ByÂ Benjamin NJOKU
Creative and versatile Abayomi Fash Lanso remains one of the few Yoruba actors who has successfully crossed all
barriers to make a name in Nollywood.
With several credible movies and lead roles in the kitty, Yomi, the Gorilla, as he is more popularly called by colleagues and friends, cut his teeth as an actor in the Yoruba movie circles.
We ran into him at the recently held Best of Nollywoods awards and this is the result of that encounter.
Why are you nicknamed the Gorilla?
Yes, Iâ€™m a gorilla because I can stand up to anything, any situation, at all times. I fear nobody but God.
Could this statement have been made out of some form of challenges?
It is not about challenges at all. It is just the way you want to place yourself, and that is just it. Some new things are going to happen soon, which I will not like to divulge now. Time will tell and when it starts happening, you will now say, â€˜oh no wonder he is called the Gorillaâ€™.
We stand for the truth and the welfare of everybody in the industry, and that is why for a very long time, we stood as Gorillas in the industry. I will always tell you the truth about any situation, whether you like it or not; that is just me.
You have been involved in quite a number of very voodoo movies like â€˜Iboji Olokadaâ€™, which featured many magical scenes. Why do you accept such roles?
There is nothing wrong with the role that I played. Iâ€™m an actor and that is what Iâ€™m paid to do. I will be failing in my duty as an actor if I donâ€™t live up to expectation. Because Iâ€™m well paid to do what Iâ€™m supposed to do. So, it was not a challenge in any way.
Is it true that when one plays too many voodoo roles, especially, in the Yoruba films, the person may get attacked spiritually in real life?
Attack? I tell you itâ€™s all rubbish.Â Who will attack you? Did you offend anybody or try to take someoneâ€™s job that would prompt to want to attack you?
But if a situation like that exists, it means that the person in question must have been experiencing the attack before accepting to play any role. If at all you are going to have an attack, it will be physical and not spiritual.
The only problem that may arise for one taking up voodoo roles is the embarrassment that may follow after the movie makes its debut. There have been situations where actors and actresses have been attacked verbally on the streets on account of the roles they played in movies. Thatâ€™s the kind of thing that may happen to one.
Have you experienced such situation?
No, I think people are beginning to realise that it is just a world of make belief and things donâ€™t happen the way it happens in the movies. Some people get very emotional about these things. But it is all a make belief.
Apart from acting, what else do you do?
I sell wristwatches. And if you donâ€™t have money, donâ€™t come.Â I sell wristwatches, sun glasses and belts and for now, I sell only to men.
How do you feel about negative publicity?
People will always write things about you. Some write negative things about you because you are popular. And some believe that writing about you helps them sell the newspapers and magazines. This is true because Nigerians like reading gossips and junk stuff about celebrities.
What is your opinion about the quality of movies produced in Nollywood today?
The standard of our movies is just rubbish.Â This is the bitter truth because if you watch the African Magic channel and the rest of them, the movies aired are really not worth it at all.Â And some of the time, I wonder why we allow such movies on the cable station.
It is sub standard. And if they must air our movies, they must be of quality and class. ItÂ is better to show a quality movie rather than the more than 1000 they insult our sights with every week.
There is need for us to begin to shoot our movies on certain formats so that they can enjoy cinema premiere.
We really need to tidy up our act. If the script writers donâ€™t have any more ideas, the standards will remain the same.
Script writers and directors must, as a matter of urgency, encourage producers to set standards and a format in which our films should be shot.
As a veteran, what would you consider the best format for film?
Veteran ke. Where will you put the likes of Dele Odule, Oga Bello and Jide Kosoko?Â Iâ€™m not a veteran producer.
Okay, as a professional, which format do you think is best?
Like I said earlier, we need to spend quality time to produce quality movies. There should be no need to rush into producing worthless movies. If it is going to take about four or five producers to come together with the finance and embark on a major project, letâ€™s do it and save the movie industry. There is no short cut to a good movie. The major problem we have today is the rush by actors and actresses to become directors.
This is rubbish.Â I want to show people that Iâ€™m a good producer is not enough to rush to locations and come out with rubbish.Â It does not really make sense to me.
What do you think can be done about this?
The practitioners should wake up and smell what they are eating. Nobody can do it for them.Â Even the government has little or nothing to do on the issue because if the professionals are not professionals enough to stand up and say we cannot condone this, then the rubbish continues.
They have to wake up and say enough is enough and set down rules and regulations. If the government sees that they are doing something good, they will want to come into it. But when they see that they are not doing anything fantastic, they will stand aloof.
That is why I said it is not the government that will make things happen but professionals and practitioners. If we do not arrest the situation at hand right now and allow it to deteriorate, it will affect everyone of us.Â WeÂ need to come together and finalise and formalise how we want to set things straight. The days when consumers grab anything that comes out of the movie industry are over. Consumers are wiser. The Yorubas will say that if you push a dog to the wall, it will bite.
If the deal is right, can you play nude?
Itâ€™s in the line of duty. So, itâ€™s no big deal. You know what, acting is all it is about and what it entails.Â There are nude mad men on the road that we see all the time. But when someone plays a nude mad man, we frown at it.Â Itâ€™s just that our society is not ready for it.
Itâ€™s not as if the Americans and the British are doing extraordinary things, or they donâ€™t have a culture. Itâ€™s all a make belief.
Playing a nude role is not a big deal at all. I donâ€™t like it when some people fool themselves by saying, â€œfor $1m, I will not do that.â€ I look at such persons and I laugh.Â For aÂ fee of N1m, people will smooch like mad.
And to show mere breasts and the backside for N100, 000, 000, hmm . . . wahala go dey!