For the longest time, television series have been the go-to for filmmakers looking to tell a more convoluted and immersive story. Diiche is the most recent addition to that list.
With multi episodic formats that can either be released weekly or bundled together for a bingeable experience, TV series affords two vital advantages over movies. First is the ability to tell longer stories, to pack in more content than would have been possible with films and their 2-3 hour runtimes. Second, filmmakers are given the ability to break up stories into bite-size chunks so that each episode can have its own beginning, build-up crescendo, climax and then even end with a cliffhanger — an added reason to look forward to the next. The latter is essential for thriller series that use excellent storytelling and pacing to bring highly captivating stories to life.
As streaming giants like Showmax and Netflix have entered the Nollywood sphere, Nigerian film producers now have this opportunity available, and they’re taking full advantage. Sure, the option of satellite TV channels has always been available for series, but its attachment limits it to satellite television — anyone who wanted to follow a series on it would have to shell out for the entire package, including dish and decoder, and then hope that the unreliable electricity in Nigeria would be available each time an episode is being aired.
A tough ask. And so these channels are left with lighter material, where it could be possible to miss an episode or two and still not lose much of the overall story. Streaming platforms best handle engaging stories, so we’re seeing more of them these days.
Take the critically acclaimed King of Boys franchise. Initially released as a single, stand-alone movie for Netflix in 2018 to widespread acclaim, the story of Eniola Salami, the ruthless politician, proved irresistible to Nigeria’s film audience. It wasn’t long before Kemi Adetiba knew Sola Sobowale’s character would need a return. For the sequel, however, Adetiba wanted to flesh out this character properly and track her governorship run more intimately. And so she decided on the series format, with a 7 part season greenlit in which Eniola Salami, after the death of children, returns to Lagos with an eye for the state’s premier position.
To do this, she must defeat old enemies, new political adversaries and even her past and prove to everyone, especially herself, that she is a reformed woman who can be entrusted the rulership of the state. The switch to a series has been backed by the show’s warm reception after its August 2021 release.
Nine months later, it was the turn of Blood Sisters, a crime drama that followed Sarah and Kemi on the run from the police with a murder charge hanging over their heads. This series was shorter and relied more on thrilling scenes and blood-pumping action than the intricate build-up of The Return Of The King.
The series, which enlisted Biyi Bandele and Kenneth Gyang as directors for two episodes each, was executive produced by Mo Abudu and her Ebonylife studios. The show’s reception has been nothing short of sensational, with positive reviews from national as well as international critics. Once more, the capacity of serial releases allows room to properly craft and execute a storyline.
And it is in this same vein that Showmax has thought up Diiche, a crime thriller set to be the next big series from Nollywood. The 6 part drama, which premiered on Thursday, September 29, 2022, saw Efe Iwara and Daniel K. Daniel take major roles while Uzoamaka Onuaha star as the eponymous Diiche, with Tolu Ajayi, Ifeoma Chukwuogo, Fiyin Gambo and James Omokwe at the directorial helm. The show will track Diiche, a movie star and unavailable diva who has her life turned upside down when she emerges prime suspect in her fiancé’s murder.
Dr Busola Tejumola, Executive Head, Content and West Africa Channels, MultiChoice Nigeria, was excited about the opportunity to showcase an original thriller series.
“We were very intentional about telling stories Nigerians will love and identify with. The story of Diiche is one of fate, culture, beliefs and the battle between good and evil. We believe the story and our stellar production values will draw audiences in”, Tejumola said.
The series will see Diiche try to prove her innocence while evading capture, even as it is revealed there are more twists to the story, with a backstory beginning 30 years ago. With a plotline as convoluted and engaging as this, it is no wonder the producers opted for an episodic format, as it is indeed a tale that needs to be adequately fleshed out.
James Omokwe, a director of the series, alluded to this emphasis on storytelling. “It has a beautiful story,” he said, in response to a question on what makes Diiche special. Frank Konwea, who plays Inspector Kazeem on the show, buttresses this. “It is a psychological thriller, a crime thriller and a supernatural thriller all wrapped into one,” he said, and it builds excitement for a show that will be the first of its kind when it launches.
As more creatives embrace series to display thrilling and convoluted drama stories, spurred by the presence of more streaming platforms in the Nigerian film market, it is hoped that we will continue to enjoy more top-quality content like the ones above. As time goes on, we can expect our filmmakers to tune up their storytelling craft and produce engaging stories that will pull us closer with each episode.
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