Haruna Yakubu, aka Gidigat is an Abuja-based Kannywood artiste, who has carved a niche for himself in Hausa movie industry. In this interview with RUTH CHOJI, the artiste called on northern elites to invest in the industry to make it more viable.
How did you get into Kannywood?
I started from stage play performances and later joined Kannywood. Producers always invite me to either help out in their movies or act in them because of my talent. I started acting here in Abuja since 2003. The first movie I starred in was ‘Duniya Labari’ and since then, I have taken part in about 13 movies.
Some artistes have complained that some movie roles are more difficult than others. Have you ever experienced such difficulties?
My most difficult movie role which is also my favorite is ‘Zo kiji’, where I had many wives and one child. One of my wives took the child away without anybody in the house knowing his whereabouts. This made the house to know no peace. So as the husband, I am obliged to put the house together which wasn’t easy.
Supposing it was in real life, what would you have done?
If God said you will go through such challenge, then you are helpless. You just have to be patient. Having a large family is part of our culture and religion, so handling it will not really be a problem. Besides, such things are happening in many homes right now.
The aim was for us to provide them with the solution to such problems; that was the message behind the movie. It was not just to entertain, but to also educate.
What was your first day on set like?
I got a call from a director who is also a friend to star alongside other big acts in the industry – actors like Sani Danja-. I was nervous and shy but at the same time, excited that I was going to act. I really want to thank God because I became bold, courageous and confident in delivering my lines very well. After the movie, I was asked to bring other people who I feel can act to join us at subsequent movies.
What difficulties are you facing as an artiste?
The problem in Kannywood is that we don’t produce movies that depict our concept, culture and tradition as Hausas. The whole world knows that the Hausa man has his culture which is rich and peculiar to him. We have talented musicians in the north and our youths can sing very well. The problem with some of the things they copy is that, we may sing like the Indians, but we cannot dress like them. So they end up wearing all manner of clothes that do not suit the movie.
After coming this far, one would have thought that we would have passed this stage and start producing things that are peculiar to us and our culture. Another problem is over using one artiste at the detriment of others. It is not professional and this attitude has rendered most of the new or aspiring artistes impotent. We need to inject new faces so that the industry can grow. Another problem. People just produce movies without professional inputs.
Why are artistes vacating Kano to other states? Does it have anything to do with the new rules set by the Hisbah Committee?
Kano State is seen as the commercial nerve centre of the north and the headquarters of Kannywood. Hausa movies are not complete without actors from Kano State. We still go there and also give preference to the people from Kano.
I think the change in states has more to do with the enlargement and growth of the industry. There is no way we will leave Kano and move the industry to another place, because we have people with experience and wisdom there.
Sometime last year, the President released money to the entertainment industry, did it get to Kannwood?
I think so. I heard of it and I learned that anyone that wants to benefit from it would have to go through a process to be able to access it. I am sure the money will be put to good use because we have good administrators.
How have you been handling your fans?
There is this local film house close to where I live, whenever they show my film, people in that area stares at me as if I am from the moon. Those that are bold walk up to me to compliment my effort. The look is what baffles me. But I really thank God because the movie industry has opened doors for me.
Have any of these fans ever done anything to impress you?
Yes, fans have called me from Sokoto, Maiduguri and other parts of Nigeria and I think that was awesome. Such calls encourage me to do better. Some goes on to tell me of the lessons they learnt from a particular role I played. So I would say that my fans have been really great; even those that stare at me, I am sure it is out of admiration and love for what I do.
Would you hug and kiss an actress if it is required by the director?
There is no role I cannot play in movies. If I am asked to kiss an actress, I will do it because I know it is just acting and it will portray the film better.
What suggestion can you provide for Kannywood to bridge the gap between it and Nollywood?
If we want to bridge that gap between Kannywood and Nollywood, then we must follow the rules of the profession. For example, we have wealthy individuals who can inject money into the industry to develop it. But our elites will not do that; the only thing they think about is their family.
The greatest problem of the industry is funding and we cannot grow and bridge this gap unless we have funds. Our leaders in the north must invest in this industry; it is viable and can create millions of jobs for the jobless youths. Producers must also pay their artistes well. Some will deceive you to act and will not pay you.
It is bad and not healthy for growth of the industry. Northern leaders must encourage the youths to be more creative by boosting avenues for jobs for them.