BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Ovy’s Voice explores the life of Ovy, a physically challenged twenty-seven-year-old make-up artist who is trying to navigate the challenges that come with her muteness situation by avoiding love altogether. She lives with her cousin, YV, and connects so well with her clients that they keep coming back. One of them is Mrs G, a party-loving well-to-do Yoruba woman in her fifties, who is bent on finding a ‘nice husband’ for Ovy because she thinks the young woman is a ray of sunshine. When Ovy meets Mrs G’s son, Anaan, by chance, she is reminded of a terrible episode she had with him once where he mistook her for a beggar and instantly dislikes him. The feeling is mutual until Anaan finds out about her disability. He feels guilty, and while trying to make peace, he develops feelings for her that would change the course of everyone’s life.
The unfamiliar angle of seeing life from the point of view of a physically challenged person is one of the many things that make this story fly. This is supposed to be the theme, and we are oh so loving it until we see it switch from that to abuse. Jarring as that is, and maybe slightly distracting too, the writer cum producer, Biodun Stephen, wields the story such that we are only lost for a moment. We arrive at a fairly satisfying resolution, even though we cannot forgive the writer for not seeing the disability perspective through. It would have been a greater story if it focused on speaking for people living and triumphing in spite of physical limitations. Then the title would have had a deeper meaning and the perspective would be richer. But it is what it is.
Ovy’s Voice is shot in three locations only; Ovy’s house, Anaan’s house and Ovie’s shop, yet there isn’t a lag or lull, and we are glued to it, following the story like our lives depend on it. Doing it all with only four major characters makes this even more interesting.
Bisola Aiyeola plays Ovy, and is fantastic at it. We find her playing a speech-impaired character believably and without words, giving a tear-jerking performance. Shaffi Bello is Mrs G, and she deviates from the prim and proper Queen’s-English-speaking mother we are used to and portrays a typical Lagos mama who understands the streets but lives outside it. Shaffi Bello brings the humour in this film effortlessly. Uche Obodo plays YV. Her chemistry with Bisola is fluid. Mofe Duncan plays Anaan, and while he doesn’t try too hard, his effort is just enough. These four bring the story so much life that we are quick to forget the shortcoming that is the illegible text messages they exchange. No, we do not forget, we just forgive it. Because we don’t hear Ovy’s voice until much later, we are left at the mercy of the written subtitles, but half of these escape us, making some parts hard to follow.
The theme songs are brilliant. From Johnny Drille’s sultry voice in his superb cover of Di’ja’s ‘Aww’, to Bisola’s ‘Turn out the lights’, to Gabriel Afolayan’s ‘Kokoro Ife’, the repertoire of songs is sweet and fitting. The locations are cool, the cinematography uses colours we don’t want to take our eyes away from, the make-up studio could use a few more customers, and YV’s reactions could be truer-to-life. The director, Dimeji Ajibola, knows where he is taking the film to, and takes us along with him, and by the end of the film, you feel like you have just consumed a plate of Nigerian jollof. One without chicken though.
Ovy’s Voice is a brilliant attempt, and it doesn’t leap over loops to be. It is a fine blend of a good story, great acting and smooth directing. It is a 2017 film.