Star actor, Ibrahim Chatta has remained one of the brightest talents in the Yoruba movie industry to date. And he is still waxing strong. Mention a few top Nollywood actors that are making waves in the industry now, and his name will definitely top the list. He has added a lot to his craft which makes him one of the most sought after actors for many producers, even his colleagues always love to work with him any day, anytime.
Ibrahim Chatta as a brand has become a household name who has carved a niche for himself through his versatility. He sings with ease, writes songs with ease, produces and directs with ease. Any movie he produces is sure to be a blockbuster, why? Because he always takes his time to produce meaningful movies. He always spends lots of money on his productions; just to show the world how things should be done excellently.
Ibrahim Chatta has a film village somewhere in Oyo, Alaafin, which he always uses for his productions. There are lots of domestic animals in that village that he rears; just for his production. He is also a lover and collector of animals. He has horses in numbers, Sheep, Goats, Birds, Cocks, Pigeons and all sorts in his village.
Just in case you are reading about this great thespian of our time for the first time, Ibrahim Chatta is from Kwara State. He was born and bred in a popular town called Bacita. He grew up in a large family of 14 children and his mother comes from Modakeke in Osun State. He started his career at a very tender age, when he fell in love with the travelling theatre popularly called “Alarinjo” then, that triggered his interest in what he is known for worldwide today.
Growing up for Chatta was not a bed of roses. He actually started his acting career, professionally at the tender age of 15 and since then it’s been so wonderful.
He didn’t even know whether there is or there would be money in it, nor to talk of fame or stardom all he wanted was just to entertain people.
All he wanted was to stand in front of people and let them see him as he was seeing late Ray Eyiwunmi and co. then.
Growing up in a polygamous house and amidst different people really prepared him for greatness, and really helped him a lot in achieving success in his chosen career. Not until a few months ago when different news was filtering all around that the mighty Ibrahim Chatta is broke; he’s depressed; some even said on youtube that he wanted to commit suicide, all manner of stories came up, just because of what he wrote on his Instagram page.
City People Head of Tv, SUNDAY ADIGUN hooked up with him at a movie location in Lagos and engaged him for an interview, where he revealed what actually led to his depression then, and he said categorically that he can never think of committing suicide, come what may. Below are the excerpts of the interview.
Let’s talk about the Ibrahim Chatta brand, how has it been so far, keeping the brand?
God has been so kind, as the popular phrase these days “On God”. Everything has been on God, God has been kind to me as a person and our lives as actors is a journey.
So, to have gotten here today, I say Alhamdululai. God has been kind, we have been able to feed ourselves, feed the family. And our fans home and abroad still love us Alhamdululai.
What is the secret of this youthful look, even at 50+, you look so fresh and handsome?
It is the grace of God. I like my simplicity though.
So many people will say “you don’t look your age” and all that. I just thank God.
Is there any particular routine?
I take a lot of fluids in the morning. Sometimes I get bigger depending on how much I sleep. I don’t really sleep much, even before, I thought maybe I have insomnia but I later discovered it’s just my system.
The time I would say I sleep well is for 4 hours and I can’t even remember the last time I slept for 4 hours. The first thing I usually do is to take warm water then, I always put lemon. But I can remember a particular thing that I do differently because I like fatty food. I eat meat with fat, I take lots of sugar. I don’t even have a good eating habit. I eat late at night. Anytime I feel hungry, I get up and eat.
So, I would say it is just the grace of God. I always take anything that I feel like eating.
What is the state of your industry today, as a voice to reckon with?
Truth be told, we are getting better. If you asked me this question 4/5 years ago, I will tell you point-blank that we are not trying, but from 5 years to this time, it has really changed. We are now beginning to see a lot of funding coming into the industry. Lots of technically sound people are getting into the industry, I mean people that really know what they are doing. These days you see people, graduates, getting out of school as professionals coming into the industry. Like 10 years ago we failed our fathers, the veterans, the likes of Hubert Ogunde, Adelove etc because we had so many half baked or non-baked actors.
Many people are just doing it because they want to be famous, some people want to be noticed. The passion for the profession has died. But its been rekindled now. We have younger people coming into the industry, people that know what they are doing and are knowledgeable. For every job you want to do you need the knowledge of that particular trade, to be able to survive and be successful in the game. Like when I was growing up, it was either you go to school or you learn a trade. You just have to learn, either you are doing travelling theatre called “Alarinjo” of my time or you go to school to study the art of filmmaking. But it is changing now, why? Because money is really coming into the industry now. I believe in another 5 years this industry will not be like it used to be before. So, if you ask me today, we are getting better.
Your knowledge about everything in life is superb. Spending 2 mins with you, one must learn something by all means. How did that part of you evolve?
Everything has been God. I did not go to school but I learnt a lot on the streets. Like today I was telling my P.A. about how things have quickly changed. The way the younger people want money these days is alarming. What will make a young person of 17/18 to be thinking about money rituals?
It took me so long to be able to feed myself, not to talk of feeding other people, then I was hoping, I was working hard, praying hard, perfecting my skills, telling myself “Ibrahim everything will be alright” and today I thank God.
And it didn’t just happen for me overnight. Over time, especially in the line of my duty, I have come to learn so much about it. I learnt Quran, I learnt about the Bible and Ifa, just because I wanted to be a good actor. I told myself I don’t want to be stereotyped, I want to be versatile, as a very young person. I discovered 95% of the world knowledge is in the book, either in the Quran, Bible or any other book. I cultivated the habit of reading as a child, though I didn’t go to school but I taught myself a lot of things. I discovered, as an actor or filmmaker you must know a bit of everything because we are representatives of so many things in life. I am a Muslim but I can be called upon to make a film about Christianity, even other religions.
If I am being called upon to act like a Pastor, that means I have to learn about Christianity, if I don’t want to mess up.
You just have to learn a bit of everything as an actor or filmmaker.
Recently there was a misconception of a message or video clips you released online?
It wasn’t a video clip, it was a message I posted on my page on Instagram, it wasn’t a misconception. I was going through a phase in my life, and I was down but not that I was contemplating suicide. Some people’s reactions made it seem like that but the truth is, I am a Muslim, then the scripture of the Muslim, Quran and the Bible forbids anyone from committing suicide. No matter how tough life may be. I love life I cannot commit suicide.
If I die today it is Allah that will kill me because he owns my life. So, I wasn’t thinking but I was depressed, I was unhappy. Later people started talking about the horses that I lost. Like on Saturday now, my son’s birthday was on Friday, he went to school, and my wife said she wants us to celebrate it for him on Saturday with his friends so they invited a few people to our house. I was on set but I made up my mind to honour my family. I was almost getting to my house when the supervisor at my film village called me that we lost a horse. Today, I am being called again that we lost another horse. So, altogether we have lost up to 4 or 5 horses now; that will not kill me. I have more than enough domestic animals. I have horses, I have camels, sheep, rams, birds etc. I even lost a sheep that was pregnant, so, losing a domesticated animal in Islam, shows Allah is saving you. It’s a grace. So, things happen. It wasn’t about that. It was something personal but I am over it now. I have gotten out of that Allihamdulilai.
Your last movie “Olokiki Oru” was a hit, which one are we expecting again?
“Osoronga” is the new one and we are done with editing. It will be showing soon but first I am starting with private screening. Osoronga is a family story; the story is a peep into the world of witches and wizards. We are Africans, there are some things we need to talk about. Sometimes people have problems and they find it difficult to get to the root of their problems, and if you can’t how then do you intend to solve the problem?
So, the story will teach people to know themselves. I like to teach in whatever story I am making into a movie. Insha Allahu people will be learning a whole lot of things. They are not new stories, it’s just the plotting but I believe people are going to enjoy this. It is very, very deep. It is culturally rich. It is an African story but in cosmopolitan settings, and very deep in our culture. If we have problems as Africans we cannot tackle them like the white people or Arabs. Different people have different cultures.
I hope lots of people will like it. “Osoronga” is about witches and wizards, it is about family, it is about trust, it is about betrayal. It is just too loaded.