Movie Review: Tony Abulu’s “Doctor Bello” – Placing Nollywood On The World Map

Nollywood is the world’s third-largest filmmaking industry in revenues, producing more than 1,000 titles every year. But the industry is
known for churning out slapdash films with feeble story lines, amateurish acting and sloppy production values. Notwithstanding the obvious, Tony Abulu emerges to give pride to the industry, Nigeria and indeed Africa with the spectacular production – Doctor Bello.

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With Tony, being a beneficiary of the $200 million loan fund to help finance film projects by Goodluck Jonathan, receiving a sum of $250,000, he set his sights high by the industry’s standards hoping to steer the production away from the trash-it-can route most Nollywood films end up after few months.

Doctor Bello is set in Lagos and New York with A-list cast of Nollywood stars which include Genevieve Nnaji and Stephanie Okereke. Without leaving no stone unturn on his vision of attracting an international mainstream audience, he brought in several Hollywood actors, including Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill and Independence Day, among many others), and Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes).

Just like in his movie Back to Africa, Tony Abulu introduces adventure into a film that would have otherwise been perceived as “drama.” The story is based on the ordeals of an uncertified Nigerian doctor, Dr. Bello (Mr. Jean-Louis) and an African-American cancer specialist in New York, Dr. Michael Durant (Isaiah Washington). Michael Durant tries to save a young patient by seeking the help of Dr. Bello — an immigrant living in Brooklyn. Bello slips the patient a secret African potion, helping him recover. But Durant’s solution is discovered, and he is suspended by his hospital while Bello is imprisoned for medical malpractice.

Soon, however, Bello himself falls critically ill, and it falls to Durant to save him by locating the secret elixir, which is found only in the “Garden of Life” on a mountain range in Nigeria.
Although the filming of the movie had a humble appearance to the point that Abulu shot around customers at Buka, a Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn and also exhausted the funds with which he initiated the project, he has been able to deliver a production that transcends entertainment or movie. The intertwining of cultures and the well intended depiction of Africa and Nigeria as seen in the story will go a long way to improve the perception of the world as far as the country and the continent is concerned. Moreover, delivering a world class production for Nollywood is a trail blazer for future Nollywood production.

“I don’t look at it as entertainment; I look at it as a means of survival for Africans.” – Tony Abulu (New York Times, New York).

Doctor Bello, which premiered in the United State at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Washington DC, will also be enjoyed by anticipating audience when it premieres in Nigeria on Sunday, the 25th of November 2012 at the Genesis Deluxe Cinema, The Palms, Victoria Island, Lagos as sponsored by MTN Nigeria. Guests expected at the Premiere in Lagos include Genevieve Nnaji, Isaiah Washington, Vivica A. Fox, Stephanie Okereke-Linus, Victor Browne and a host of others. The U.K premiere is slated for the 30th of November 2012.

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