It is difficult to discuss this film without talking about Mortal Inheritance, a 1996 film by Bond Emeruwa, Andy Amemechi and Zeb Ejiro. One, both films are stories of working-class young ladies in their twenties, suffering the enervating sickle cell anaemia. Two, the two young ladies in both films are in love with men, whose mothers oppose marriage to sickle cell patients. Finally, the fact that childbirth is a high risk venture for sufferers of the disease is dramatized in both films.
Mortal Inheritance was so successful that the producers, Silverscreen Associates, toyed with the idea of a sequel a few years after the first installment, though the idea was jettisoned at some point. It was also the film, which gave Omotola Jalade Ekeinde a THEMA award in 1997; making her a household name.
Funmi Adebayo (Kemi Lala Akindoju) is a high-flying PR executive, dating Sanya (Seun Akindele) who is tied to his mother’s (Taiwo Ajai-Lycett’s) apron strings. Funmi’s job is threatened over her incessant absence from work due to her medical condition, but fate has a bigger surprise for Funmi.
The casting of Akindoju as Funmi could not have been more appropriate. She looks the part and evokes empathy from the viewers. Seun Akindele, Kunle Afolayan, Carol King, Bimbo Manuel and almost all the other actors are convincing in their performances. The dialogue in Dazzling Mirage is stimulating.
The subplot for Mr. and Mrs. Adebayo (Bimbo Manuel and Carol King) is quite thought-provoking and the timing of the revelation of their true story is apt. Mrs. Atoyebi’s (Kunleb Afolayan’s mother’s) role is a redeeming one for mothers-in-law, who are often maligned in Nollywood films. Mrs. Atoyebi rates grey matter above all other considerations; after all, if Funmi was her daughter, she would not have rejected the young lady owing to her ailment. Indeed, in real life, there are more in-laws like Mrs. Atoyebi than there are like Sanya’s mum.
The involvement of the Sickle Cell Foundation is a welcome development, which will support the organization’s advocacy programmes apart from the fact that it increases the credibility of the story. It is also good that Fumni ceases to see the Sickle Cell Support Group as a ‘pity party’ and plunges herself fully into its activities.
The mention of medical terms like Packed Cell Volume and the display of the World Sickle Cell Day (June 19) also show a well-researched screenplay by Ade Solanke. The scene of the Caesarian Section is a beautiful addition to the film.
There are knocks for Dazzling Mirage. Mama Sanya’s role is a stereotypical one! The audience has seen her type in thousands of films, including top notch films and their (the women’s) stories are very predictable. Sanya’s character is equally unexciting. He is a mummy’s boy quite alright, but he could have resisted his mum in frivolous matters since he is initially established as a weak young man. Then, he would heed her advice when it comes to the sickle cell or more serious matters. Theirs is a rose-garden relationship, an uninteresting feature in films.
Whoever advised Tunde Kelani to do a film that is almost wholly rendered in the English Language other than his usual style of throwing in the Yoruba or any other Nigerian language from time to time, especially when some of the actors are not very good users of English! The nurse that Funmi meets at the hospital’s reception struggles with her grammar. The doctor says, ‘She has the best as far as medical care goes. Be rest assured …’ instead of ‘… rest assured …’
Lanre (Yomi Fash Lanso) says, ‘Lucky for you …’ instead of ‘Luckily for you …’ At the sickle cell forum, the small boy asks, ‘Mum, I will soon be in my school football team, aren’t I? The correct question tag should have been:‘Mum, I will soon be in my school football team, won’t I?
Bukky (Bukola Awoyemi) is a busybody. How else can one express her interference in her friend’s relationship? If she was close to Sanya, there is a way she could have done it without sounding offensive. The lady, who calls her boyfriend ‘mumu’, (a stupid person) during the sickle cell counseling session, is daft! If that was meant to be a joke, it came out as very rude.
None of Funmi’s colleagues follows her as she leaves the meeting under intense pain. At least, one of them could have assisted her to her car and the company could have assigned a driver to take her to the hospital. Then, why didn’t she go to the hospital? One does not also understand why Sanya fails to take her to the hospital when he arrives.
When he reads the dazzler note, several months into their union – given that his wife is heavily pregnant, we only see Dotun’s (Kunle Afolayan’s) pictures in his office. Why isn’t there a picture of him and his wife in the office?
The overriding fact about Dazzling Mirage is that Tunde Kelani must be highly applauded for producing a film on sickle cell anaemia, which is preventable when intending couples with the sickle cell trait agree to part ways instead of subjecting their progeny to untold suffering and premature deaths. Since films educate and inform apart from offering entertainment, Dazzling Mirage reinforces the conversation initiated by Mortal Inheritance almost two decades ago, a discourse which the Nigerian society did not pay strict attention to since people, even prominent and well placed individuals, continue to give birth to children with sickle cell.