This Tout From Edo


There were scores of us in the hall last Friday when I saw the new Toyin Abraham movie ‘The Ghost and the Tout’ currently showing in cinemas across the country. The long queue of men and women with popcorn packs and soft drinks in the ticketing hall as we made her way into the hall was enough warning that the ‘juicy’ seats would have been snatched before many of us would get into the hall.

Toyin was inside the cinema hall 4 at the Silverbird Cinemas, Alausa City Mall, Ikeja to help fans locate seats in the darkly-lit hall.

“There is a seat here, there is a seat there,” I heard her say some minutes into the start of the movie.

The hall was filled with ladies and men. I guess there were more women. Or maybe they were the ones who shouted or laughed the most? There was almost no dull scene. We laughed almost throughout while seeing it.

As if on cue, almost everybody in the hall clapped when the credit began to roll at the end of almost two hours of laughing out loud.

I would have been delighted to see the expression on Toyin’s face over this acclamation for a movie that is still receiving thumps up online and off.

Since I saw it, many others have seen the movie with their friends and families and the best way to capture their summation was – Great!

Unlike some great films which had bad cinema runs, ‘The ghost and the tout’ is an exception. You may wonder why. The easy answer is to say good publicity by the producers, who seem to have taken to heart the dictum that movies do not sell themselves. The trailer got over half a million views in 48 hours. The publicity online and offline has helped pull in the crowds to cinemas.

One of the two executive producers, Samuel Olatunji, has incidentally been involved in the promotion of box office hits, such as ‘Wives on Strike’, ‘Alakada Reloaded’ and many more.

This hilarious movie was worth my time. It was one hell of a production that we never saw what was coming. It tells the story of a ghost and a tout (Isila) – played by award-winning Sambasa Nzeribe and Toyin.

Isila’s life seemed to start and end in the ghetto until she met a ghost who was excited that at last he could find somebody who saw him. He recruited Isila into the task of helping him unravel those behind his death.

Isila was not keen on this assignment which saw people in her neigbourhood regarding her as insane. She was almost bundled to a psychiatric hospital by health officials who saw her talking on the road to a figure they could not see. She was beaten black and blue by the girlfriend of the ghost’s best friend, who turned out to be the brain behind his murder.

One day while Isila and others in her hood were enjoying themselves at a carnival in which Fuji star Osupa Saheed was entertaining guests, the ghost showed up and saw on the stage one of the men who killed him. He called Isila’s attention to it and pleaded with her to go inform his fiancé and his best friend.

Unknown to Isila, the best friend, who turned out to be the mastermind, used the information she provided to hunt her.

Isila eventually unraveled the truth and got her life back on track and in turn freed a ghost from the restlessness of his soul.

This flick written by Ms. Abraham, produced by Biodun Stephen and directed by Charles Uwagbai, is star-studded, with actors such as Chiwetalu Agu, Dele Odule, Femi Adebayo, Rachel Okonkwo, Nzeribe, Chioma Akpotha, Omowunmi Dada, Chigurl, Ronke Oshodi-Oke, Josh2funny, Cute Abiola, Bobrisky, Lasisi Elenu, Oshisko Twins, Iya Ibadan and more.

One thing that will continue to stand out this film is the fact that the comic elements do not turn into a farce. Uwagbai exercises artistic control that sees the suspense well-sustained.

The director conveys an uncanny ability to sustain mood and this provides the movie with the ingredient that keeps the viewer immersed in the story.

The actors give a good account of themselves. Toyin, as usual, is convincing as a tout. If the film were all I know about her, I would have written her off as an Edo tout probably playing her trade at the Ikpoba hill market. All the other actors in the ghetto are great. From Lasisi Elenu to Chigurl to Chioma Akphoha and others, they are truly hilarious.

The movie ends with a twist I am not sure any of us in the hall could have expected. With the two scenarios created about the possible killers and with Femi Adebayo’s character harmless in all ways possible, he was the last anyone of us in the hall could have suspected. I give credit to the writers and the director that the end is concealed until, close to the end.

This amazing end brings to mind the conclusion of ‘The Buried Giant’, a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. In this novel, a couple set out in search of their son, who they kept saying was awaiting them to whoever cared to listen. It was at the tail end that it occurred to a reader that it was actually the burial site of the son that they were trying to locate. Ishiguro skillfully kept this end hidden until, well, towards the end.

Like her great exploits last year, this year has not been different for dear Toyin, who has refused to allow her failed marriage to hold her down.

The 2017 theatrical exploits of this Auchi, Edo State-born girl, who many still call Toyin Aimakhu — despite the fact that she announced a change of name to Toyin Abraham — was the life of the sequel to ‘Wives on Strike’, produced and directed by Omoni Oboli. Toyin was simply crazy. Not that other actors were not good. But Toyin was the life of that film, which showed that comedy could be full of messages for us all to learn from. There is no scene with this crazy girl that falls below standard.

In her roles in ‘Pathetic’, ‘Tatu’, ‘Alakada Reloaded’, ‘Okafor’s Law’, ‘The In-laws’, ‘Celebrity Marriage’ and Wives on Strike the Revolution, Toyin gave her all last year. She was like the most-sought-after actor last year and she still remains hot cake this year.

I am seriously looking forward to her outing in Femi Adebayo’s ‘Diamonds in the Sky’ which was shot last year. With direction from respected Kunle Afolayan, I expect Toyin to surpass her previous records.

From the look of things, the cinema halls in Ibadan, Akure, Lagos, Abuja, Benin and others will continue to sell out their tickets to viewers keen on seeing this laugh-till-you-drop comedy with message. The major message in the film seems to have been from a song by KWAM 1 urging us to be careful about relying on people, especially strangers. Sambasa became a ghost because of the help he rendered to a man he helped but later became greedy because N30 million was paid into his account.

My last take: Like Omoni and many others, I am so proud of Toyin. I believe the world will celebrate her and she will be talked about for a long time to come. The accolades and the awards are here!

And as she gives marriage another shot with her engagement on Wednesday to her boo, I wish her all the best. The afflictions of the first outing in matrimony will not be repeated.

Olukorede Yishau.

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