DIRECTOR : Tope Oshin
STARRING : Banky Wellington, Rahama Sadau, T.Boss, Ibrahim Suleiman, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Adesua Etomi, Michelle Dede
RUNTIME : 100 mins
Tope Oshin, the director for this movie, is a female movie director in the Nollywood film industry who is making waves in the entertainment world. Her works shows class, beauty and passes sounding message to the audience. Her penchant for excellence and her drive in ensuring that “no child is left behind” and “female empowerment” is easily noticed in the plot and characterization of the movie.
“Up North” tells the tale of a young man named Bassey Otuekong (Banky Wellington), who against his wish, was sent to Bauchi State to serve his fatherland on the platform of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), by his rich father, Chief Otuekong (Kanayo O. Kanayo); this was in a bid to make Bassey come in reality with life. Bassey got to settle down easily in Bauchi State with the help of his friend, Sadiq (Ibrahim Suleiman), a fellow corp member. Things were not as smooth as Bassey would have wanted in his Place of Primary Assignmment (PPA) and the burden of making things work fell on him and his friends (Sadiq and Aminat). They were able to rise to the challenges which they eventually overcame.
The movie “Up North” was shot in Bauchi with few scenes in Lagos. The rationale behind the location for the movie is not unconnected with the reluctance of fresh graduates (especially those from the South and the East) to serve in the Northern region of the country (Nigeria); probably because of security concerns or the distance. It is still baffling why Chief Otuekong would want his son to go to such place; this is totally in contrast with what is on ground in the country (Nigeria) as rich men would rather want their children’s to do their youth service in big cities like Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt. Maybe that was a message the movie wanted to pass across. The appearance of the State Governor of Bauchi also led credence to the movie.
“Up North” made use of some “everyday” stars we all can relate with; from Banky W to T Boss. All of the acts did an amazing job in driving home the message they want to pass across. The setting of the movie was spectacular as we get to see a foretaste of how interesting Bauchi could be. It was indeed an eye opener to the beauty of the far away state (depending on where you reside though). The language used by the acts was more of the English language and also, Hausa. The issue of language barrier came to play as Bassey could not understand the indigenes when they spoke their language; just as it is seen when he was capturing building structures and the indigenes felt he was taking snapshots of them praying. They tried to engage him but he could not understand what they were saying; save for the intervention of Aminat. The huge importance of the country’s official language was laid bare as it would help in solving some unnecessary misunderstandings.
However, there were a couple of concerns in the movie that would be addressed:
First, it was very hard to find a connection between the love story between Bassey and Aminat. At a time, one would believe she was meant for Sadiq; just as her father pointed out at the social gathering when Bassey first met him. But, it got confusing when Aminat had to react sadly to Bassey’s sister, Idara’s (Michelle Dede) statement that she (Aminat) was not meant for Bassey. One begins to wonder if she had feelings for Bassey, having been betrothed to Sadiq (in principle). There should have been a synergy in the love story line rather than try mix things up. Everything seems to be happening so fast in the movie and there were a couple of times one gets lost in the seemingly “compressed” story line.
Again, Bassey was posted to a school (an educational outfit). One would have expected him to dress like a reasonable man but we rather saw him appear with his ear studs. Needless to say that the School Principal could not ask him remove it. A level of courtesy is expected from corp members but the movie failed in providing that. Also, Bassey was supposed to teach Further Mathematics but he failed in convincing the students to opt for the subject. We would expect that looking at the backwardness of our educational system in the scientific world; a subject like Further Mathematics would help sharpen the minds of the students to prepare for a scientific and technological world like ours. Maybe the movie was interested in raising the next “Usian Bolt” and not another “Albert Einstein.” Little wonder Bassey managed to get the students’ interest in P.E (Physical Education). One “might” also get easily irritated with the way Bassey slammed the door when he was called upon to the Principal’s office to meet with the students’ parents who were agitating against their wards’ participation in the P.E. A question comes to mind: Who dares slams the Principal’s door in such unruly manner? Educationists won’t forgive the movie for this laxity.
Furthermore, there was a scene when a student hit her leg against a stone in the school. The movie should have shown the need for a first aid box in schools but all we saw was an ambulance that appeared from nowhere. Is the movie advocating for what should be or what actually exists? How many hospitals have an ambulance? A whole lot seems muddled up here.
The movie in its entirety was not bad; it raised salient issues:
Take for instance, the role of the religious leader in settling the chaos that was caused by the parents as a result of their agitation to their wards participating in the P.E. Our religious leaders can take a cue from this and help in intervening in difficult issues that arises among people. Also, healthy living was advocated for when Bassey was seen travelling to Bauchi in a taxi. There was a man seen inside the taxi with a ram and also using his chewing stick right inside the taxi. These are health hazards that needed to be discouraged.
Finally, one would want to salute Bassey’s resilience in ensuring that Aisha was able to run with her friends by providing her an artificial inhaler to make use of. It preaches that no one should be deprived of their dreams. No child should be left behind in the attainment of their goals. Aisha had always wanted to run but her father would use her health status to discourage her. But with Bassey, health issue was not a hindrance for Aisha; he proffered a solution and Aisha was able to run. The movie “Up North” preaches that we can do all in our ambit to put smile on the faces of others.
Even if there were serious concerns the movie neglected, it was still “a bit” of a success than an excess; even if we had to settle for a boring ending. The movie already climaxed while we were still seated watching the “dry” last scene. Tope Oshin would have certainly learnt her lessons.