Divorce can often be painful – the division of assets,and messy if kids are involved and assets need to be divided, but Ghanaian director Shirley Frimpong-Manso shows us there’s also a funny side to it with her latest movie.
Potato Potahto, which premiered at the Durban International Film Festival this past weekend, tells the story of a divorced couple, Tony and Lulu, who share their matrimonial house. After their divorce their new arrangement sets off a series of love-hate situations, jealousy, competition and awkwardness as other family members get drawn in and start picking sides.
The movie stars one of the biggest stars on the continent, award-winning Ghanaian actress Joselyn Dumas and award-winning Nigerian actor OC Ukeje.
Speaking to Independent Media from her hotel in Durban, Dumas shed some light on this feel-good comedy. “I play Lulu, she is a lovely, young, modern African lady. She is married to Tony but after some time, they realise their marriage is not working out. So they get a divorce but neither of them want to to leave their house. A judge rules that they can split the house and stay in it together,” she said.
Set in Ghana, Dumas was attracted to the script as soon as she saw it and just knew she has to be a part of it.
“The script was such an easy read and I love that. I also saw some of me in Lulu so I could relate to her, on certain levels but at the same time I wanted to play her because she is also different from me.
“I think that a lot of us have alter egos and I think Lulu is mine. Although I am much more tolerant than she is, Lulu is very hard-headed, she always has to have the last word in an argument. Everyone has a Lulu in their life.”
The starlet said she wanted to know Lulu’s backstory – why she was the way she was – so she sat down with the movie’s director and delved into Lulu.
“Every good actor has to prepare, and I like to do so by finding out as much as I can about the character. Everyone has a backstory and a backstory helps you understand people better.”
Dumas is also co-executive producer on the movie, something she didn’t find a challenge. “I’m a producer. I’ve produced shows in Ghana and in other parts of the continent, so I really wanted to do that with Potato Potahto. It really wasn’t difficult."
“In Ghana, making television shows and movies is expensive, we don’t have the government’s support like South Africa does. Although we managed to get funding for this movie, I and others on the set had to put our own money into it as well. So I think that aspect was challenging for us all.”
She also said that a highlight of working on the movie was the fashion. “I love that we are showing a different side to Africa; we have beautiful houses and cars and we are stylish. The fashion was great. We had Ghanaian designers dress me, which was fabulous and that also helped show Lulu as a modern African lady.”
Dumas said people would enjoy the movie because of its comedic factor and relatability to the characters.
“Yes, it’s a commercial movie, but it’s a feel-good one and people need that. There are characters in this movie that absolutely everyone will be able to relate to and its production quality is out of this world.”