Written by Idara Owodiong-Idemeko
As old as she may be, Nollywood is a still a budding industry that is still yet to fully grasp that there is a real art to entertainment. The constant output of half-baked films and television shows with atrocious storylines and never ending parts, along with the low quality of production in so many of these films and shows is nothing short of awful. Consequently, my interest in Nollywood was almost non-existent till Ndani TV’s new television series, Gidi Up showed up on my twitter news feed.
Growing up on old, legendary sitcoms like Masquerades, The Village Headmaster, Papa Ajasco, Fuji House of Commotion, Area C and dramas like Superstory, I had always wondered what happened to quality Nigerian Television shows because after these various shows ended, I could never find new Nigerian shows that were just as good or better. Unfortunately, I never got into the Tinsel hype and living outside of Nigeria when the show began did not help at all. Thus, began my divorce from Nigerian movies and television shows. After giving Gidi Up a chance to prove to me why I needed to come back to Nollywood, I can say that I’m extremely glad to be in back in a relationship with her.
Gidi Up is truly a breath of fresh air in Nollywood. The modern, more relatable approach taken on this show is an especially brilliant strategy to pull young Nigerians in the Diaspora into the film and TV industry of their birth country. One thing that is clearly missing in Nollywood is the presence of young, educated, very well spoken actors and actresses and Gidi Up is changing that with its cast members, content and target audience.
The show centered on the lives of four friends, Obi, Tokunbo, Yvonne and Eki, follows their hustle to make it in the very competitive and expensive city of Lagos. The characters, all trying to live out their dreams as a prominent radio presenter and actor, owner of a tech start-up, fashion designer and prominent photographer respectively, make luminous to us the various challenges young adults face when trying to become successful in a city like Las Gidi. With everyone trying to outdo each other and outspend each other, it comes as no surprise that the characters in Gidi Up highlight the great lengths many are willing to go to live the lavish life. Like many other young adults pursuing their aspirations in life, the characters have to make decisions that will either take them through smooth or rough paths and usually, it’s the latter. They have to learn to deal with whatever decisions they make, accept the consequences of their actions, wiggle themselves out of any trouble they may fall into, avoid any fatalities due to their reckless decisions and of course avoid troubles brought on by dealing with the very evil but sexy Folarin, played by Daniel Effiong.
Jadesola Osiberu has birthed real life characters that are relatable in every way. Attractive as they are, they are heavily flawed, imperfect, fragmented and highly ambitious just like the rest of us. They want it all and they want it now and that makes for a great plot and complex characters, which ultimately culminate in giving us a fantastic series.
Alas, what is a show without intricate and complicated love stories? Gidi Up explores the relationships that can develop between young adults thrust in the hustle and bustle of life in a city like Lagos. Whether the relationship simply be a strong platonic relationship like in Obi and Yvonne’s case or a blossoming, intimate, complex relationship that comes with all its issues like infidelity, wanting different things, not being in the same place, etc., like in Tokunbo and Eki’s case, the show sheds light on all kinds of relationships that come into existence when humans begin to learn who they are, what they want or don’t want out of life and who they want with them on this very challenging journey of life. Familial relationships, friendships, sexual relationships, lust, love, envy, greed, power and hate are things that are all explored on the show as the characters reveal their humanity to the audience through the things they go through.
In essence, the show is absolutely fantastic because of the powerful content and the way the characters reveal the content to its audience. How the show has grown from an eight-minute web series to thirty-minute episodes on television is incredibly impressive. Of course, like any other budding show, it is not without its flaws and it would be completely unfair not to lay all the cards on the table.
In season 1, Gidi Up began with Karibi Fubura in the role of Obi and Oreka Godis in the role of Eki. In season 2, the actors playing these roles changed to OC Ukeje and Titi Sonuga respectively. Although, the latter actors are better actors and suit their roles perfectly, it was unfair to the audience for the abrupt change after getting accustomed to the former actors in their respective roles. Even the drastic change of the actor playing Sharon to Adesua Etomi was perplexing but as I now realize, absolutely necessary. However, the producers of the show should have begun with Ukeje, Sonuga and Etomi in those roles by making sure that these talented actors were in the line up for auditioning for the roles. The producers have not stated why there was a cast change but one can only hope that the way this cast change happened will not be repeated as it would be a grievous mistake to change the faces of characters every season.
Although, not intending to get too technical, it is imperative to state that the cinematography of the show still has great room for improvement. The overall quality is impressive and greatly admired. However, the slight flaws lie in the actual construction of the shots. There are many unnecessary zoom shots and often times a restricted depth of field is not used to keep the audience’s focus on one element of the scene. Additionally, there is still yet to be a balance of sounds on the background and foreground. Although, these observations may seem trivial, it is necessary for every aspect of the show to be critiqued in order for the overall betterment of the show.
Gidi Up has immense potential and from the credits, which are edited exquisitely to the incredibly fitting music on the show, its technical cinematic elements will only continue to improve. Gidi Up deserves praises for its choice in soundtrack. Sound and music is such an important part of film, TV, or whatever visual art form and Gidi Up has got the absolute best music on the show, which somehow manages to fit perfectly to each episode’s theme. Consequently, we offer our many thanks to Gidi Up for introducing many of us to Tay, Sute and the Bantu Collective.
Gidi Up is nothing short of impressive and the writers behind it deserve many praises for bringing this how to life on a platform like Ndani TV where so many revolutionary things are happening. While writing this review, I made sure to refute any comparisons to Hollywood shows because this show is exquisite and revolutionary in its own right and it would be unfair to compare it to anything. The actors are growing in their craft, the quality-for Nollywood standards-is mind blowing, and the writing is exquisite as well as very real. The storylines and dialogues are complex and stirring. In essence, this show has marked the beginning of a revolution in the film and TV industry in Nigeria. It has set the standard for the future and many young Nigerians in the Diaspora can now see what Nollywood is truly capable of while still maintaining our Nigerian identity in this area of entertainment.
The fact that the actors are modern but still very Nigerian and very well spoken is so exciting and inspiring. What took the show to a whole new level of fantastic was the inclusion of legendary actors like Bimbo Manuel, Segun Arinze, Joke Silva, Keppy Ekpeyong, Iretiola Doyle, etc., in guest roles. This is what Nollywood needs. A reminder that our actors of old were nothing short of talented, well spoken, extraordinary and amazing at what they did and must not be discarded for actors, who cannot act for pennies, cannot speak English and are just hugely unpleasant to watch.
This standard set by Gidi Up is awe-inspiring and one can only hope that the rest of Nollywood sees this and follows suit. To say that I am impressed is even an understatement. Thank You Gidi Up for bringing me back to Nollywood. You have restored my faith. The remarkable growth from season 1 to 2 means that there is so much more in store for the audience.
If you haven’t gotten on Gidi Up, put on your laptop, go on Youtube and watch every episode from season 1, you will not be disappointed. This show gets an 8.8/10.
P.S: Writers and producers of Gidi Up, we all know shows take mid season breaks but hurry up with episode 6, for season 2. I am literally dying for more.