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“Postcards” Review: Hamisha Daryani Ahuja’s Series Stacks the Pile of Poorly-Contrived Nollywood Productions

“Postcards” Review: Hamisha Daryani Ahuja’s Series Stacks the Pile of Poorly-Contrived Nollywood Productions

Postcards Review: Hamisha Daryani Ahuj’s Series Stacks the Pile of Poorly-Contrived Nollywood Productions | Afrocritik

Rarely does one witness a gathering of filmmakers — from actors to editors to writers, and to producers — unified in pursuit of a story that, though layered with potential, belongs to the folder for the rough draft…

By Seyi Lasisi 

One has to assume at this rate that there is ongoing fierce competition in mainstream Nollywood. With each produced film and series, Nollywood filmmakers are relentlessly trying to outpace each other in making the most shoddy production, be it in writing, directing, acting, and producing. Unmindful of the subject matter, there is always something inherently tacky about the productions. When the acting isn’t monotonous and lacking in vigour, the writing of the films is often out of sync with reality. This portends the possibility that there seems to be a unified enthusiasm to keep churning out poorly thought-out productions to heighten the want of Nigerian cinephiles. What effect does this have? There is a reduced zest for watching Nollywood films, and with the plummeting number of cinema admission numbers, enthusiasm to watch Nigerian productions keeps dropping. And here comes Hamisha Daryani Ahuja’s Postcards

Postcards, Ahuj’s major production after the 2021 Namaste Wahala, is another cross-cultural relationship between Nollywood and Bollywood. Bunmi (Sola Sobowale), a wealthy and widowed socialite, leads a busy but lonely life. Yemi (Tobi Bakre), her only child, is unexplainably estranged from her mother. Aided by Bolu (Ibrahim Suleiman), his manager, Yemi’s hazy ambition to japa and pursue a dancing career materialises when a rare opportunity to join a dancing troupe in India presents itself. The mother, suffering from an illness Nigerian hospitals are ill-equipped to treat, has to be flown to Mumbai. Beset with fear of her mortality and companionless, Bunmi bonds with Dr Siddharth (Rajneesh Duggai), who is married to Zainab (Rahama Sadau). In India, we meet Olumide (Richard Mofe-Damijo), Bunmi’s brother who has possibly rescinded his Nigerian passport after living for decades in India. 

A continuation of Nollywood and Bollywood’s partnership, Postcards, with the story of Bunmi, underscores the glaring inequality in Nigeria, and its debilitating healthcare system. In 2024, decades after Nigerian independence, it is mortifying that Nigerians rely on external help in treating basic health complications. According to Ajjampur Ghanashyam, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, half of the 40, 000 Nigerians who annually travel to India go there for medical treatment. What this figure shows is how reliant Nigeria is on India for expert surgery. Thus, as Bunmi reluctantly accepts to move to India for surgery, it’s a moment of shame that this reliance continues when there are trained medical professionals constantly migrating out of Nigeria. Additionally, the series explores Nigerians’ enthusiastic interest in migrating to countries with better economies and structures. Although Yemi, which the series uses to explore this subject matter, is without any acute motivation to migrate, one cannot deny the topmost position migrating holds in the heart of Nigerians. 

But with its exploration of these subject matters aside, one of the constantly reiterated flaws of the Postcards is how the series subverts the story of its multiple casts. At one point we’re pinning towards Bunmi’s story. At another point, unearned attention is given to Dr Siddharth and Zainab’s marital story. Other times, it’s Yemi and Olumide’s story. It becomes infuriatingly difficult to determine whose story the series is telling. Although there’s a supposed underlying theme (family, love, and reconciliation) amongst these unidentical stories, the inability of the series to tie them together made the connection appear forced. Thus, unmindful of the supposed enjoyability the series possesses, it becomes laborious. 

“Postcards” Review: Hamisha Daryani Ahuj’s Series Stacks the Pile of Poorly-Contrived Nollywood Productions | Afrocritik

“Postcards” Review: Hamisha Daryani Ahuj’s Series Stacks the Pile of Poorly-Contrived Nollywood Productions | Afrocritik

If there’s anything worth drooling over in Postcards, it’s the relentless commitment to ensure that the series does not amount to much. Rarely does one witness a gathering of filmmakers — from actors to editors to writers, and producers — unified in pursuit of a story that, though layered with potential, belongs to the folder for the rough draft. But, judging from the long list of Nollywood productions that can fairly compete with Postcards, that will be a hasty assertion to make. Nollywood, in recent years, is replete with productions similar to Postcards in being ill-conceived. There are films in which viewers will question their existence even when they just concluded watching it a few minutes ago. 

Watching Bakre’s unmissable average performance, a question comes to mind: Isn’t the award-winning actor wrongly cast for this role? Perhaps, it’s a case of wrong casting, but that of directing. The possibility that Ahuja, the director, failed to direct Bakre and other cast members to give performances that match their expected roles is noticeable. Of all the cast,  Duggail appears to be the only actor with a sense of what’s at stake. While other actors’ performances are laid back, Duggail, playing the role of a conflicted husband and doctor, engages his body and emotions to communicate his character’s mood. 

“Postcards” Review: Hamisha Daryani Ahuj’s Series Stacks the Pile of Poorly-Contrived Nollywood Productions | Afrocritik

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Ironically, it is admirable that Postcards doesn’t try to elicit enthusiasm from viewers or build suspense. The episodes begin and end on a flat note. But despite having a minimal runtime, there are multiple scenes dragged out. Even at 1.5 speed,  the series is still painfully slow. It doesn’t help that there are way too many expendable scenes and characters stuffed into the series. For reference, not for lack of comprehension, but it’s hard to understand what additional insight or importance Isioma (Nancy Isime), Zainab’s friend, brings to the series. 

Streaming platforms continue to churn out productions. With each released production, stunned critics and audiences renew their energy in clamping them down. But, it seems no one is listening. Thus, enthusiastic and disinterested viewers are burdened and compelled to continue watching these productions. And Postcards has successfully joined that list of the “forced-to-watch” category. 

Rating: 2/5

(Postcards is currently streaming on Netflix.)

Seyi Lasisi is a Nigerian creative with an obsessive interest in Nigerian and African films as an art form. His film criticism aspires to engage the subtle and obvious politics, sentiments, and opinions of the filmmaker to see how they align with reality. He tweets @SeyiVortex. Email: Seyi.lasisi@afrocritik.com.

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