Featured, Movies

Have You Seen Aníkúlápó ?

Nmesoma Okwudili


March 23, 2024

With a stellar ensemble that included Kunle Remi, Bimbo Ademoye, Sola Sobowale, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, and Taiwo Hassan, Aníkúlápó, a 2022 Nigerian epic fantasy film directed by Kunle Afolayan and broadcast globally by Netflix, made its premiere on September 30, 2022. Positioned against the backdrop of Oyo State, Afolayan’s idea of the film is a rich tapestry of Yoruba culture, comparing it to a Nigerian version of “Game of Thrones” while paying attention to our native customs.

Fundamentally, Aníkúlápó explores the story of Saro (Kunle Remi), an outsider in Oyo who is well-known for his proficiency in traditional textile weaving on the ‘aso-ofi’ loom. In the complex web of royal politics and social mores, Saro becomes involved in a forbidden romance with Queen Arolake (played by Bimbo Ademoye). Burdened by the complexity of her position as queen, Arolake struggles with an unhappy marriage and the scorn of the king’s other wives in society. Nevertheless, despite the strict constraints of duty and tradition, her covert relationship with Saro provides comfort and pleasure.

She, a young woman, finds herself disinterested in the relentless advances of the elder king, whose unwavering favoritism only serves to stoke the fires of jealousy among his seasoned queens, who, in turn, subject her to mistreatment and scorn. In the midst of this tumultuous courtly environment, a secret relationship blossoms between her and Saro, as they surrender to the depths of forbidden love. However, their aspirations of escape was shattered when whispers of their liaison reach the ears of the king, resulting in a harsh decree condemning Saro to face the ultimate penalty: death.

Saro’s voyage takes a bizarre turn when Arolake, with her cunning and resourcefulness, acquires a method to bring him back from the verge of oblivion—a magical gourd stolen from the realm of the gods. Saro takes influence from the fabled Akala bird, which symbolises resurrection. As a result, Saro is reincarnated and given the incredible capacity to control death itself. This allows him to be called “Anikulapo” or “Aníkúlápó,” which denotes his dominion over death.

As the couple find solace in the peaceful town of Ojumo, Saro’s rising popularity and power set him on a perilous path of conceit and adultery. He betrays the very source of his resuscitation when he gives in to the seduction of other women, causing his once-unwavering love for Arolake to wane. Engulfed by conceit, Saro starts to make bold demands of the people, certain that he can always avoid death. His lofty goals are quickly dashed, though, when Arolake finds out that he intends to use the prince’s life as a negotiating chip.

Arolake cuts the cord that connects Saro to the world of the living, subverting the core of Saro’s power in a moving act of resistance. Deserted and devoid of his once-potent abilities, Saro must confront the sobering truth that he is no longer the master of death but rather a mortal man constrained by his own mortality. His tragic downfall serves as a cautionary tale about unbridled ego and the erratic nature of power.

The Netflix and Kunle Afolayan joint project Anikulapo is a prime example of a cutting-edge cinematic project that not only pushes artistic limits but also emphasises the value of family tradition in the film industry. Directed by Jonathan Kovel, the movie was shot inside the newly opened KAP resort, which is located in a small Oyo State hamlet. The epic story of Anikulapo unfolded on this sprawling 40-acre set, which was painstakingly constructed, with each building and piece of infrastructure being carefully created from the ground up to mix in with the rich tapestry of the story.

One prominent member of the ensemble cast was none other than Eyiyemi Afolayan, the daughter of well-known director Kunle Afolayan. This family’s partnership, which BusinessDay praised as evidence of the Afolayan dynasty’s continuing influence in the film business, is a moving reminder of their generations-long heritage.

Anikulapo established itself as a prominent contender in Nigerian cinema, captivating audiences with its gripping narrative and deep moral implications. The movie achieved significant commercial success during its first week of release, grossing N9,387,000 in total, with a remarkable 7-day revenue average of N184,059. Additionally, the film’s cinematic prowess was evident as it made an incredible N5,197,900 in theatres nationwide in just one weekend.

Anikulapo heralds a new era of cinematic brilliance anchored in tradition and innovation alike, and stands as a monument to the limitless potential of Nigerian cinema on the global stage with its unmatched blend of fascinating storytelling, familial collaboration, and financial success.

Presently, fans throughout the world are engrossed in the story that is developing in “Anikulapo: The Rise Of The Spectre,” the much anticipated second season of the engrossing drama series that is only accessible on Netflix. The Anikulapo has garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews in a short amount of time, further solidifying its status as a cultural phenomenon while also captivating spectators.


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