‘Mokalik’ or better still ‘Mechanic’ follows the career of an 11-year-old boy, Ponmile, who’s from the middle-class suburbs who spends the day as a lowly apprentice at a mechanic workshop in order to view life from the other side of the tracks.
His father arrives and sets to take him home; Ponmile now has to decide if he wants to return to school or take on his apprenticeship full time.
The film is gritty, earthy and eloquent in the language of the streets. There is neither finesse nor subtlety in human interactions.
Kamoru is charged with taking Ponmile to his first duty post. Ponmile is curious because arriving in his father’s car he had seen Kamoru and Erukutu on the verge of fisticuffs as they hurled verbal missiles at each other. Kamoru is not educated but he would have been super if his street smarts had been refined by education. Imbued with a keenly observant mind, he gives his young charge a quick tutorial on flight patterns, telling him which plane would fly past at what time and in what formation.
Kunle Afolayan got his characters right from Kamoru to Erukutu, Chairman to NEPA, Ajentina to Tiri, and Otunba to Obama.
But the characters who do not rise to the occasion are Simi and Ponmile. Simi was clearly cast because she is a singer and her character has musical aspirations while Ponmile does not fully shed his “ajebo” bonafides to fully integrate despite eating amala with his fingers no less.
Mikalik’s sexual attraction to Simi in the movie draws more speculations than any other character versing in the movie seeing as Mokalik was much more younger than Simi. In Mokalik, when Simi comments on his age, Ponmile says “I am almost 12” to which Simi replies in one of the best lines I have heard in a Nigerian movie – “And I am almost in trouble with my mother.”