TSUMAGIYA, the new film by Yakubu M Kumo and directed by Yasin Auwal completely misses the point. The story projects the necessity of respecting all humans of whatever financial and social status, the evils of spoiling a child and some of those elements are still there. Unfortunately, it ends up so lost in romantic plot that distort the character’s motivation, and so wrapped up with childish logic that makes it feel more like a fairytale and the original intent is totally lost.
Lazy, transparent, disposable and at its worst, boring, TSUMAGIYA is sometimes an educative picture consistently ruined by unfocused directing, bizarre editing choice, phoned-in voice acting and a script that’s neither witty or filled with momentum.
Having lost her mother the day she was born, Zaliha (Hadiza Gabon) receives double love from her father Al-Amin Buhari (he puts up the film’s singular superlative show). She is arrogant and largely unsympathetic. Her step mother Hadiza Muhammad is wary of her because she single-handedly resulted to the divorce of her father’s three former wives who wouldn’t swear allegiance to her misdoings. Kabiru (Sadiq Sani Sadiq) is a son of a billionaire who accidentally calls Zaliha and suddenly attracted to her. So when Kabiru flies to Bauchi to sign his father’s business contract, he comes to Gombe to see her. On seeing him, she becomes attracted to his charisma and decides to test his love. She sends him their house’s serving girl Hannatu (Aisha Abubakar) under the pretext that she is Zaliha. Kabir instantly falls in love with the serving girl. When Zaliha reveals her true self, Kabiru is already lost in the love of the serving girl and marries her. Zaliha is left heart-broken and the experience re-awakens the humanity in her.
The first issue with TSUMAGIYA is that it chooses love (instead of a natural cause) to punish Zaliha. People do believe in love but not to that extent. This choice makes the film phony to especially older audience who are mostly not so excited about love. Whatever comes out of this genre (romance), if not carefully told, is believed to be strictly an element of entertainment that doesn’t represent any meaning in real life. To the audience that are too excited about love, most of them will be carried away by the love story instead of going away with the central premise (the message)- ask some random person out of TSUMAGIYA, he will tell you “TSUMAGIYA is a story of a lucky serving who gets away with the billionaire’s son.” The romantic plot either makes the film phony or overshadows the intended message. Put a love story, but with great caution, probably as a subplot.
The characters lack depth; TSUMAGIYA picks up the characters from public domain without breathing more life into them (the billionaire’s son, a girl in family terms with poverty, misbehaving daughter of a millionaire). There is nothing unique about them. You can sleepwalk through the first half that doesn’t highlight anything the eyeball grabs but irritation from Zaliha and her friend. Instead, the movie should have established Kabir as just more than a billionaire’s son but someone who is compassionate, reasonable and courageous; and Hannatu as just more than a random serving girl but someone with sheer decency and lightness of spirit.
What remains unforgivable is the film’s logic. Kabir is a son of a Billionaire who chooses an ugly serving in place of a beautiful girl from a rich family. The only person who could do this is someone who is religious, compassionate, humble and strong-willed which Kabir sadly is not. He mistakenly calls a woman who behaves rudely and yet she’s attracted to him (her sweet voice to be precise) and he requests her to send her pictures to him through his email. This is unexpected of someone who is religious and rational. He decided to stay in Gombe for a week just to see a strange woman’s face leaving his father’s multi-million naira contracts in Kaduna; he takes a girl out of her father’s house without her parent’s consent; he puts materialistic smile on his face, talks with swagger and he claims several times that he’s billionaire’s son. I think those attributes belong to someone who is irresponsible and weak-willed, someone who’ll never dumb a beautiful woman over an ugly one. And again, he falls in love with no apparent reason; she neither tells him something that triggers his compassion nor shows him.
TSUMAGIYA doesn’t attempt to string its low-stage story with other themes. As a love story it lacks moment of joy and emotional connect. None of the humour feels fresh or memorable, even the girl who gets the prince hasn’t said anything reasonable to him. To make matters worse, even the playful bantering between our lead characters is done on phone(which I consider a very uncinematic device).
“Labari kamar Almara” one of the characters said. After watching TSUMAGIYA, I can’t help but conclude the same thing.
Written by: Anas Abdullahi