Many have raised questions about the suitability of Kenyan comedy that has thrived on slander, ethnic demagoguery and sheer profanity, but there is hope in the comedy genre when one watches Bob Nyanaja’s The Captain of Naigara.
Based on deceit, romance and sleaze, the story of Muntu (Benard Safari) is told in easy slapstick rendition that leaves the audience in stitches most of the time.
The film is now showing at Alliance Française in the ongoing 23rd edition of the European Film Festival at Alliance Francaise and will also be screened in Baba Dogo Tuesday next week.
Muntu, a small time criminal has to feign riches lest he loses his lover Muna ably performed by Shirleen Wangari.
So, he lies to her that he owns a profitable groceries shop, just to keep the embers of a proposed wedding burning.
But with a change of heart Muntu wants to live an honest life, earning form the sweat of his brow, and make attempts to secure a national ID and a certificate of good conduct but meets obstacles in the chief registrar’s office when a bribe is defended of him.
“You must buy tea before you have your papers processed,” he is told in no uncertain terms by the registrar.
A disappointed man he lands in jail for his troubles but with uncanny wit he finds himself out of prison dressed in full military commander uniform.
He uses this before unsuspecting civil servants to get his way including the identity document and a certificate of good conduct after assuming the command of an equally unsuspecting military brigade.
“I am enthralled by how a story laden with poignant social issues can be so benign leaving us to laugh at grave matters,” observed Dr Fred Mbogo, a literature don at Moi University after watching the flick.
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Director Bob Nyanja has proven that he is one of the very best that Kenya has and his knack for details and captivating cinematography is something that can stand on any world theatre including Hollywood.
“We were able to work with our own resources almost entirely to have this story come up and we are happy about the response so far,” said Nyanja whose other production include, The Rugged Priest as well as Malooned.
Director Bob Nyanja has proven that he is one of the very best that Kenya that Kenya has and his knack for details and captivating cinematography is something that can stand on any world theatre including Hollywood.
“We were able to work with Kenyan human resources almost entirely to have this story come up and we are happy about the response so far,” said Nyanja whose other production include, The Rugged Priest as well as Malloned.
But it’s major shift from tragic stories full of knives and guns with respect to Cajetan Boy of Et Cetera Production whose works such as Oboha I have found very taxing to watch due to their high octane violence and bloodletting.
“I found this a refreshing experience and I would want to write comedy any day,” said Cajetan during a post screen discussion session at the Alliance Française Gardens Wednesday night.
During the session attended by over 300 people, Mwaniki Mageria of the Kenya Film Commission shared that the Film that was actually released in 2011 has not been in circulation because of the rampant piracy in Kenya.
“When this film premiered in Nairobi some time ago, the producers had the copy with them and immediately after the screening took it away for fear of unscrupulous pirates raking in money that they have not worked for,” revealed Mageria.
Which is a sad turn of events because the Captain of Nakara is such a break from tragedy that has dominated Kenyan films for long.
It is such a family entertainment devoid of nudity and violence ant told in the most humorous of style keeping the audience ticked to the end.
Elements of storytelling through Joel Otukho at the being and at the end spices the film as an authentic African form and truly Kenyan.
The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin star, Joseph Olita, is such a delight as he plays Muntu’s father-law- to be as he proclaims the virtues of bride price in an African traditional marriage.
He is also a local African Independent Church leader tailored along Legio Mari, Akorino or dini ya Musambwa, if You like, and his character depicts an equally money-mined clergy that is many a church today.
Funded to a tune of Euro 300,000 by the ACP-EU fund the film is produced by a German who thought the original German story could be told in a Kenyan and Africa style.
It has a cast of nearly 120 and a crew of 40 and shot in Ziwani, Kololeni and Ngara Estates of Nairobi as well as Kona Baridi in Kajiado.
“I was an experience like no other and I laugh every time I watch it,” said Charles Bukeko who plays the role of a corrupt military dictator in the movie.