by Andrew Oke
A mechanic yard is filled with so many characters from different walks of life, living in one of the harshest cities in the world and in Mokalik, it truly comes alive as absolutely nothing of note happens there. And as we all know, nothing is more entertaining than nothing. We hop from one pointless, random occurrence to the next with the dizzying speed of a sloth as Kunle Afolayan crafts the masterclass in the art of nothing. He invites you to buckle in and go on this ride with him into a world occupied with no story, no subtext, no characters, and no point. It is truly wonderful.
Mokalik follows a day in the life of a young boy, Ponmile who is forced by his father (Femi Adebayo) to spend the day working as an apprentice and occasional Simi stalker at a mechanic yard, because of bad grades. Through the day, he learns the different parts of a car, how to change a tire and how to spot airplanes from the ground along with a combined total of approximately zero life lessons, which is truly impressive as the meaningless of Ponmile’s apprenticeship mirrors the meaningless of the film Mokalik. One can almost call it meta. Tooni Afolayan, who plays Ponmile, reminds me of the glorious and enchanting sequoia tree in that they are both stiff and without personality or acting talent. Watching his acting, was incredibly entertaining – just about as entertaining as watching a train wreck. I couldn’t look away. Even when his throat was stroked in the most uncomfortable manner by an older man.
Many films are accused of forcing the audience to turn their brains off to enjoy them. Mokalik turns your brain off for you, as in yet another stroke of genius, Kunle Afolayan turns the film into a vehicle for social justice, tackling and offering a remedy to an issue plaguing many Lagosians today – Insomnia. For all those who have a hard time sleeping, Mokalik is just what the doctor ordered – dull, meaningless, sleep-inducing drivel.
Mokalik is doesn’t just offer sharp social commentary, it also very casually mocks the mentally disabled as only a master like Kunle Afolayan could. Also, for anyone who has ever been interested in becoming a mechanic or knowing what a mechanic does or has no idea what a car is, never has there been a film that would appeal to them the way Mokalik should. A four-minute lecture on changing a tire, learning how the bushing of a car works and learning that the size 12 spanner is the most used spanner by mechanics.
Actually, the size 12 spanner is so important that it has its own subplot in the film where one character Kamoru (Hamzat Sherifdeen) steals the size 12 spanner of another character Erukutu (Samuel Olasehinde). Throughout the film, the size 12 spanner (which will be referred to as “Kunle’s Spanner” from now on) is brought up constantly and it all reaches a head when Erukutu and Kamoru fight over the spanner which leads to them getting an extra six months added to their apprenticeship. Did the inclusion of “Kunle’s Spanner” serve any purpose in the film? Not really. Was the endgame of “Kunle’s Spanner” satisfying or anything other than pointless? No. However, maybe that is its purpose. Maybe “Kunle’s Spanner” represents a pointless detail in any film that springs up over and over again for no reason other than to remind the audience that it exists. Truly amazing.
Do you know what I wish there was more of in movies? Advertisements. Lots and lots of advertisements. That’s why I love Mokalik so much. It is chuck full with shameless advertisements and product placements and if there’s anything that I love, it is a lack of shame and the beauty of capitalism. I’m sure Ayn Rand is looking up (from the seventh circle of hell) and smiling at the master of Nigerian filmmaking, Kunle Afolayan right now.
Films like Mokalik are like an eclipse. They are unique, they come only once in a while and looking directly at them is very bad for you. But if it’s good enough for Donald Trump, I say it’s good enough for me.
Story – Kunle Afolayan
Screenplay – Tunde Babalola
Tooni Afolayan – Ponmile Ogidan
Femi Adebayo – Mr. Ogidan
Ayo Ogunshina – Chairman
Hamzat Sherifdeen – Kamoru
Simi Ogunleye – Simi
Lateef Adedimeji – Tiri
Dayo Akinpelu – Ajentina
Samuel Olasehinde – Erukutu
Damilola Ogunsi – Obama