With Anikulapo, Afolayan manages to introduce us to a new world of storytelling as the production of this project emits richness and cultural progression in African storytelling.
With solid visual documentation on powerful colonies like Dahomey, The Ghana Empire, Kunle Afoloyan's Anikulapo project, a partnership with Netflix, centers on Oyo, the largest and most powerful of the Yoruba kingdoms. Anikulapo, a riveting historical drama, and a folklore fantasy is the second of three films he is producing and releasing with Netflix. Afolayan is a seasoned pro when it comes to folk-themed stories. His strong repertoire — which includes films like October 1, Figurine, and Irapada — shows how innovative and authentic he is when it comes to telling stories of this nature. However, he takes his creativity to a bigger and bolder level in what is his most ambitious project yet with Anikulapo.
An untimely death occurs when Saro (Kunle Remi), who was seeking greener pasture in the Kingdom of Oyo, becomes involved with Arolake (Bimbo Ademoye), the king's wife. After being reborn by Akala, a mystical bird, Saro sets off with Arolake in hopes of starting a new life together. Insatiable Saro, however, truncates their years of bliss. The plot is ultimately resolved by the character's self-destructive act.
The minute we are introduced to Saro and his world, this epic story creates an adrenaline rush in the audience, yet Anikulapo leaves the audience wanting more with its subpar anti-climax. But regardless of its outcome, Afolayan has introduced us to a new world of storytelling as the production of this project emits richness and cultural progression in African storytelling. Highlighted below are five elements that make Anikulapo worthy of your time:
The creation and organization of the physical world surrounding the story are one of the most significant elements that make Anikulapo endearing to the eye. As far as production value and scale are concerned, the production design and story world produce a 17th-century Oyo with location settings that depict the sheer riches of the famed town. Houses, trades, attire, and palaces, even the size, and scale of these Kingdoms are different from typical Nollywood productions.
The second aspect of this project is the costume design which, through the gift of Toyin Bifarin Ogundeji, illustrates the richness of Yoruba culture and the function clothes play in certain African cultures. The costume design projected the state of hierarchy and the differences between the royal house and the community people.
Thirdly, if there is one thing that Kunle Afolayan has been pretty intentional about in his projects, it is the development of an original soundtrack that compliments his storytelling and helps progress the arc of his stories. Citation, Swallow, and A Naija Christmas are just some of the projects that highlight his attention to a great musical score that accompanies his stories. Anikulapo isn’t any different in that regard. The soundtrack of the film works beautifully with the storyline and elevates every scene to a whole new level.
Fourthly, one unique selling point for this film is the casting. With Kunle Afolayan serving as the casting director for this project, Anikulapo celebrates veteran Yoruba Nollywood actors such as Taiwo Hassan, Yinka Quadri, Yemi Elesho, Adebayo Salami, Faithia Balogun, Ojupagogo and other noteworthy cameos that create a nostalgic feeling to the viewers.
Lastly, Afolayan's collaboration with South African-based cinematographer Jonathan Kovel has proven to be among the most successful collaborations between African filmmakers as both professionals have visualized exciting projects together. Through beautiful aerial shots and close-ups, Jonathan Kovel puts the community right in front of the audience with his work on Anikulapo.
As Nigerian cinema attracts more eyes, both locally and internationally, and as we continue to tell more authentic African stories for the global audience, Anikulapo holds promise for the future of the industry, especially after films like Ayinla, a riveting period piece musical drama, and Ageshinkole, an epic film about war and lawlessness were produced to the delight of cinephiles in the past year.
Anikulapo is currently streaming on Netflix worldwide and also across several cinemas in Nigeria.