By Bernard Dayo
In the third installment of the Toyin Abraham-produced Alakada series, Alakada Reloaded suffers a kind of anaemia. Its most shimmering scenes are the ones injected with enough lowbrow humour to keep the movie afloat. Yetunde Animashaun (Toyin Abraham) returns with her inferiority complex that propels her to be a compulsive, unrepentant liar, with the desire to inhabit the opulent spaces she fabricates with her mind. The opening scene sees a sleeping Yetunde, who sells fufu outside her home for sustenance, being rudely awakened by a friend. The area is rough and dusty, lending a pathos to Yetunde’s circumstance.
Luckily, she auditions to be a housemate on a Big Brother-type reality TV show and gets a spot. Gidi reality TV show is what it’s called, and it is where the star-studded cast are shown for the first time. The house looks urban but not lavishly cloying, each housemate having separate rooms and hence privacy. But the running of the competition lacks a visible, structured direction or framework. We are not introduced to the rules of the house, nor the process of eviction or voting. The reality show feels, from an audience perspective, like a clumsy afterthought slapdashed into the plot to make it meatier.
Perhaps the most interesting of the contestants is Loretta (Lilian Esoro), who arrives the compound of the house with a small pet dog held by a leash in one hand and a suitcase in another. She is sophisticated with a glossiness that drips from her pores, hair and makeup shiny and lustrous, so much so that she draws the collective attention of the other star-studded male contestants. And when she indicates to them that she is overburdened and needs help, they all jostle to reach her in a rush.
Yetunde soon befriends Kehinde Bankole’s character in the house, who speaks crisp, modern English, and Yewande, no matter where they meet, always monotonously says to her, “I used to speak like you” with a fleeting, tongue-in-cheek dismissiveness. Annie Idibia, a contestant as well, is as invisible and dispensable to the plot that she might as well not have been casted. Almost the same as Odunlade Adekola, who gets introduced as himself with a brazen pomposity that reminds one of the way Nigerians do when they have amassed wealth and fame and begin to show off.
Gabriel Afolayan, who stoically commits to playing a cross-eyed character comes off as endearing and sweetly pitiable. Nedu, only once, bristles with a frothy humour as he ropes Yetunde into a singing competition she tries to wriggle out of as she encounters a match superior to her. Bidemi Kosoko’s role, like Annie Idibia’s, is just like a fly on the wall. The only time she is engaging is during breakfast in the house, where she is the first to devour her food during prayers and then complains that the food is tasteless.
Even the characters of Helen Paul and Liz Dasilva are afflicted with the same ordinariness and depthlessness. Any group of people could have played the star-studded cast and do it well but, nevertheless, Alakada Reloaded soars with the way it addresses domestic violence, even though draped with humour. The movie shines with a social consciousness as it brings up health issues like breast cancer to the fore and correcting the misconception that cancer is a woman-only disease. In the end, Alakada Reloaded twists itself with a creative texture that should have pervaded the whole movie, and that’s probably what Toyin Abraham should have taken into consideration from the start.
Watch the trailer below: