Okirika, that rowdy yet dramatic and sometimes hilarious market where used wears are sold, is the premise upon which a comedy series produced by Muka Ray and powered by the entertainment platform, StarTimes, is being produced.
With a prominent cast lined up for the comedy series, drawn from social media comedians and mainstream actors, the producers say the storyline was written to entertain viewers while passing a moral message.
The cast, in their glamour, gathered at the unveiling over the weekend at an event held at Marriott Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos State.
They include Iyabo Ojo, Mr Macaroni, Zicsaloma, Muka Ray, Jide Kosoko, Olaiya Igwe, Yinka Quadri, Binta Ayo-Mogaji, Toyin Abraham, Toro Aramide, Yvonne Jegede, Jide ‘Jblaze’ Oyegbile, and Kitan Bukola, among others.
Also in attendance were the CEO of StarTimes Nigeria, Alex Jian; Content Director, Viki Liu; COO, Tunde Aina; and ED of OMD, Yinka Adebayo, and representatives of major Nigerian brands.
The new comedy series will debut soon on ST Nollywood Plus, ST Yoruba, PBO and Wakaati TV, all channels exclusive to StarTimes.
Recently, the pay-TV provider partnered with Femi Adebayo, the producer of ‘Ile Alayo’, to adapt his blockbuster movie into a comedy series.
‘Okirika’ is a very relatable phenomenon to most Nigerians; it entails the purchase of fairly used dresses, shipped from overseas, it is affordable and had begun a mainstream business in Nigerian markets.
This is why popular Yoruba actress, Iyabo Ojo, said she decided to partner StarTimes to create a series that is both entertaining yet educative.
The series will also feature Real Warri Pikin, Mercy Eke, Ini Edo, Korede Bello, Woli Agba, Broda Shaggi, Priscilla Ojo, and many others.
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During his speech, Alex Jian, CEO, StarTimes Nigeria, promised more investment in Nollywood.
He said: “In July, I promised that Ile Alayo is just our first step, and StarTimes is going to invest more in local content. Today, we are reuniting for our second project this year. We are still on the journey, welcoming new partnerships, investing in fresh ideas, providing a stage for young talents’’.
Tunde Aina, the chief operating officer of StarTimes, described the story to be about the usual struggle which comes with some compromise; on most occasions, this compromise is packed with repercussions. He hinted that the series promises to be entertaining and didactic.
Mr Aina noted that one of Startime’s biggest markets is the indigenous languages.
He said: “We pass culture and language through entertainment if you recall when Indian movies were popular in Nigeria some 30 years ago, most Nigerians actually understood the language from watching the movies. We have recognised this and we are really going to focus on shows that would perpetuate our culture.”
The Content Director of StarTimes, Viki Liu, expressed gratitude to the directors and coordinators of the project for their creativity.
Yinka Adebayo, Media Reach OMD and partner on the project, appreciated the Pay-tv service provider for supporting local industry, explaining that ” the media is a monster and the only food it feeds on is content, earlier in the year, I was opportune to present a headies award, there I asked if content is king, how many have we crowned?” He described Okirika as a ‘rich content’.
The cast for Okirika is an interesting mix of established and fast-rising actors as well as contemporary social media entertainers.
According to the producers, the series will feature 70 per cent of new actors in other to launch them into superstardom.
To add some spice to the comedy series, there are comedians like Real Warri Pikin, BrodaShaggi, MC Lively, Zic Aloma, IsBaeU, Debo Macaroni, and Kemi Tawoo-fake.
The production will commence in the second week of October, as the series will begin to air from the second week of December.
According to the producers and crew, Okirika will be shot in an actual market in Lagos to give it the market atmosphere.
They also added that the crew will construct a different setting in the market for the actual shooting of the series, so as not to disturb trade and commercial activities in the market.
Nollywood producer and actress, Toyin Abraham, who is also a cast member for Okirika, expressed her love for the story and its depth.
She also appreciated the fact the story is relatable to many Nigerians as it is rich in grassroots content. She said: “take your time and look at all the movies doing well at the box office, they all have grassroots content”.
Ayo Mogaji, one of the lead cast, also said she is optimistic that the project will transcend generations just like EastEnders, the popular British soap opera which has been broadcast on BBC One since 1985.