When the Hisbah Committee in Kano banned the activities of Kannywood a few years ago, many thought it would mark the end of the Hausa movie industry. A lot of movie fans had expressed fear that they may not see their actors and actresses on the screen again.
They have, however, heaved a deep sigh of relief as the industry has bounced back with positive changes, showcasing the rich northern culture.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND on some of the changes introduced as a result of the censorship, Ali Nuhu, one of the pioneers of the industry said, “The censorship has brought sanity into the industry. Now there is decently and respect for the rule of law. People don’t produce films anyhow anymore because films now pass through the censorship board. It has brought sanity and accountability to the system.
We are expected to project good image to the public as well as impact good morals on our fans. The Kano State government really did a good thing through the censorship board. You don’t have to be told who the real actors are. When you watch their movies, you will see and judge for yourself.
As much as we give room for other talents to come in, we still screen them to know who can do better. I also see the influx of people as an indication that we are growing. We are expanding, and gradually we want to break the barrier between Hollywood and Kannywood.”
Also speaking on the effects of the censorship, another Abuja-based Kannywood star, Fatima Musa said, “I believe it is healthy. If others did not allow me to come in, would I have been there? So I think more people should come in, it is healthier; the sky is large enough to accommodate all of us. As much as we need professionals, we also need fresh faces to spice up the industry and create employment.”
“When Abubakar Rabo, former director-general of the Kano State Censors Board was in power, he brought in new reforms; and some people felt the reforms were against them. Some of the new rules introduced by the board were that you must register as an actor or actress, your film must go through the board.
The board also introduced a new dress code. As a result of this, most of the producers felt frustrated and decided to abandon Kano for other places.
“The Hisbah law is so strong that if you produce a movie without the board’s approval you will have to indicate that the film will not be sold in Kano State. One of my films, Kurciya was banned in Kano State because some of the actors and actresses did not register. We had to write on the jacket, ‘Not to be sold in Kano State’.
“Most producers have moved filming to places like Kaduna, Bauchi , Jos and Abuja, even though Abuja is not popular because of high cost of living. My boss, Abdullahi DanAsabe has been trying to effect some changes too. After producing a film, he looks for professionals who will write the subtitle until they get it right. That is why we in Prime Studio have not gotten such complaints,” Gambo Wase, a producer and artiste said.
On the challenges the industry is facing, Ali Nuhu said, “Funding is a major challenge. Most people are afraid to sink money into the industry because of piracy. Getting a private organisation to fund movies is a herculean task because they are afraid, especially in the Hausa movies.
We need more funding. If the movie industry is harnessed and well funded, we can generate money for the economy and create jobs. As it is, the industry has created work for thousands of Nigerians, and if the government can assist the stakeholders, it has the potential to bring in billions of naira annually.
We also need the latest equipment; our cameras are not modern. We also need experts in the field, people who have been trained and are experienced in directing films. These days, once someone has a camera, he starts calling himself a director. However, we have professionals, but we still need more.”
“We have cultural challenges. We are not even allowed to hug in movies. When we act emotional scenes where we are expected to show emotions, we are not allowed to do it because of our culture,” Fatima added.
Also speaking, Gambo said, “Our major challenges are low quality, giving out films on credit and lack of funding. No actor or actress will come to location until they had been paid. Then marketers will not pay you until they sell the films. Our major problem is that a producer will produce a small film and spend small amount of money while another will spend millions, but when it gets to the market, it will cost the same. Sometimes the small film will make more sales than the big one.
“We don’t have the culture of going to the cinema like our foreign counterparts, which is where they make their money. If you do that here you won’t make any money because Nigerians have lost the habit of going to the cinema. So at the end of the day some will pay you while others will refuse to remit the money from the sales.”