For 15 years the musician cum actor has been in the entertainment industry and has made a mark with endorsement from global brands. Sani Musa Danja can be said to be a Kannywood icon. In this chat with DUSTAN AGHEDO, the father of four speaks on how music paved way for him for his acting career, the need for government to fully support the film industry in Nigeria and other matters
When did you start getting the spotlight?
I actually started with music before going into movies. And I actually love music more than movies but people love me in movies more. I always get calls to come for movie cast. So I am doing this for the people.
How long have you been on the movie scene?
I’ve been here for 15 years now but mostly from the North that is Kannywood. My first movie was also about 14 years ago in Kano titled ‘Madubi’ where I was the executive producer and also acted. Since then I have done countless movies. For seven years I shot in the Nigerian motion picture, Nollywood, but it was three to four years ago I starred in my first TV series here in Lagos and it has been a wonderful adventure since then. You will find me in most of the big movies that are coming out very soon.
What are you involved in now?
My recent project is a comedy movie titled ‘Boss Of All Bosses’. It shows how companies, people want to be superior. Things like this happen in real life to the extent that some companies nail others as a result of competition. It is a battle you just have to strive to win, never give up, be consistent and keep winning. So the movie is sending a message that even if you think you’re not a match for a person and can’t compete, just challenge yourself and keep on trying. It is supposedly for laughs but it is also a morale booster. There is also ‘Fantastic Numbers’ which is about enmity, friendship, brotherhood. It is a movie to watch out for.
How would you rate and differentiate Kannywood style of movie from that of Nollywood?
Kannywood talks a lot about the culture of Hausa movies but Nollywood does not really talk about culture. To me, it talks about the way of life and what is really going on. Kannywood industry talks about the present situation we are in. For instance the mode of dressing, the issue of Boko Haram even corruption. Things that people feel are peculiar to the north whether positive or negative. We try to broaden the picture for people to really understand how it works and how it is. So Kannywood movies talk a lot about the nature of the background and its present state. But the major difference of Kannywood to that of Nollywood is the language where the former is in Hausa and the latter in English. And a lot of people learn English language because it is the country’s universal language that is accepted for everyone to communicate with which is why a lot of people watch the English movies more than the language movies like Yoruba or Igbo.
What are the challenges you had to deal with as an entertainer and Kannywood actor?
Considering the fact that where I am coming from there is a lot of religious, cultural things that once you cross some lanes people will talk. I was on the receiving end for that too for a while. But I was raised by my own parents and I was taught good principles. So I know what is good and what is bad. I don’t need somebody to tell me this is bad. When I feel something is okay with me I will do it. There are so many things that happen in English movies that can’t happen in Kannywood movies, like the touching, fondling and other things for instance. But from what I believe in which in English says ‘you’re not judged by what you do but by the intentions of doing that very thing’. Some people just have a different perspective on the way they look at religion and what they do. So when I am getting paid to do a job and they are saying whatever you do is based on your actions, my intentions know better. I have roles I cannot play in movies that I do without anybody telling me.
What is your take on the video of Falz, ‘This Is Nigeria’, termed controversial?
I must confess I haven’t seen the video but I have heard comments about it. I would say it really depends on the message he’s trying to send across. Sometimes you just don’t go into conclusion because maybe he had some girls on hijab dancing shaku shaku. From what you see, the way you give it a meaning might not be the same way the singer is trying to give it a meaning. Music is a universal language. Everybody loves music whether you’re a Christian or Muslim. Yes, your faith may not agree with certain things but music is a universal language. As long as it is good music, it goes viral and if it goes viral it means it has a message. So like I said before, I haven’t seen the video so I don’t want to make comments on what I don’t really understand. But you must know that I can do a song now and bring different people with different ethnicity, different culture, different faiths just to show that this is Nigeria, this is Africa. We are one. Music can be used to build a nation.
What is your message for upcoming actors from Kannywood who want to join Nollywood?
The movie industry is a profession. If you are not in the profession or you don’t know about the profession, you can’t be there to judge what other people do. The main idea should be about what message they are trying to send to the people. I for one can be given the role of a pastor and I will gladly do it. It is a character, it is my profession. So I have to do it well. So they need to see it as a profession, act their roles without been forced to do something that goes against their own faith. The same way one can use music to build a nation, one can use movies too to build a nation. Songs and movies are very strong weapons one can use to propel or halt anything.
What role is the government playing now in the movie sector?
The government is actually not doing enough to support the movie industry. And they make a lot of profit from every movie that comes out through the taxes that we pay. Government should find a solution to boost our investment, find a solution for us to reap what we have spent. They need to stand for us in so many ways. They need to fight piracy within and outside the country. Our CDs are being dubbed by people.
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