“Battle on Buka Street”, the recent addition to Amazon Prime’s collection of Nigerian films, unravels a riveting narrative revolving around two sisters, Yejide and Awele, who find themselves perpetually at loggerheads, a rivalry that is all too familiar in African polygamous households.
Taking the lead roles are Nigerian actresses Funke Akindele and Mercy Johnson, who play the roles of sisters Yejide and Awele, respectively. These actresses are well-regarded in the Nollywood industry, but the casting choice of Mercy Johnson, a non-native Igbo speaker, to play an Igbo character raised a few eyebrows and unfortunately fell short of expectations. Despite Johnson’s evident talent, her portrayal of the Igbo language seemed inauthentic and challenging to engage with, suggesting that perhaps a native Igbo actress would have been better suited for the role.
The story takes us through a heated rivalry born out of maternal competitiveness, ethnic tensions, and business competition on the eponymous Buka Street. Set against the backdrop of the bustling food scene, the mothers’ rivalry, convincingly portrayed by Sobowale Sola and Tina Mba, spirals out of control, leading to underhanded tactics, sabotage, and an escalating feud that ultimately results in physical harm.
The screenplay effectively highlights the adverse effects of polygamy and unhealthy competition, portraying the damage it inflicts on familial relations and individual lives. The intertwined narratives of unsuccessful marriages and personal trials add another layer of complexity to the story, as it delves into the personal lives of Awele and Yejide.
Despite these commendable elements, the movie disappointingly takes its foot off the pedal when it comes to pacing. A two-hour-long film shouldn’t take three days to watch, and yet “Battle on Buka Street” did. The storyline frequently meandered, dragging on certain scenes while hurriedly glossing over others, making it a tedious viewing experience.
One of the key missteps was the lack of context given for the stampede during Adeilade’s performance at the Otanwa Carnival. Though a police chase was evident, the film failed to adequately explain why it began, leaving viewers puzzled. Similarly, Awele’s sudden connection with her Muslim neighbor was haphazard and poorly justified, detracting from the storyline’s overall coherence.
In conclusion, “Battle on Buka Street” offers a compelling exploration of familial rivalries, cultural disparities, and the harsh realities of polygamous marriages, but it falls short in delivering a consistently engaging narrative. The film’s pacing issues, coupled with problematic casting choices, undermines the potentially impactful storytelling. Despite its intriguing premise and commendable performances, the movie’s execution was disappointingly lackluster.
Rating: 2.5/5 stars.
Image source: Afrocritik