Ugandan actors, Michael Wawuyo and Sam Bagenda, have turned into overnight stars in India following their magnificent performance in the upcoming Indian-Ugandan film, Escape from Uganda, we can reveal.
The feature film, entirely shot on location in Uganda and featuring a mix of both Ugandan and Indian actors, is slated for release later this month. And as part of a build up campaign towards the premiere, its official trailer and soundtracks were a few days ago launched at a red-carpet event in the western India state of Kerala.
There, sources privy to the film have told us, the two veteran actors mesmerized audiences with their breathtaking performance in the $1m (about Shs2.6bn) production budget film tipped to flagship a fruitful partnership between Bollywood and Ugawood.
“Generally, they (audiences) were impressed by the performance of the entire Ugandan cast. But it was clearly Michael and Sam who attracted a lot of attention. Indians could not believe that Uganda has such great talents,” said our source.
The Kerala function was attended by the film’s Indian cast and crew, and attracted some of the biggest names in Indian cinema. A similar function was earlier held at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala to celebrate completion of the film’s three-month-long shooting on various locations across the country.
But unlike the Kampala fete where a rough-cut trailer and a few stills were unveiled to the public, the Kerala event featured the release of the film’s final trailer, showreels and two soundtracks, complete with inspiring music videos.
Composed by Indian music maestros Varun Unni and Gopi Sunda, with a blend of Indian melody and African rhythms, the soundtracks and their videos were particularly lauded for their great visuals and creativity. They were choreographed in Uganda and feature Ugandan dancers.
But it’s the two-minute teaser, now available on YouTube, which stole the show. In typical Hollywood-style graphics, actors can be scene pulling daredevil stunts including dodging bullets, jumping off a speeding boat and beating the crap out of each other.
It also features what is said to be the film’s main twist in which Wawuyo, who plays a detective investigating a high profile murder, doubts he is tracking the right criminal.
“No motive, no f****** witnesses, absolutely no criminal background, but yet we say she committed the crime,” the seemingly frustrated 55-year-old Ugandan actor laments.
On the other hand, Bagenda of theatre outfits Ebonies, plays a city mayor whose daughter is mysteriously murdered. He delivers this chilling line in the trailer, after cornering his daughter’s suspected murderer: “Now, listen here you fool. Your f****** trial is gonna take place!”
Directed by fast-rising Indian-Ugandan director Rajesh Nair, Escape from Uganda is the first project by River Nile Motion Pictures (RNMP), an Indian-Ugandan movie production firm, and is based on a real life story of an Indian family caught up in a high profile murder in Kampala.
Award-winning Indian actress and former beauty queen Rima Kallingal plays the lead (Shika) while her compatriot, Parthieban, plays her loving husband and father of their infant daughter. Other Ugandan actors in the film include 2013 Miss Uganda runner-up Anita Kyarimpa and her pageant boss Brenda Nanyonjo. Carlos Ombonya of Katemba Mu Kooti and police officer Wilberforce Mutete also make an appearance.
The film’s November 22 Indian premiere will be followed by an extensive cinema tour across Asia, before finally coming to Uganda early next year. And with our stars already commanding a fanbase in India, it’s highly likely they will grace the grand premiere.
And maybe they will land permanent work there, although Wawuyo rules out any possibility of ever ditching troubled Ugawood for big-budget Bollywood.