There’s plenty of drama in “Mama Drama”-Peju Akande

Starring Osas Ighodalo, Kehinde Bankole, Kunle Remi, Shaffy Bello, Chinyere Wilfred, Adunni Ade, Femi Adebayo. Directed by Seyi Babatope

Mama Drama is a beautiful story; it’s the story of a couple’s search for a baby. Those who are lucky to have children without any complication may not fully understand the agony of this young couple; Mena played by Osas Ighodalo and her husband, Gboyega, played by Kunle Remi.

Mena has had six miscarriages. Losing babies at six months can be devastating to anyone, rich or poor. Expectedly, they soon get tired of this vicious cycle having explored all avenues, but because they are rich and can afford it, they settle for surrogacy as their best option for a child. They announce the decision to their family- Gboyega’s mum and sister played by Shaffy Bello and Aduni Ade respectively and their news is greeted with scorn by Mama, who can’t hide her disgust at her daughter-in-law’s inability to carry a pregnancy to term!

Mama, like the typical mother-in-law lays the fault, squarely, at her daughter-in-law’s feet. At this point, you can almost say – “I can predict the outcome of this movie. I can tell what will follow in the average Nigerian movie…Mama will eventually push Mena out, Gboyega will marry another woman or something like that…” but Mama Drama is notyour average Nollywood fare. It doers not present the predictable outcome you get in most Nollywood films. Mama Drama arrests you, confounds you, annoys you and enthralls you.

It will have you asking yourself: “So this kind of thing is possible?”

What is going to happen? Plenty.

Will they find a surrogate? They did and her name is Kemi.

Will Gboyega fall in love with Kemi, especially after Mena accuses him of liking her? She shows how much of a woman she is when she gets jealous after watching her husband caress Kemi’s stomach to feel the baby kick. He denies it but her jealousy leads her to speak about how society cancels women who use surrogates; “they are never enough, they are never mothers in the true sense. Watching another woman carry what I’m supposed to carry, carrying my child…I am the one who is not woman enough to carry your child!

As the movie unravels, you wonder, what will happen when Kemi, played by Kehinde Balogun gives birth to the child? Will she demand to have the child especially after we see her suffer loss due to a freak accident?

You will wonder if she will get greedy and make unnecessary demands; her husband, Dotun, played by Femi Adebayo looks like the type to use his wife to make money off a situation such as this. So you make predictions ahead because you think you know how stuff like these play out; Mama Drama doesn’t check the tired list of “what to expect from Nollywood.” Instead it keeps you seated and wondering where it will lead to.

The theme of surrogacy isn’t popular this side of the world; this is not to say it doesn’t exist. It is mostly done in secret which is why the twists in the tale makes it all the more believable and sad altogether. Mama Drama is loosely based on true events and like most true stories on screen play, a few of the incidents have been tweaked to protect the identity of the people involved.

What makes Mama Drama a must watch?

The drama!

Right from the opening scenes; when Mama discovers her heavily pregnant daughter-in-law, she throws a fit, asking why she isn’t informed Mena is pregnant. She accuses the couple of deliberately keeping the news from her, “Your wife is pregnant and I didn’t know…” they tell her they are keeping things quiet but she dismisses them with a curt “ …since they said I am the one killing children.”

That very night, perhaps because of Mama’s outburst or because she just can’t keep a pregnancy to term, we watch Mena lose that pregnancy. Her pain is palpable, her anguish real as she screams herself hoarse.

With surrogacy, complications arise; war began between the two mamas, the ‘real’ mother and the surrogate, who gets the baby in the bitter battle that ensues.

Who wins? Who loses?

You will have no regrets watching this movie; the flash back technique is cool as it breaks monotony and explains a lot of missing scenes in the sequence.

However, the movie has bits of annoying parts.

As is common with Nollywood, there were unnecessary time consuming dialogues; thankfully they spared us the ubiquitous buffonry with jesters masquerading as gatemen and cooks who add nothing to the story; of note is the garden scene where Mama finally finds out her younger sister’s twins were also surrogates; this could have been an opportunity for fine talents on display but production missed it so much it ruined the entire scene. The sound was off, the lighting uneven and it showed that all three characters of Mama, Mena and Mama’s sister weren’t even in the garden at the same time though we were made to think they were. It’s a total boohoo!

Mena, (Osas) who is the star of this movie does not shine, she appears too bottled up; she could have done better playing the barren and scorned wife of a rich young man; me thinks she didn’t throw herself into this role. Her tears are staged, (well yeah, she’s acting) but her act is not smooth; like her patchy makeup, the tears run lines on her face…as I imagine it should but for the wife of millionaire, one with a private jet, that makeup is cheap. Camera angles don’t do her justice especially in the garden scene plus, hey, she has no friends! No, not one!

Kehinde Bankole, aka Kemi the surrogate has always been a show stopper in several movies I have seen, even staged dramas but in Mama Drama, despite the fact that her role is prominent, she did not show us that star quality like in October 1 for instance; even in Desperate Housewives, she showed plenty of talent. In Mama Drama, the drama is missing; she is too calm, too in control for a mother who sees her child being taken from her. Yes she may have breached a contract but there is no fire in her, no fire suggesting this could be a battle she might lose.

Simi, played by Aduni Ade also failed to step up on her role as sister and the confidante of the young couple; beyond just a fine face, people want to see you act; she missed the plot in all of the drama that should have been seen in the court scenes. She is totally out of it as their lawyer, mostly staring blankly and getting up as if remembering she is meant to be a fiery lawyer defending her brother and his wife in a fight for their lives.

And the court scenes should have been the stage for real drama with both lawyers trying to outdo themselves, the mothers throwing themselves at the mercy of a stoic judge. Haven’t they seen American court dramas?

So, where is the drama in Mama Drama?

Unfortunately, it is overtaken by court jesters, aka mama and aunty. Nollywood rears its ugly head of providing slapstick especially where it is not needed.

After all said, is there any reason to watch, Mama Drama?

You better not miss it! Mama Drama is streaming now on Netflix and is a good movie to watch this weekend

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