By Oludara Ogunbowale
We are excited that another film from the stables of Ebony Life Productions is premiering next month, just in the wake of The Wedding Party 2.
This one, titled The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, is a romantic comedy set to usher in this year’s Valentine season.
The movie, which was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and was addressed as a ‘hidden gem’ by the TIFF panel, was the only Nigerian movie and one of the three African movies featured at the festival.
The Royal Hibiscus Hotel is about a great family with a daughter in London, who is trying to start up her career as a chef. Against all odds, she decides to come back to Nigeria to start up something really big and is quite optimistic about what life has in store for her.
On getting to Nigeria, she finds out that her typical Nigerian mom had already made plans for her to get married by a few match making schemes. But she meets her own kind of man only to find out that he was partnering in the business deal that would get her parents’ hotel sold off as some sort of collateral for the debts that they owe. Hmmmm… No love, No career…
Executive Producer of the film, Mo Abudu says she is excited about showing this movie to audiences in Nigeria and beyond. She says “it has been a special project; a beautiful story of love and comic moments because the film was created to resonate with the young and young-at-heart and reminds them of what it is like to fall in love.”
The Royal Hibiscus Hotel will be released in cinemas on the 9th February 2018 in Lagos and London following an exclusive premiere in Lagos on the 4th of February.
Award winning Filmmaker and Director, Ishaya Bako directed the movie.
One of the cast members of the film, Adeyemi Okanlawon says “The climax and ending of this film is certainly not what Nigerians are used to.” He added that one of the roles of the film industry is to bring to the fore, seemingly subtle issues that people do not talk about so that films such as this would not only spark up conversations in this regard, but also, provide a relatable and encouraging avenue to individuals in the society who see themselves and their situations through these characters.
Zainab Balogun, who also played the very efficient and dramatic Wonu in Wedding Party 1 and 2 plays Ope this time but more as an original, determined and go-getter character.
She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Adeniyi who own the boutique hotel. Ope is strong and determined but soft too. Zainab Balogun is casted like you have never seen before. She says she was able to interpret the character as best as she was able to because she could relate well with the Ope character.
Jide Kosoko who played Zainab’s father says he enjoyed working on the set of the film as Mr. Adeniyi and most of the challenges that the character encountered were alleviated by the help of Mrs Adeniyi played by Rachael Oniga.
Jide Kosoko says he enjoyed every bit of his time on set and being directed by Ishaya Bako made things even better, noting that, “He is a good example of who a director should be.” He also believes the story teaches that romance between couples is not a factor of age and everyone should watch out for the extraordinary.
Lala Akindoju who played Chika says she had a lot of fun and enjoyed working with Ishaya. She noted that the role was challenging but she made sure to give it her A-game. She says Chika brought in some comic relief and she hopes that the audience are able to have some good laughs.
The film has been predicted to be one of the top ten films of 2018 but only viewership and satisfactory levels of the audience would tell.
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