ contained in the scripts you are given to interpret in movies?”
Agu; “No script writer has ever written my cliches or bylines. Until tomorrow, nobody can do it. It’s either I asked the script writer, producer or director what the story line is all about, from which I would create something based on what you have relayed to me or I would pick from my encyclopedia. I have over one thousand unused signature tunes.
Even if I have over one thousand scripts, I will see where to put one or two ‘slang’ to spice up the story. On the spot, I would create something. While on any set, I always asked the director or producer to give me the summary of the story so that I can create something that would fit into it. All my movies are sold out because of this signature.
Executive producers and directors today insist that I must put it in any movie I’m featuring in. In fact, it’s the major reasons today that I am getting more roles in movies. This is not common among other actors. Many actors are not creative. They just go on set to act what is in the script without spicing it up. There must be extra home work if you want to be different. The crowd does not pay anybody; when they count you, they count others. But when they single you out before counting others it’s a very big advantage. That’s the edge you have over every other actor. I create the inspiration from my encyclopedia. It comes in many ways, but also, it must be there in every movie.”
Chiwetalu Agu has done about 950 productions since 1981 till date and doubts if any actor in Africa as well as the world over has such a record. He has been consistent in his acting career since 1981 and not getting tired. Today, he has the highest awards in Africa, about 57 awards and still counting.
This is a list of some of his popular exclamations;
4. Ara nwanyi asaba!
6. A gwomu aju bunye ike nwanyi .
7. Nwanyi ajadu akwaa mu iko.
8. Aka ose adighi mma na otele .
9. mbgagbu Uwa agbabguo uwa.
10. Nkoli akolia n’elu kolia n’ala.