"Why Producers Stopped Casting Me, Sanyeri And Kamilu Kompo Together For Comic Roles" -- Harejan, Mr Portable

Why Producers Stopped Casting Me, Sanyeri And Kamilu Kompo Together For Comic Roles Harejan, Mr Portable

If you are a fan of Yoruba movies, you should be familiar
with his face. Very talented Olu Olowogemo, popularly known as Harejan is a force to reckon with when it comes to distinguished comic actors in the Yoruba movie sector of Nollywood. The dimunitive Abeokuta, Ogun State, based role interpreter is comedy personified because everything about him would make you laugh.

 The way he walks, the way he talks, and even the way he keeps quiets, would all draw laughter, even from a person with a heart of stone. How much more a soft-hearted being? Such is the talent of Mr. Portable as Harejan is also called. And you would not be surprised he is the kind of comic actor he has turned out to be the moment you find out he was trained by a fantastic actor like Ebun Oloyede, popularly known as Olaiya Igwe. Say, like trainer, like trainee, as far as comedy is conerned, and you would not be wrong.

Meanwhile, when the upsurge in comedy movie productions in the Yoruba movie industry that threw up the likes of Olaniyi Afonja better known as Sanyeri and Adekola Tijani a.k.a. Kamilu Kompo, came to be, Harejan became one of the actors whose careers were boosted by the development. Since there were more comedy stories from producers, there were more comic roles simultaneaously for the likes of Sanyeri, Kamilu Kompo and in deed, Harejan. With a very successful comic movie back then titled: " Muniru ati Ambali", Sanyeri and Kamilu Kompo, the duo who played the lead roles in the rib-cracking film did not only hit the limelight due to their expectional delivery of their roles, but also kind of registered themeslves as an inseperable comic duo in the industry. Hence, more comic roles kept coming for the 2 of them together.

And somewhere along the line, to add a touch of fresh breadth, producers started throwing Harejan into their midst with comic roles for him too, and they kind of became a comic trio, consequently. However, at a point along the line, the trend stopped abruptly. Why? You must be asking.
Recently, this writer had an interview appointment with Harejan who is usually difficult to track down because of his busy schedule. As a matter of fact, he was on his way from Abeokuta to Lagos when he managed to squeeze out the time to grant interview with this writer on the stregnth of close relationship. He parked along the road somewhere in the heart of town and the interview was conducted in his car. For starters, Harejaan was asked to introduce himself for the ball of the interview to start rolling and the way he responded was even funny. "For the purpose of this ineterview, can you introduce yourself with full name and nicknames?" He was asked. Hear his response, " I am Ambassador (Dr.) Olu Olowogemo, Harejan, Mr. Portable," Cuts in: " Which one is Ambassador (Dr.)?" This writer asked impatiently. " I recently infused that as my titles," he said funnily as general laughter followed. And quick one, why has Harejan chosen the path of comedy as an actor? He was asked and he answered intelligently. " I don't do comedy alone as an actor. I also act serious roles. But it is only that most producers who call me for jobs usually prefer to give me comic roles. But if you go and watch my self produced movies, you would see that I play different roles. In other words, I'm a diversified actor."

Talking about diversification, what did he think gave him the diversification looking at his career in retrospect? Good question? Hear him as he answered: " It was the way I was trained. Because when I was still in training, we were thought how to act all roles. For instance, if we got to where we wanted to stage a play for school students and we discovered that we could not find the person assigned to play the role of a doctor, for example, someone who was meant to play the role of a father might be re-assigned to play the role of the doctor.

 So we would always switch roles unexpectedly which means you must be good enough to act all roles as an actor when we were being trained." And that was what brought the interview to the point of asking Harejan to name who trained him. " The person who trained me is a big brother to me, Alhaji Lukman Ebun Oloyede, Olaiya Igwe." No wonder! You must have admitted. This writer admitted likewise too on finding that out. Because those who have watched Olaiya Igwe, the self acclaimed King of Theatre on the screen, they would know that the case of Harejan is a case of the apple not falling far from the tree. What the Yorubas would interpret as: " Omo ti Eya ba bi, Eya ni o njo."

At a point in time, acting comic roles became the order of the day in the Yoruba movie industry which pushed the likes of Funke Akindele to take up the role of eponymous character in "Jenifer" which changed the story of her career, same as Femi Adebayo playing the role of Jelili in a movie so titled as : "Jelili" and Odunlade Adekola climbing the ladder into stardorm with his comic antics in "Emi Ni Ire Kan", so as an actor who operates in the industry, what does Harejan feel wa responsible for that development at that material time? This is how he answered: " If you are an actor and you can't make people laugh, which ever role you are usually typecast for, if comic abilities are missing in your delivery, you are a bad actor!" He said bluntly. Speaking further, he added:" You see, these days, most people are depressed as a result of the realities of our country and economy, and the only thing they use to neutralize or suppress their depression remained our movies.

They would slot in the movies for such people as those thinking because their wives or husbands have left them, you know, those already considering suicide, would learn some lessons from the movie and would still laugh till they would forget their sorrow. And that is why all actors must be funny, even if you are acting the role of a witch!"

Now to the question you must have been waiting for, at a point in time, Harejan was regularly seen in movies cast along Sanyeri and Kamilu Kompo as comic trio but it stopped somewhere along the line. What does he think was responsible for the stoppage? " Anyway, let me start by saying that people must have seen that I have very cordial relationship with Sanyeri and Kamilu Kompo which prompted producers to start calling us together to feature in their movies. But somewhere along the line, we had influx of overnight comic actors into the mix since they saw that comic films had taken over. Their coming really gave comic films problems since they were incompetent but were forcing themselves on the screen of our viewers and thereby created issues for us with the demand for comic movies which had gone upward to start coming on the downward slope. Hence, the producers began to invest less into the comic films unlike before and consequently, it affected my being called for roles as trio with Sanyeri and Kamilu Kompo as well. But we thank God that the overnight comic acts are now taking their exit from the scence since they have seen that it is not as easy as they thought. They forgot that even the director of a comic films must be a good comedian because most of the things that would be funny would be unscripted. But it is good that everything is now coming back to normal. And my relationship with Sanyeri and Kamilu Kompo still remain very cordial so you should be seeing more of us together in movies soon."

But what gives Mr. Portable inspirattion when he wants to write stories for his movies? This is how he responded: " I'm always inspired to write stories as a result two kinds of impetus, one, when I think negatively about myself. And two, when I am where they are talking about God. It maybe an Islamic prayer meeting or so. Or even, at a Church program I am invited to. By the time the clerics are delivering their sermons, inspirations usually come for me. And like I said earlier, the other way is when I think negatively about myself since life is made up of good and bad. So, when I think about anything bad happening to me, I get inspirations for my stories. I might just think like; just as I'm going out now, what if this terrible thing happens to me? Though, I would quickly rebuke it by saying God forbid, but inspiration must have come at the same time. And I would start writing my stories with what if? What if? And what if?" Can he then tell us the titles of some of the movies he has produced? And he listed them to include, " Ominira", " Oloburo", " Inu Mimo", "Oju Olohun", " Olohun Ara", " Omidan Olaitan", " Woko Alagbara", " Ekun Meran", " Ota Mokanla", " Bosun Omo Yankee", " Adio Portable", "Adisa Olowo Cairo", and after "Adisa Olowo Cairo", he said his latest film yet to be released is entitled: "Tete Laye".

On a final note, what is Harejan's message for his fans home and abroad? " My first message is to pray for them that may the eyes they watch us with never go blind. And they should keep supporting us like they have always been doing. Meanwhile, this is very important: when ever they want to watch our movies, they should always avoid pirated copies. And also, anywhere they know that if they watch our movies from there, the producer would not make any money through it, they should please avoid it for our sake. Rather, they should always watch from the medium where the producers would also benefit. Thank you all."

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