Anyone, who has written about Nigeria in the last 10 years will probably tell you this: While the population has tremendously increased, the standard of living of the populace and the societal rest have proportionately gone down.
One wouldn’t be entire incorrect if one says the same on Kannywood in 2014. On one hand, the industry can boast of releasing over 1000 movies, but on the other, few of these figures were tolerable, and fewer were true entertainments.
It wasn’t a surprise then, to have this thriving industry on its knee as the result of infiltration of Indian movies translated (or rather lip-synched) into Hausa Language. This more cut-throat form of piracy which adds to the ever-present menace of piracy can be partly attributed to the neglect of Government, with Kannywood carrying the rest of the blame.
Actor Ali Nuhu recently suggested that the shift from DVD to cinema is the strategy he thinks would transcend the industry to the next level. He was right. But then again, how many movies are cinema worthy? I think it’s futile if tons of movies are released every monday when they lack the qualities movies need to stand. Kannywood needs to limit production and ensure better quality. Production of atleast marginally quality movies is one challenge India-Hausa movies can’t counteract.
The second issue India-Hausa films expose is lack of genre movies in Kannywood. Our movie industry and its people are terribly stereotyped into feeding us with unrealistic comedies and larger-than-life dramas which in turn have given nothing but predictable plots and resolutions. Our people are in the state of despair and frustration. They need entertainments to serve as an escape hatch for them to forget their worries and tensions, even if its effect last for few hours. Kannywood lacks enough entertainment genres. The industry needs to pay attention to aspects such as props, effects, etc so as to give audience variety of genres to choose from depending on individual moods. Genres such as sci-fi, horror, thriller, actions, etc are one reason why people go for India-Hausa movies. This could explain why movies such as Jarumin Maza, Basaja were successful.
It can’t be overemphasized that Kannywood movies are too tired in concepts and executions. The writing is often lazy and systematically written to go with the imagination of the audience, for they watch similar versions before. Upon closer look, you find little creativity in the industry. Filmmaking is for the dynamic not the dormant; it’s about constantly experimenting ideas and concepts, unfortunately that’s not the case in Kannywood. Writers often trash any ingenuity and model all their characters as complete stereotypes. Also, they follow easy routes when relating their stories in aspects such as dialogue, symbolism, artistic description, interweaving of characters, etc. This blatant embrace of commerce over art makes Kannywood movies more and more tired.
There is no real professionalism in the executing department either. Every Buba and Tanko claims to be a director the moment they sit down and tell a cameraman off the street to shoot. Few directors seem to pay attention to the standard of the scripts, to lightning, sound production, appropriateness of location to the theme of the movie. After some accidental success, some directors/producers even guise under their last success to create a similar story, which is often annoying. Few directors have the idea to create a spark between their characters and the viewers. Audience needs fresh stories, casts, locations, and because they inevitably have to watch, switch to India-Hausa films.
The fourth element in this cocktail is the unnecessary splitting of movies into two. Our movies show unconnected scenes and dedicate several minutes on these scenes just to have enough footage to split. I think it’s irrelevant for a movie that’s rarely upto two hours of normal time to be split into several parts simply because the producers want more money. Most people prefer watching a complete movie at once, and this puts India-Hausa films at advantage. Our producers must understand that its high time they realise the importance of giving audience what they want. Kannywood shouldn’t continue to be tied down by this archaic tradition, it is time to break free. I think only very substantial movies should be split, if necessary.
Another element which I think has a pivotal role to play in the subject is the industry’s inability to truly expand. I think Kannywood needs to uplift and motivate its middle class because the performance of any organization is mostly evaluated by the activity of this class; for they are the majority, and most of the products come from them. We can’t be all at the top at the same time. However, If we are ahead and do not have the humility to share our opportunity with those coming along, then we have learned very little. Kannywood will continue to favor Quantity over Quality if this voluntary or involuntary monopoly remains unrelaxed. Even people that initiated the idea of India-Hausa flicks are said to be people rejected by the Industry. The only way to maintain a level of integrity is to have creative commons otherwise the bad works will forever label the industry.
I will also encourage players in the industry to remember our heritage because film goes beyond entertainment. It’s a cultural brand that signifies a people and their background, their origin and who they are, as well as rudiments to sustain their future generation. The only thing, one could argue, that shows most Kannywood movies as being belongings of Hausawa is the language. And now that foreign movies speak Hausa Language, that only advantage is equaled.
The infiltration of India-Hausa flicks signals the dampening of enthusiasm of the public. Players, who are not too high in the clouds to see that anything may be wrong with Kannywood, should work together towards maintaining a level of integrity and genuineness that will invite and encourage growth of the industry. We look forward to this in 2015.
Written by: Anas Abdullahi