Ali Nuhu is an icon in the movie industry. The married father of two celebrated his 41st birthday on March 17. The Glo ambassador and handsome actor with more than a decade’s experience in the industry took time out with SAMUEL ABULUDE just before the AMVCA 2015 event, to speak on trends in Kannywod and what he’s been up to.
As one of the few Kannywood actors who have transcended the industry’s boundaries, how has it been for you?
It has not been a stroll in the park to achieve this feat, and I’m just even starting. Kannywood is a growing industry and I’m glad to be part of the growth. For me, being an actor has been challenging and it has been one step after another, one point of victory after the other. Acting has been a wonderful career for me, yet it has been challenging and nothing really comes easy. I’ve had to focus on it full time and it is yielding fruits now.
What’s new with Kannywood?
Kannywood like other genres of the movie industry has had its share of lulls. Presently, Kannywood is experiencing a flip and this is partly caused by the recent establishment of Film House in Kano. This has opened a great opportunity for people to visit the cinema in the company of their loved ones. It has not been like this before. We used to have cinema in the 80s and 90s but with the economic downturn, they closed down. Now Film House, being the first cinema to open in Kano, will surely encourage others to follow. The other cinema we have are in Abuja.
Kannywood seems to be lagging behind other genres in the Nigerian movie industry, do you agree?
Yes and no. As I said, Kannywood is evolving. Other regional movie industries have taken a step higher because of the advent of cinema. Other than that, the movies in Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa languages are all similar. They are all drama and depend on the scripts and the ingenuity of the director to bring out the best from each character.
The new Nollywood as we call it has afforded the movie industry to explore new frontiers. For the last four or five years, there has been a rise in quality of movies in Nollywood and this is because stakeholders and film producers are aware of the need to premier the movies via the cinema.
This, coupled with the global attention Nollywood is getting, has made movie makers and investors both within Nigeria and in the diaspora, to begin to explore the business side of movie making in Nigeria.
As you can see, there are good quality movies now in Nollywood, particularly the English speaking, because of the opportunities available to premier the movies in the cinema and not just shoot the movies for the home video market alone.
This is a craft and business that ought to be embraced and enhanced. Back to your question, Kannywood now has great movies and we are doing better with increased technologies in the production of movies and the dialogue thing which expresses the cultural diversity of the people in the north.
It is the same in the movies in different regions; we are all trying to bring out good stories that address issues in our nations. We may not have the funds we need to do a great movie, but we are trying within our capacity. Nollywood was born as a child of necessity; other genres have passed through this phase, so Kannywood must past through that phase and get better with time.
What does the advent of Film House Cinema in Kano portend for the northern movie industry?
It will open up the cinema culture in the north just like other regions are experiencing now. Growing up, I used to go and watch films in the theatres and there were a couple of cinema houses here and there in the 80s and early 90s. Now, we hope that with companies investing in building modern day cinema houses in different regions, this will open up the cinema culture everywhere; and will in turn impact on the movie makers who will make movies for the cinemas. Kannywood before now was making movies with the home video market in mind, the stories were there, the human capacity-actors and actresses were there; we worked with a small budget, but with government recognition and intervention, the movie industry has grown speedily. Apart from the cinema, there are plans and efforts by the company to partner other corporate firms to build capacity of film makers here in Kano and other environs; Abuja, Kaduna, Minna, Bauchi and other cities.
You were made Film House Kano Cinema ambassador, what does that mean to you?
It means a lot to me – a responsibility to support the growth of cinema culture in Kano and other environs and also to support the ideals of the company, Film House, lead by Mr Kene Mparu; which is to build scores of cinema houses all over the cities in Nigeria. It is a priviledge, and the cinema in Kano has brought a new vista; the movie makers in the north are being encouraged to explore different opportunities.
There has been speculation that it may be bad business for the company to build cinema in Kano, considering the level of insecurity, your thoughts?
It is not bad business; it is good business because they would have considered the challenges before establishing a Film House Cinema in Kano. Besides, a cinema house affords the people to relax and engage more in social interaction. Everyone wants to go out of the comfort of their homes and watch the current movies on a bigger screen with other people. The feeling is always different from watching at home. The home video market afforded us this opportunity, which we have engaged; the next level is the cinema.
How did it feel to be nominated as the 2014 Leadership Entertainer of the Year?
It is a great priviledge to be adjudged the Entertainer of the Year not only from this region, but nationally. LEADERSHIP Newspaper is a big paper and I’m elated and humbled to be named such. Allah be praised! I know that I’m the first actor from here to be given this award and this spurs me on to continue to do more and not rest on my oars.
So what should we expect from Ali Nuhu in 2015?
Expect great things. I have produced 13 movies so far and will produce a few more in 2015. Of note is a movie that will be done in Hausa and English language. It is a novel idea and this will bring both Kannywood and Nollywood actors into one project.
One of the Globacom adverts you did highlighted your acting, comic and dancing skills, how were you able to get that done?
(smiles) You mean the one that I appeared on different platforms, dancing, cracking a joke, singing and stepping into other people’s spaces? It was the creativity of the agency that undertook the project. For me, it is the same craft-entertainment. I’m not just an actor; I’m an entertainer as you saw in the Glo commercial.