Cast: Kunle Remi, Bimbo Ademoye, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Sola Sobowale, Taiwo Hassan, Kunle Afolayan, Ifayemi Elebuibon, Fathia Williams Balogun, Ropo Ewenla, Moji Afolayan, Dele Odule, Yinka Quadri, Yetunde Ishola Ogunmola, Kareem Adepoju
Director: Kunle Afolayan
Run Time: 2 hours 22 minutes
Netflix Release Date: September 30, 2022
Anikulapo, which literally means “he who has death in his pouch”, is a period piece set probably in the mid-15th to 16th century in the kingdom of Oyo, at the onset of the slave trade with Portuguese sailing vessels that plied the coast of West Africa. Unlike Kunle Afolayan’s other 2014 period piece, October 1, Anikulapo is not historical but based on an Ifa literary corpus, “Idi Osun”, as narrated by the veteran storyteller and actor, Ifayemi Elebuibon, who also acted in the movie. Anikulapo is a tragedy. A reflection on the insatiable desires of man, betrayal and consequences.
The story is about Saro (Kunle Remi), an aso-oke weaver who travelled to Oyo from Gbongan in search of a better life. His earlier encounter with the older woman, Awarun, (Sola Sobowale) leads to an affair while the latter becomes instrumental in his opening up shop as an aso-oke weaver in Oyo. As life was getting better for Saro, he got into an illicit affair with the childless youngest wife of the Alaafin, Arolake (Bimbo Ademoye), disregarding the warnings of Awarun. On the eve of eloping with the queen, the Alaafin (Taiwo Hassan) got wind of their plot, ordered his arrest and sentenced Saro to death. This is where the story begins to unfold. Saro is dead but brought back to life by the mystical Akala bird. Arolake fought the bird and retrieved its magical gourd which she gave to Saro. Together, they fled to Ojumo, a town ruled by Oba Aderoju (Hakeem Kae Kazeem). Here he became Anikulapo, the raiser of the dead. He prospered with the help of Arolake and the magic gourd. But his story dovetailed to a tragic end from here — as he became very successful, so did he become insatiable and reckless with power.
The roles in the movie fit perfectly except in very few instances. Eyiyemi Afolayan’s film debut should have been in a different role since she could barely speak Yoruba as princess Omowunmi in Anikulapo. Hakeem Kae-Kazim also played a dumb king (Oba Aderoju), who though was facially engaging was quite flat. There could have been some other way to portray a dumb or whispering king — a more vicious expression of anger, a shout or even a lip-synching with a voice double. Besides, Kunle Remi carried the role of Saro very effortlessly, Sola Sobowale, Ropo Ewenla, Adebowale Adebayo, Bimbo Ademoye, Taiwo Hassan and others all owned their respective parts in the movie.
Cinematography and Directing
The photography, colour and treatment of the scenes are reflective of clear storytelling. The production design in Anikulapo was classic. The area view suggests that the entire movie set was built from scratch as the movie was shot in the new KAP Film Village Studios and Resort Igbojaye, Kumo in Oyo State. This is a very important development in Nigerian filmmaking as it marks a departure from the use of built villages.
The tribal marks sit perfectly on every face and the costumes are reasonably varied. The villages comprise young, old, animals and the right props. The movie soundtrack and sound effects are dramatic and not over-flogged. The dialogues are also very clear and well-balanced.
This movie is a brilliant reminder of “Ifa Olokun Asorodayo” drama series that aired on NTA in the 80s and was produced by the same writer of Anikulapo, Ifayemi Elebuibon. It is simply expected that this collaboration with Afolayan will not be the end of this genre as we hope to see many more Odu Ifa stories on the big screen. I rate this 7.5 out of 10.