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Shanty Town review

Shanty Town tells the story of a kingpin in a slum in Lagos, Nigeria who is really being controlled by a powerful politician to run an illegal drug and prostitution ring. The 6-part series stars Ini Edo, Chidi Mokeme, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Peter Okoye, Nse Ikpe-Etim, Sola Sobowale, Nancy Isime, Shaffy Bello, and Lily Afe, amongst others. It was created by Xavier Ighorodje and directed by Dimeji Ajibola.

Casting

I have to commend the casting director. I loved the fact that they used old, refined actors to remind us of the talent that Nollywood has been breeding for decades. It’s not all about using new faces all the time.

This series had very strong characters. Each character was stretched in a different capacity, playing in unfamiliar territory. The director did a great job at bringing out the best in each character.

Chidi Mokeme was the star of the show for me. I’ve always loved him as an actor. I never really imagined him as an agbero (tout). He did a fantastic job, like he really ate the role. He spoke fantastic Yoruba, Igbo and Pidgin at the same time, very natural. His costume was my absolute favorite. His re-introduction in episode 2 from that bath tub scene, with the smoke, the music, and then his gangsta outfits — looked absolutely chaotic and fantastic at the same time.

RMD in such a brutal role, I never would have imagined. That scene where he had Shalewa stripped naked, and then the rape scene shocked me to my core. Like RMD? Nollywood Zaddy? Nooooo….He did a great job and as usual he showed us his range as an actor.

I was really excited to see Ini Edo back on screen as a main character. She is indeed a delight on screen and we need to see her in more challenging roles like this one.

Nse — I really just love looking at her face. Nse has mastered the art of utilizing appropriate body language in films. She’s been overacting recently in films but she was very natural in this one and mostly let her face do the talking. Her hair, makeup, costumes were also really fitting for the character of Ene.

Peter Okoye aka one half of Psquare, was also surprisingly okay at his role. I wasn’t irritated by his performance and that is enough for me.

What was Shaffy Bello’s role in the series? Don’t get me wrong, she did a great job but why was she there? Maybe we will find out in season two, now that she’s governor, but her character was random.

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Scenes

The scene between Femi Fernandez and Shalewa having sex in the back of the car. When they both climax at the same time while Jackie’s head is being cut off and the blood splatters all over the place and all parties in both scenes sigh at the same time. What a fantastic montage.

The dialogue in this series kept me gripped.

I loved that the film gave off dark colours of blues and purples showing melancholy, passivity and eroticism but really great lighting was used for us to also be able to see everything that was going on very clearly and pass on the right messages in different scenes.

The women’s fighting scene was way too slow for my liking — they could have done better.

Also, the video of Chief Fernandez at his fundraiser was not shocking enough and is it realistic for police in Nigeria to arrest a man who claims he owns Lagos? Just like that? We all know things like this don’t always have happy endings so a bit more reality would have been appreciated in that area.

The scene where all the girls stabbed Scar to death was very satisfying. A montage showing the end of the Chief Fernandez and his puppet concurrently would have made for a better ending. But then they felt the need to add that extra scene that made no sense to anybody — Toyin Abraham comes out of nowhere to initiate some girls that we haven’t seen before and then a mystery person walks onto the set — we don’t even get to see the persons face and then the episode ends on a random cliff hanger. Who was that? Dame? Mama T? Someone else? No clue, no explanation and that was really annoying. After all they hype, the ending was very flat.

Chief Fernandez’ speech at the end sounds very familiar though *cough cough*. This show seems like a true life story that’s shining a light on past or current happenings — the story unfolds 😂

Overall, I really enjoyed the series. I loved how Nigerian languages, especially Ibibio, were spoken so freely. It has the right amount of drama, even though the suspense was a bit lost in there. I loved the grime — the right amount of blood, sweat and tears gave us that sense of danger. Safe to say that Nigeria’s attempt at a mafia film has been almost successful. It’s a 7/10 for me.

One last thing though — what about the romance between Shalewa and Femi???

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