Anikulapo is the latest Nigerian language period piece drama film, released on Netflix on 30th September. The film is produced and directed by Kunle Afolayan. It tells a beautiful story through the eyes of culture and tradition, set in the pre-colonial era as far back as the 17th century of the Old Oyo Empire, where it follows a man named Saro.
The cast of the film includes Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Sola Sobowale, Kunle Remi, Bimbo Ademoye, Taiwo Hassan, Faithia Balogun, Adebayo Salami, Kareem Adepoju, Moji Olayiwola and Aisha Lawal. It has a runtime of about 2 hours and 22 minutes in total. The story is said to be inspired by Ifayemi Elebuibon.
Netflix’s description of the film reads:
After an affair with a queen leads to his demise, an eager traveler encounters a mystical bird with the power to give him another life.
-Anikulapo Review Does Not Contain Any Spoilers-
It is a story of a traveler named Saro, who finds his way to Oyo in search of greener pastures where he finds favour and things begin to change for good. Unfortunately, he found love in a forbidden place, longed for the abominable, and eventually got caught in the web of lust. His illicit affair with the king’s wife, Arolake leads to his untimely death and encounter with Akala, a mystical bird believed to give and take life.
The film starts off with a dead man lying in the middle of the forest, as a bird with black mysterious smoke around it, lands and makes the man come to life. He asks him what was his purpose for death and we are taken back to the past when Saro has just arrived at the Oyo village, with no money or place to go.
We also get a back story that in Yoruba land people weren’t buried after their death but left in the enchanted forest. Moving forward, the people in the village are kind to him, they give him food, shelter and even work to make a living. Saro himself is a skilled aso ofi weaver and starts his business of making them.
Right from the start, Saro gets a warning from many that don’t bite more than you can chew, but human greed is very vicious and wouldn’t listen until you are at rock bottom or on your death bed. That’s what lands him in ultimate trouble when he has an affair with the village King’s youngest wife and death finds him in its hand.
But this is not a typical romantic film, which would end here, this is when the almighty Akala bird comes in and resurrects the man. But the real mystery is if the bird really wanted to make him alive or if it was just Saro’s luck that got him out of death’s trap.
Whatever might be the case, everything depends on our actions and even if Saro comes back to life, he has to live with the consequences of his past and future actions.
Summing Up: Anikulapo
Aníkúlápó is a story of death, resurrection and the greedy desires of men. It definitely showcases the beauty of the African culture, especially that of the Yoruba people of South Western Nigeria. The name Anikulapo means one who holds death in his purse and it is ought to bring luck or doom, depending upon what you decide to do in your life.
Aesthetically and culturally it is a beautiful film that introduces the global audience to the Yoruba culture but in terms of storytelling, maybe they could have cut short the film a bit. Also, the creators could have told more about the significance of the mysterious bird and used it more in the film.
Compared to the last few Nigerian releases on Netflix, this film is a much better watch. It is a simple story but will entertain you nonetheless. The actress who played Queen Arolake does a good job in portraying her character, while I found the character of Saro to be just a stupid man with no mind or plans of his own.
Anikulapo is now streaming on Netflix.
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