By Ireti Bakare-Yusuf
Kunle Afoloyan’s second deliverable of his Netflix tgree-film deal, premiered in Lagos on Friday September 30 and Afoloyan didn’t disappoint, he earned every $ with a few ₦airas on top.
In 17th century Yoruba land, there was also “Japa”!
These travels, sojourns done by foot (emigrations), were sometimes accidental – necessitated by the dice of life, or intentional, an escape or fortune seeking (not dissimilar to today’s young and thirsty Nigerians).
One day, a stranger arrives in Oyo Ile, and he is welcomed with open arms, kindness and more love that he’s known.
As a child of the valley, adulthood began for Saro (Kunle Remi) from the tender age of 6. Making it to Oyo, a land of wealth, trade and opportunities was his desire and determination. He would hustle and make it like others had.
Fortune favored him, perhaps a little too early or a little too much. They say “We know not the full character of man, until wealth is bestowed on him”.
Wealth found Saro pretty quickly in the shape of Awarun (Sola Sobowale), the rich- cougher-sugar-mummy who rewards Saro’s night time duties with a job and subsequently, his own business.
Afolayan’s enchantments is with the classical- traditional – Yoruba- travelling – theatre – trained Sobowale (don’t even think KOB and most definitely can’t be confused with Laburu).
It was refreshing and NICE. I missed that Sola.
Equally, for Sobowale, this must have been an homecoming. A return to her genesis as a thespian, before English Nollywood discovered her talents where she honed her skills and earned those fans, like yours truly, who love and cherish her till this day.
Now, if all it took for Adam to be swayed from his “Oniduro “ was just an ordinary apple, we know it doesn’t take much to entangle his sons, especially when temptation is in the form of a beautiful, sexy young queen.
Olori Arolake (Bimbo Ademoye) had been yearning, desperate for an escape from a life sentence of boredom, toxicity (from the co- wives) and mundane sex with an “old man”, albeit one who not only adores her most (out of his four wives), but is also king of the great – Oyo!
Sometimes, a girl just needs MORE!
So when she locked eyes with Saro – the asọ oke weaver – on their first meeting at the palace, all that had died in her, including youthful exuberance and carefree foolishness, could no longer be contained. Their sex was intense and caution forgotten.
The much-criticized nude scene in a traditional Yoruba film grants Afolayan additional applause.
Carefully choreographed with soft lighting and synchronized movements, it was easy for us – the viewers – to become part of their entanglement and their secret keeper. As a romantic, I was their readymade cheerleader. But Saro is a man, the good-looking, red- blooded, ‘oloriburuku’ type.
THAT “Yoruba – demon”. An alakori, whose ambition for success is at par with his prurience for women and a loyalty to the desires of his phallus.
So once fortuned with wealth, fame and prestige, it didn’t take long for him to become the arbiter of his downfall. Pride, they say, comes before a
Saro forgot that “She, who gives, can also take away”. He also disconnected from all the warnings. Where “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, fame is the aphrodisiac that can delude completely, fooling a mere mortal into thinking he’s indestructible, especially when that mortal can raise the dead!
Anikulapo is a threading of love, lust, greed and betrayal. Packed with a rolodex of veteran Yoruba actors, most of whom had been in the industry before Afoloyan was born, who were also his later father’s contemporaries, and had who had worked with the then popular “Ade Love”.
Look out for graduate of Theatre Arts, popular social media skit-maker/comedian Mr. Macaroni aka Adebowale Adedayo – as the male gossip monger of Oyo Ile.
Afoloyan’s first epic is most enjoyable. This film is textured and authentic in ethnic nuances. The director faithfully told the story (inspired by a conversation with the living legend of Yoruba poetry and author, Ifayemi Elebuibon, where the elder creative, while telling Afolayan about some of the Odu in Ifa, also “recited the particular Odu in Ifa” ), and managed to shy away from the fuss, traps and sometimes cluttered fashion of Nollywood. The attention to detail, the stunning set, the palatable colours, and the sheer scale of sterling quality production is all evident that Afolayan, in his multiple role as Director/ EP/ Casting director/ Production designer et al, enjoyed bringing this particular project to life – including his now ubiquitous Alfred Hitchcock-esque appearance, which we’ve come to expect in his films.
While Anikulapo is a celebratory departure from the KAP Film library, Afolayan broadened his talent and capacity, making it clear, that he’s no ordinary talent, he is THAT talent!
In an interview; he said the set was built in his mother’s hometown in today’s Oyo State. Perhaps it’s this homage to his motherland that motivated him to center the power of his 17th century Oyo Ile on the women – a faction many are ignorant of. Each female characters in this film is a woman in us. From the rich, middle-aged, sugar -mummy divorcee, to the young nubile queen, forced to marry at the cusp of her teen, and the spoilt princess – faultlessly played by Afolayan’s pretty daughter, Eyiyemi, we know them, and although we may not always like them, we definitely empathise with them. The vocal and powerful King of Oyo Ile could be tricked by a young woman, while the prolongation of the voiceless Oba Aderoju of Ilu Ojumo’s – played by Hakeem Kae -Kazim –legacy could only be preserved if he agreed to sacrifice his much-beloved and only daughter.
Everything event in Anikulapo revolved and depended on the women, making the film an ode to Yoruba-female power, and all the arekereke(s) (shenanigans) of their feminity.
After two hours, one began to wonder what more could be contained in the remaining 22 minutes? Could it have been shorter? Yes.
However, Afolayan ensured those extra minutes were put to good use.
An engaging, romantic tale of young love, against the canvas of mysticism and folklore and the power of SHE!
7 / 10 makes Anikulapo a date most WORTHY of your Netflix dollars.
- Bakare-Yusuf is a Lagos-based Broadcast Journalist, Theatre Producer and “sometime” a Film Critic.
Source: The Culture Newspaper