Why Majek Fashek’s Biopic Was Never Shot

Majek Fashek is dead

Back in 2010, it was reported that a biopic of the late Nigerian music legend, Majek Fashek, was in the works.

A biopic is a film that dramatises the life of a non-fictional or historically-based person or a famous person.

Such films show the life of and times of the person while the central character’s real name is used.

Charles Novia, a notable Nigerian filmmaker, who managed Majek’s career between 2005 to 2010, was billed to produce the film.

Sadly, the project never came to fruition in Majek’s lifetime.

The 57-year-old singer, who toured the world with the sound of African reggae with hits such as the ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ and ‘Send Down the Rain’, died on Tuesday in NewYork leaving behind unfulfilled projects.

But Mr Novia, who is also a member of the Nigerian Oscar Selection Committee, has said he would ensure the singer’s biopic becomes a reality.

Mr Novia, who is known for films such as ‘Missing Angel’, ‘Caught in The Middle’ and ‘Alan Poza’, also hinted that he would film and release the biopic as a legacy or a documentary in honour of the late musician and his estate.

Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, Mr Novia, whose November Records released Majek’s 2005 album ‘Little Patience’ in Nigeria, explained that Majek’s biopic was stalled back then because he (Majek) didn’t really want the biopic shot.

“He said I should shoot it after he is gone. It was maybe a prophetic statement. He was a bit apprehensive about it, even though he had given us the rights when I was managing him in 2005-2010. He had given us permission to do that in the presence of a few witnesses, which he signed but he got jittery. Out of respect for him, I had to hold back”.

Mr Novia also said the second reason why the shoot was stalled was because of funds.

“I couldn’t raise the kind of fund to shoot it on celluloid back then,” he revealed.

“We would have travelled to America and we had a budget of about two million dollars back then. I had raised about half a million dollars at that time so we decided to shelve it.

“Now that he is dead and technology has given us a better way of shooting, I will have to shoot the film as my own contribution to his legacy because he was a legend. In spite of everything, he was a legend”.

“I will be working on it from next year when the whole pandemic thing is gone. I don’t know when it will be released but the project will begin next year. I will probably be sitting with his family more to expand the story and to get the right impact of his life on the music community as a whole.

At the time, it was also revealed that actor, Francis Duru, was billed to play Majek in the movie.

The actor was already taking on music lessons, which included how to play the guitar to fit into the character of the music legend.

Asked if Duru would still play the role, Novia said, “We will be casting a new set of actors for the film. At the time we cast Francis Duru, he was younger. We have newer and younger actors that will be shortlisted for the role of Majek, after screen tests”.

Biopics in Nigeria

Nigeria has very few biopic movies.

In 2016, “Ghetto Dreamz: The Dagrin Story,” a biopic based on the true-life story of the late Nigerian rap artiste, Dagrin who passed away on April 22, 2010, in a ghastly accident, was released.

Before “Ghetto Dreamz,” the Nigerian film industry was yet to produce a biopic chronicling the life and times of any Nigerian musician.

The film, which reportedly cost N20m was funded by Stingomania, an entertainment company owned by Ope Banwo.

It was a commercial success.

The yet-to-be-released biopic of a Nigerian former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida’s biopic film ‘Badamosi: Portrait of a General’, is about Nigeria’s most prominent biopic film.

When and if it is eventually released, Majek’s biopic would be a worthy legacy for the Nigerian music legend.