BY ADERONKE ADEYERI
He has seen both the worlds of English-speaking and Yoruba-speaking sectors to qualify as a good judge and analyst on the state of our movie industry.
In this chat with Weekend Groove, Antar talks about himself, the industry and reveals some secrets never spoken about before. Excerpts:
How did you come about the name Antar Laniyan ?
I know the name Laniyan is not a special one but Antar is peculiar. Some years back, a pregnant woman had a rival who wanted to marry her husband at all cost.
This rival went diabolical to make sure the pregnant woman, my mother, did not give birth to me. And after staying 18months in my mother’s womb, they made some findings and it was revealed that my mother had to beg this rival for me to come to life.
Getting to my mother’s rival, she said they had to look for a goanna. Goanna is an animal called Aworinwo in Yoruba language but typical Yorubas call Goanna ‘Antar’. So, they used the Antar or goanna to make concoction for my mother. After some hours, I came to life and my mother decided to name me ‘Antar’ after the animal.
What was your father’s reaction to you being named after an animal ?
My father loved the name. After all, my mother didn’t know he was loved by another woman and the woman could come out to say she was the cause of my mother’s trouble.
Would you say acting has made you a fulfilled person?
Yes, but not in terms of money. I enjoy and derive pleasure in what I am doing and God has been good to me in my choice of career.
Money wise, I am not close to the target. Many people see me on screen and believe this man is making it big but when I consider what I have in my pocket , I know Antar is poor (laughs).
How then do you intend to make money?
Well, if I get good investors who are willing to pump money into my projects and I am given money equal to the strength I pour into directing and acting films, then the money will come.
How long have you been acting?
I started acting at age 15, right from my secondary school days, but I started professionally in June 18, 1980 when I met Ben Tomoloju who was then a journalist.
He predicted I was going to do well and better in acting rather than as a soldier, which I earlier wanted to be. Again , all thanks to my principal, late now, and Ben Tomoloju, still living. Whenever I get an award, I dedicate it to him.
Who are your contemporaries in the film industry?
Sola Fosudo, Richard Mofe Damijo, Nobert Young, Yinka Quadri, Taiwo Hassan and others. Though most of them are older in age, but these are my people.
Why did you dump English movies for the Yoruba ones?
I didn’t dump English movies, I just did something for Afriwood . It is only that you go where you are invited.
Would you say not being invited like before could be traced to tribalism ?
Partially yes, at first, I saw it as marginalisation but when I started directing Super Story, Wale Adenuga and myself allowed anybody, be it Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa in as much as you are good in the act to be part of the soap. This went a long way to kill tribalism or marginalisation in the industry.
What is your take on the dominance of the English speaking sector in Nollywood?
I don’t agree to that but maybe because they are well paid which gives the chance to do more publicity. The more noise you make, the bigger your fame. Also, we have more Igbos in the English sector and they are known for helping one another. That is a tradition the Yorubas lack.
Do you think the English actors are making more money than the Yorubas ?
In the past, yes, but not anymore. But if truly they are making more money than the Yorubas, I wish to be invited to confirm that . The market is very competitive at the moment.
Which is more rewarding; being a producer, director, or an actor?
It depends on what the individual wants. If you want money, producer. If what you want is fame, go for acting and if you want to be fulfilled artistically, then choose directing.
How do you handle female fans?
I have a cordial relationship with my fans. I make sure a fan feels appreciated. I could go as far as parking my car to greet a fan or even a hug if needed.
Has your wife ever been intimidated by your popularity and advances from female friends?
No, my wife is a very strong woman and I appreciate her a lot. But there was a day I was in the car with her and a woman blew me a kiss from a commercial bus. While doing that she nearly fell off the bus.
My wife laughed and alarmed at the same time that the woman would fall off. My wife is understanding, she would even tell me if I didn’t make a romance scene look real. So these days, I do them well without holding back, knowing I have an understanding wife.
Was there any point you ever regretted choosing acting as a career?
Yes, there was a time my wife was to undergo an operation to have our child and I couldn’t be there with her because of my job.I just signed the papers and left because my director, Andy Amenechi, was waiting on set, the film was “Strange woman” and there was no phone to even know how she was faring.
I got to the hospital around 2am and thank God, mother and child were okay. Also, even as the first child, I was not there to bury my father when he died because I was on set and the show must continue. These are times I feel sad about the shortcomings attached to my choice of career.
There is always trouble in Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners ANTP, why?
Everything is calm now but recently somebody I mean Ashaolu was declared a winner of an election that didn’t take place. That was the reason for the last crisis. People felt cheated as this was the reason Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners of Nigeria TAMPAN was created. Funny enough,most people that are members of TAMPAN are also members of ANTP.
What measures are to be taken to prevent things like this?
People should learn to do things in the right manner. I mean constitutionally.
Why did you choose acting as a career?
I didn’t plan to become an actor but people like my principal, Ben Tomoloju saw my acting skills during my secondary education.
I won many awards for my school and so, they encouraged me. In one of the competitions, Ben Tomoloju was one of the judges and after the competition, he invited me to his group and that was how the whole thing started. I wanted to be a soldier as a lad, I used to bring my peers together , marching and I play the commandant role.
Along the line,my mother began to sell goods in the Maamy market in Ilaro, Ogun state within the army barracks, 202 Battalion to be precise and this also increased my desire to be a soldier.
Would you agree that Nollywood is promoting pornography and indecent dressing among our youths?
I will only agree when you say a part of Nollywood. For indigenous actors, we emphasize on movies that promote our culture, religion , tradition and our type of society.
I will not do a movie I know parents will not want their kids to see. But I know some of our girls are going wild. We must all fight against pornography and indecent dressing in our society.
Any future plan to groom the upcoming actors?
Yes I am planning to have my academy where they will be taught the rudiments of acting.