Kannywood Movie Review: There’s a Way


God bless the dichotomy between the rich and the poor, or as the socialists call it: the gap between the lower, the bourgeoisies and the upper classes. If it did not exist, the arts would, perhaps, have to invent one for stories to have conflict, upon which many films, novels, dramas, etc rely to intrigue us. This has been the trend since the Victorian Age, or before, with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist down to Femi Osofisan’s Marxist-influenced plays, and so on and so forth. Class consciousness is sadly here to stay with us.

Hausa film industry is equally not short of films based on this global theme. There’s a Way is just another addition to that archive, though in a new style: its language is no longer the ‘local’ Hausa one but the global English. This is one of the reasons why I had to preview the film prior to its release.

As I said in the preview, numerous Hausa films are flagrantly, poorly subtitled in wrong English. The subtitles oftentimes serve a contrary purpose: those with little or no grasp of Hausa language end up puzzled. The shoddy subtitles also expose the educational level of the people in the industry, and by and large, their region. Worse still, the actors, in other times, use ‘Eng-ausa’, a hotchpotch English-Hausa code-switching and mixing. But all that will soon be a history with the emergence of the second (Wasila [English version] is actually the first ever, but that was done more than a decade ago) Kannywood film in ‘Standard’ English language.

(Warning: this section contains spoilers)
There’s a Way does not only present the lower and upper classes struggle; the predatory nature of some university dons is equally bared. As a token, the women issue is not left untouched, thus it is used to set the story afloat. The film opens from a court scene where a woman, abused by her husband, is questioned by the judge. The husband allegedly forces her to abort pregnancies six times. Isham (Nuhu Abdullahi), as a secondary student, witnesses the hearing and becomes interested to study Law in order to assist the poor such as the wife who is evidently harmed. His dream is not meant to be realized easily.

After failing his exams at least twice, Isham, a curious boy from a poor family does not have money to register at a “miracle centre”, where candidates register for exams and “nobody ever fails”. He someday accompanies his friend to the centre and mistakenly bumps into Fadila (Hajara Jalingo), whose father gives her a hundred thousand naira (N100, 000) to register at the centre. The ‘accident’ is love at first sight. Days, perhaps months, pass, and then destiny brings them together as students of the same university. While her father every so often warns her against mingling with anyone from poor family, Isham and his two siblings are orphans raised by their sick mother.

As expected, Fadila’s father, Alhaji Mahdi (Sani Mu’azu) someday finds out that she has invited Isham to the house, though with the consent of her mother. He blasts them and chases Isham out. He asks his old friend, Dr. Bello (Umar Malumfashi), a lecturer at Isham’s university, to find ways to punish him. Coincidently, Dr. Bello is already at loggerhead with Isham over a protest the latter organizes against the sale of handout. Unknown to Alhaji, however, is that his friend has once tried to sleep with his daughter. Finally, Isham is framed and subsequently expelled. He is soon consoled and offered a sponsorship by Fadila to study in any southern Nigerian university he can get admitted into.

Alhaji Mahdi tries to marry Fadila off to her cousin whom he fosters at his house and sends abroad for studies. She rebuffs. Isham returns and his relationship with Fadila is soon rejuvenated. The lady Dr. Bello used in framing Isham asks him for her payment. He refuses and thus she threatens to expose him. And, in the final scene, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) arrests Alhaji Mahdi for an undisclosed crime.

But for a few slips, I would rate the film 4 out of 5. It goes with something a little bit below that score. The blunders responsible for this discredit include the use of pretentious lines in some scenes like where Fadila and Isham first meet. Although it is meant to express love, the language is too flowery and such is barely used for verbal communication. Go and watch even the BBC productions, and you will never come across something similar. This beside, the film breaks a new ground as the first (or second, if you like) Kannywood film completely rendered in English. The grammar is virtually faultless save only in some instances in the subtitle.

All the casts try their best possible in internalizing their lines. It is only the character of El-Mustapha who speaks quite unnaturally. Moreover, the same voice of supposedly the executive producer of the film is used at least three times, by different characters. The dubbing could have been better and more lip-synched had the casts tried even if their English is not polished as such.

And lastly, although Light and Darkness, another film to be released by the same company, is said to be the sequel to There’s a Way, the resolution of the story is at best hanging and at worst outrageous. Having just a sleepless night over a threat, which could be empty, by the lady Dr. Bello hires to frame his victims is so much insufficient as a punishment to him. The same goes to Alhaji Mahdi; his arrest by the EFCC says so little after all his humiliation and sheer disgust of the poor.

The film is about the endurance of the human spirit, true love and the exposition of some social vices in our societies and schools. No doubt, it was technically carefully shot; the cinematography is almost spotless. The lighting appropriately fits the ambiance. The casts, as mentioned earlier, perform very well, especially Isham and the debutant, Fadila, among others. This credit must be shared among all the crew with the director, Falalu Dorayi and the executive producer, Kabiru Jammaje taking plump shares.

Written by:
Muhsin Ibrahim,
Bayero University, Kano
Email: muhsin2008@gmail.com
Twitter: @muhsin234


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Kannywood Movie Review: BASAJA Takun Karshe!

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If you feel like being nitpicky, there’s a whole lot wrong with Falalu Dorayi’s BASAJA TAKUN KARSHE. An angry, motivated person could write multiple reviews ranting its logical inconsistencies and less than expert structure without ever repeating himself. But what’s the point when the movie is actually kind of enjoyable? In spite of its choppy storytelling, BASAJA TAKUN KARSHE has more than its share of likability. It may be stand close scrutiny but most people will leave the cinema smiling. And that has to be considered a success.

Title: BASAJA TAKUN KARSHE.

Production: Dorayi Film.

Writer: Ibrahim Birniwa.

Producer: Tahir I Tahir.

Director: Adam A Zango.

Cast: Adam A Zango, Hadiza Aliyu Gabon, A’isha Aliyu Tsamiya, Shu’aibu Lawan Kumurchi, Ali Nuhu, Fati KK, Zainab Indomie, Mustapha Naburaska.

BASAJA has expanded into a money-spinning, lucrative franchise and it gets larger in terms of scale: the budgets are getting monstrous, the star power, collosal. The third installment, BASAJA TAKUN KARSHE, driven by a story that, well, just likes the idea of being smart, pits a squad of three down-on-their-luck cops into a cat-and-mouse game with the con perfectionist, Adams A Zango, who pulls off a series of frauds against mostly corrupt business leaders and politicians while consistently staying one step ahead of the authority.

If you look at the movie as an escapist fare where you go “my brains off”, you will be fine. Frankly, BASAJA TAKUN KARSHE sort of delivers everything you anticipated. The motive is to offer unbashed entertainment and the movie thrives completely in this endeavor. In its better moments, it’s able to tread the line between exaggeration and absurdity to produce maximum thrill.

In its worse moments, it’s a bit of a hot mess. In addition to spending time on the wrong side of the absurdity line believing to be much smarter than it really is, scattered plot elements are thrown in that feel alien and unneeded thrusting the plot into chaos. In the downside of things, the movie borrows ideas from previous installments.

BASAJA TAKUN KARSHE is kept afloat by its witty dialogue and smoothly charismatic performance by Adam A Zango and Hadiza Aliyu Gabon. Special credit goes to the producers for its extravagant production design. The music is highly effective. The costumes are upmarket. The editing is admirable. The background score is fair, though too loud atimes. The camera work is outright mediocre. However, the saving grace is the vibrant picturization. Overall, the production is recommendable.

BASAJA TAKUN KARSHE is cool, enjoyable, formula-driven stuff designed to self-replicate into a series- and there’s nothing wrong with that. Bring on BASAJA GIDAN FURSINA.

 

Reviewed by: Anas Abdullahi
Twitter: @a9united1
Email: a9united@gmail.com

Kannywood Movie Review: ‘YA DAGA ALLAH

Far more modest in ambition than most recent releases, and so less bombastic, ‘YA DAGA ALLAH is the most likable Saira Movie this year, even if it’s a tad less substantial and frankly, a touch more redundant.

Production: Saira Movies.

Star Cast: Nafisat Abdullahi, Fati Washa, Ali Nuhu, Sadiq Sani Sani, Aina’u Ade.

Director: Aminu Saira

What’s Good: The cinematography is very nice; actors are earnest; the director’s approach is good.

What’s Bad: The second half isn’t properly thought and executed; Lukman’s character is checkered with misses; unexplained loops.

Plot Summary
‘YA DAGA ALLAH is a story of Mallam (Ali Nuhu) who pushes water truck to sustain his family. An injury to his knee leaves him largely incapacitated to carry out this task. His wife Rabi (Hadiza Muhammad) is pregnant and the only thing capable of preventing him from consigning to the hall of shame is divine intervention.

One fateful evening as he is returning from a hospital (where his wife was previously admitted) to seek for money, he is brought to an abrupt standstill by a baby cry apparently coming from a sealed box by his side. He courageously opens the box to find a baby girl, pool of dollars and a letter that reads: ‘This baby is ours. She has parents like everybody else. Use this money to take care of her.’

He takes the baby home and uses a minute portion of the fortune to settle his wife’s medical bill. When Rabi returns home, she initially regards his account of the baby with suspicion but later finds it sensible. Shamsiyya chiefly called ‘YA DAGA ALLAH by Malam, becomes his silver lining. His miserable life is resurrected by her fortune- a debt Mallam feels would ever be indebted to.

20 years later, Shamsiyya (Nafisat abdullahi) and Mallam’s biological daughter Atika (Fati Washa) are in the middle of adulthood. Shamsiyya develops a more likable personality and subsequently, wins the public as well as Mallam’s affection. Atika’s jealousy and resentment grows to an obsessive when the man she is interested in, Lukman (Sadiq Sani Sadiq) appears to have interest in her sister Shamsiyya. So in an attempt to extinguish Atika’s rage, Ladi reveals the mysterious secret. And although Shamsiyya’s heightened excitement is calmed by realization that she was not an illegitimate child, she begs Mallam to find her true parents and Lukman’s houseserving woman Baba Rabi (Aina’u Ade) is uncovered as her mother.

Script Analysis
The script, written by Yakubu M Kumo, moves with lightness and seriousness of purpose. Kumo creates a remarkable drama with a light suspense and bits of tragedy. Yet the story ending feels somewhat hallow and an overt attempt to get as many details as possible. Just when the movie has audience in its grasp, the script falls to pieces and turns into a female-in-peril situation which is not only improperly developed but also poorly realized.

And while the script is written with a dose of drama and light suspense, the romantic quotient never works. The character who sells the romance, Lukman is never really given any solid development or brought into the heart of the movie.

Lastly, the false narration of the couple that firstly claims Shamsiyya shouldn’t have been written as a footage but just a verbal narration since the event never existed.

Direction
The script written with an unforced ease is directed in the same graceful manner. The production design, the director’s approach and embrace generate a genuine feel and magnetic quality that allow the audience to get lost in the cinematic experience early on.

However, ‘YA DAGA ALLAH which begins life high-mindnessly with great aspiration and elegant scenes, is ultimately taken down by a mix of both predictable maneuverings and occasional lack of focus. The movie ultimately slows down, but it does so like a talented athlete who strayed from his game plan. As the story picks up stream, the suspense and the climax suddenly fall in place without audience investing much in exercising their brain.

Early clues revealing Baba Rabi’s identity is pointlessly offered which makes the second half ‘predictable’. More often than not, big questions are not answered, like: How that letter ended up being in the box and whereabouts of Baba Rabi’s parents or even relatives. Another choice that is questionable is how Ladi remains the same for opposite sides of 20 years. Finally, the movie’s conclusion is incredibly half-hearted.

Star Performances
The long list of things that work better than you might expect has to start with Fati Washa whose performance as an obsessive and temperamental sister adds a lot of flair and fun to the story. As a testament to how good amicably the cast’s performance is: you have to dig deep in Ali Nuhu’s back catalogue to find a single performance as affecting and well-judged as the one he delivers- which is a big deal!

In the same light, Nafisat Abdullahi expresses pure emotional honesty, that’s to say, entire unconned by false sentiment or sharp, overmanipulative acting. The only person that stands away from the pack is Saddiq Sani Sadiq. While there is nothing to criticize from his performance, he isn’t exactly given a ton of material to work with.

Production
If nothing else, the production is wonderful. Every aspect of it is at worst, nice. The cinematography is very nice. The sound, score, editing, sets and costumes are all good.

The Last Words
Like any piece of art, ‘YA DAGA ALLAH has its shortcomings. However, the director’s style and the strong performance by the cast have given it enough juice to truly pull off its own premise. And while it’s not the greatest Saira movie to date, it manages to stomp through the theater in an altogether entertaining and enjoyable fashion.

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Written by: Anas Abdullahi
Twitter:@a9united1
Email: a9united@gmail.com

Movie Review: SAI A LAHIRA

Director: Yaseen Auwal
Producer: Umar S. K/Mazugal
Cast: Ali Nuhu, Jamila Nagudu, Yakubu Muhammad, Ishaq Sidi Ishaq Tijjani Asase, Ladi Muhammad, Sani Sk

Imagine the emotional trauma when 20 years of life was stolen from you, imagine the suffering when you suddenly got separated from your pregnant wife and your parents for something you haven’t done or have an idea what it is… That’s what happened in UK Entertainment’s Sai A Lahira

Faruk (Ali Nuhu) was so happy on one fateful night because his beloved wife Na’ima (Jamila Nagudu) is pregnant that he went out at 11pm to buy her a fish as a gift, he barely stepped outside his house when he got captured by some prison authorities and sentenced to life imprisonment for charges of rape and attempted murder. Faruk did all what he can to tell them ‘bani bane’ (A phrase which later became his name in the prison) but the prison authorities turned a deaf ear to his plea.

Na’ima who incidentally saw him taken away ran to Faruk’s parents and told them what happened. They searched for Faruk everywhere from that day but they couldn’t find him. He’s vanished without a trace. Faruk’s parents and Na’ima were devastated. Na’ima later gave birth to a baby girl. Faruk’s parents assumed he’s dead and insisted that Na’ima should get married and continue with her life. Na’ima also insisted that her husband wasn’t dead but she had to succumb to their demand and 4 years later, she got married to Rufa’i (Yakubu Muhammad)

Meanwhile Faruk didn’t survive the emotional anguish and distress from the separation in the prison so much so that he suffered a depression disorder. All he could say was ‘bani bane’, a phrase which made him popular among the inmates. Accidentally, a thief inmate who once attempted stealing from him recognizes Faruk. He went and told Faruk’s parents about it after his release. When Rufa’i learns that Faruk was alive, he did all he can to find out how it happened. He discovered that Faruk was snatched by a corrupt head of Jajare Prison, CSP Bukar (Ishaq Sidi Ishaq) in a much larger conspiracy involving another inmate. Rufa’i did what he could to bring Faruk back home. Only that 20 years had gone, he’s lost his work, education and Na’ima had two more children with Rufa’i…. That set up a very emotional and heartfelt reunion and a dilemma between Faruk and Rufa’i with Na’ima at the center of it.

This is all seem like a clichéd plot but like most films written by Yakubu M Kumo, this one is also very well written with lovely emotional lines. Not only that, the director’s handling of the script is magnificent.

The film was set around 1993 when newly married bride rooms were decorated mostly with furniture. Na’ima’s room isn’t different, the chairs, the “Jeren ‘yar cotonou”, the curtains and even Na’ima and Faruk’s pictures hanging on the wall looked old. Rufa’i has an old vespa instead of the more recently used motorcycles like Kasea etc. Other settings such as the prison and their activities is perfect. For that, credit must go to Yaseen Auwal, his attention to detail is really impressive.

The performances in Sai A Lahira are superb and everyone plays their parts well. The lead characters invite your sympathy and attention that you might forgive Some of its flaws; like how Na’ima’s hair attachment remain the same throughout the film or how it’s so easy to treat depression disorder in a couple of hours or the fact that Ali Nuhu’s hair and beard was overdone that it looked artificial….

In a year when the industry is lacking enough good movies, Sai A Lahira inject enough faith for viewers to cheer it on. And it’s worth every penny of your purchase!

By: Ibrahim Umar Bello
Twitter: @aaramz

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DA KAI ZAN GANA Review: Style over Substance

Movie: DA KAI ZAN GANA.
Production: 2 EFFECTS EMPIRE.
Screenplay: Ibrahim Y Birniwa, Sadiq Mafia.
Director: Sadiq Mafia

Cast: Sani Danja, Yakubu Muhammad, Zaharadeen Sani, Rahma Sadau, Hadiza GAbon, Ladidi Fagge

You know the old phrase about not having too many cooks in the kitchen! DA KAI ZAN GANA ignores it. It is more than four hours of material crammed into measly two hours. “Too much” is what DA KAI ZAN GANA is in nearly everyway- too much characters, too much exposition, too much busy plot. The only thing that’s not too much is characters worth caring about, in fact, there’s none of these at all. There’s little time for larger messages or subtlety on this train hurtling through and destroying Africa. But again, that’s not necessary a bad thing.

A movie needs to know its goals. It needs to decide such things ahead of time and let the mission dictate what it includes and what it leaves on the cutting room floor. It should have a very good idea of itself. DA KAI ZAN GANA chooses dancing over walking, movie cliches over realism, style over substance. Yet, somehow it feels entirely in keeping its idea of fun.

We meet our protagonist Rahama (Rahma Sadau) in an effort to break into the city one late evening. She has little idea where she is going. She is trying to free herself out of the corner her mother in the village is trying to back her into: marrying her out to wealthy Mamuda (Ubale Ibrahim). Driving in his car from outskirt of the city, a lusty womanizer Faruq (Zaharadeen Sani) sees her and decides things could fall into place if he presses the right button. He offers to take her to the town and somehow utilises this avenue to steal her virginity. Used and dumbed, Rahama is then picked by a wanton Maimuna who promises to take care of her. So when another womanizer Mudassir (Yakubu Muhammad) desires a company of a woman to be supplied by his friend Auwal Isah West, the wanton offers Rahama to Auwal. She is told she is only to deliver a message back to her boss Maimuna and of course she is the delivery package. She is subsequently drugged and raped by Mudassir. Unknown to Mudassir, his friend Auwal has taken a footage of scene.

Now that life is done conspiring against her, Rahama meets a decent woman who happens to be from a very influential family. Rahama is injected with a life and is educated. After few years she appears smarter than most high-society folks. A wild coincidence winds her up Abdallah (Sani Danja). Pressurised by his parents to get married, Abdallah is on a desperate hunt for a wife. His previous four girlfriends, as the movie chronicles their issues in flashbacks, hadn’t yielded a fiancee. The favorite of the four Fati KK was dead, and the other three (I will spare you the details) were discarded for various reasons.

When Rahama answers Sani’s invitation to his house, she is confronted by his two brothers Mudassir and Faruq- who had previously raped her. She runs out of the house. Abdullah later learns of her past and decides to cut the relationship prematurely. The script then softens her story’s sharpest edges and remolds her as a woman on a desperate and confounding path of revenge. Auwal sells the video clip he had taken of Mudassir’s dirty deed to Rahama for five million naira. She destroys Mudassi’s proposed marriage with Hadiza Gabon. He gets another relationship, she destroys it. And althought Faruq’s fiancee remains unmoved by her blackmail, she manages to get at him by causing termination of his ambassadorship with one international organization. The whole production suddenly shrugs its shoulders- kills both Faruq and Mudassir in a car accident- and walks away into credits sequence as if to say “we just couldn’t think of anything else.”

So you see, DA KAI ZAN GANA can’t decide whether it’s a thriller with little romance mixed in or a formulaic romantic-comedy with one or two dramatic pieces. Thanks to its constant wavering and lack of clear-cut direction, it whiffs on both potential premises. It lacks the gusto of romance and flair of a thriller. While its thriller premise fails because it fails at weaving together a compelling story, instead creating a meandering epic without any sense of escalation, its romantic premise fails because it suffocates the joy that should be inherent in a romance.

Despite the larger than life influence, it’s never self-aware enough to realise how juvenile and immature its sense of time and visions of reality are. Even a cursory examination of its story specifics reveals gaping plotholes and confusing character motivation. Why would a decent woman detain a girl who escaped from her in a village instead of sending her back. Why would a reasonable man pay a woman 15 million naira for marriage preparation when she isn’t even formally introduced to his family. Why would someone prepare a drugged juice to knock a woman off when he expects a prostitute. Why, why, why.

As far as I can tell, the characters have no above-average personality. None of the four leads is given enough detail or motivation. If it cared about its lead characters a little more, we might actually get invested in their lifes. Luckily, so many actresses are barely in the movie. Unfortunately barely is too much since they add nothing to it. It’s as if someone wrote the script, and then another one suddenly discovered there weren’t enough of them, so another writer was brought to randomly toss them in the show.

DA KAI ZAN GANA’s production values prevent it from being a total sentimentalist soup. The picture, the sound, the editing, camera angles and costumes are qualitative. and though it never really connects, the humor and the pacing is enough to get you to the end unscathered. DA KAI ZAN GANA could be a pretty sweet movie, but it is slowed down by more than its share of ill-advised congestion

DA KAI ZAN GANA is mostly an unfortunate case of reality against its protagonist. If it were a good movie, it would be an unfortunate case of reality against art.

Reviewed by: Anas Abdullahi
Twitter : @a9united1

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Movie Review: MUNAFIKIN MATA

Writer Yakubu M Kumo and director Aminu Saira have made a name crafting complex story-driven dramas. For their latest collaboration MUNAFIKIN MATA, they took on some new challenge, offering their most reliable man Ali Nuhu an optimistic and manipulative character. The results are intriguing, and a times fascinating.

First thing first, MUNAFIKIN MATA marks an official re-union of actress Nafisat Abdullahi with director Aminu Saira and actor Ali Nuhu after series of events. She holds an ace up her sleeve: she is a talented actress. By chance or by intent, she landed this one. Suddenly, she is set to feature in FKD’s next project SIRRIN DAKE RAINA(with another upcoming talent, Rahma Sadau) and SAIRAMOVIES’ YA DAGA ALLAH. Coincidence? I think not. Her performance here is effortless and grounded. She is never looked more convincing as human. Now whether or not you thought these and her few extra pounds have anything to do with her new emotional freedom …er… Save that for another story.

MUNAFIKIN MATA tells a tale of Khamees (Ali NUhu) and his two wives Nafisat Abdullahi and Maryam Gidado. To Khamees, the only way he could sustain a peaceful and stable home is to make each of his wives feel superior. This he does by praising each in her presence and mocking the other not-around wife tagging their(with the absentee) relationship as “godly punishment.” In bringing Khamees to life, Ali deftly creates a character that is manipulative and later, lonely but never in the exaggerated Kannywood way we often see portrayed. It’s the actor’s evolution as he weaves through the ever-changing dynamics of his relationships with his wives that allows him to prove his talent. His real presence and performance makes the film’s unique premise work.

In an era where filmmakers prefer their movies with twinge of darkness and irony that mostly end up getting so confused and lost within themselves desperately trying to convince audience, abusing their intelligence and wasting their time in doing so, A.S Mai Kwai keeps reminding us that there’s nothing wrong with shallow entertainment and MUNAFIKIN MATA is buoyant enough to deliver. So yes! Mai Kwai Movies are not high art, but they have fun characters and stories to tell and the stars are often invested in his movies. In a way, they comment on society and say something about the human condition and then get out of the way so you can get on with your life.

Come on! We are all tired of bunch of cliche life advice from an old guy that appears for no reason and forced “emotional” moments that attempt to trick us into thinking the movie is real, written by humans and everything. Luckily, refusing to fall prey to the kind of over-plotting and melodrama that have been the hallmark of kannywood, Yakubu M Kumo replaced all that with witty and smart script.

MUNAFIKIN MATA isn’t a bunch of great characters in a weak script, not a good idea with no where to go, not an advertisement for some upcoming movie connection but a fun little family movie. Aminu Saira’s approach to the material is outstanding. Everything seems human and not with the kind of raw tension you get from over-dramatised, unnecessarily energized movie.

If I have any complaint against MUNAFIKIN MATA, it will be that characters are not fully developed. For example, had Nafisat and Maryam Gidado given an un-identical personality to work side-by-side with Ali Nuhu, the film would have turned out different. The movie never attempts to work any harder than it has to. It leans too much on its culturally-established characters.

The old saying goes that love of money is the root of all evil. It’s a principle that movies seem to embrace, but in the end often abandon in favor of some predictable plot shifts. The moral is applied in MUNAFIKIN MATA for the makers didn’t attempt to drag it with a big, pointy teeth! And it is no surprise to see that it retains its cinematic legitimacy. A.S Mai Kwai earns his tons of gorgeous white with a movie meant to be enjoyed just for the fun of it.

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Movie Review: SABUWAR SANGAYA

Director: Aminu Saira
Producer: Mukhtar Young Boy
Language:Hausa
Year: 2014
Company: Kabugawa Production, Kano

Background
Only a few of the Kannywood productions, especially in these days, attract the attention of the audience and a fewer are awaited before their release. Sabuwar Sangaya scored both credits. This is however apparently connected to its title affinity with the famous film with a similar title: Sangaya, and whose song of the same name became a landmark success for both the Hausa filmmakers and the film-making industry. The ‘old’ Sangaya was produced by the recently revived studio, Sarauniya Production and directed by Aminu Muhammad Sabo, an erstwhile leading figure in Kannywood. But does this ‘new’ Sangaya satiate the thirst of the audience? Does it meet their expectation? Will it follow on the path of its ‘elder brother’? Here is what I think.

Plot
Sabuwar Sangaya is basically a romantic-horror film. Set in remote Fulani clusters, it begins with the much hyped Rahama Sadau as Jimmala and the soft-spoken Sadiq Sani Sadiq as Jimrau being chased by some lightly armed men. The duos are on a mission to elope, for their marriage proposal is denied by the father of Jimmala. He is of the belief that his aspiring son-in-law was not a legitimate son of his father as Jimrau’s mother was abducted and allegedly raped on their wedding day. Eventually destiny takes the lovebirds to a nearby plague-ridden village, which is suffering from an uncommon virus of a deadly witchcraft. The affected villagers behave in a vampiric manner, hungrily sucking the blood of their fellows and eating their flesh. A single bite transfers the disease, hence it is widely spreading.

Consequently, anyone infected is decreed by the stern Village Head to summarily face death penalty. The judgment is carried-out without prejudice or sympathy, for both his confidante and his witch-hunting son are executed in the process. Jimmala gets afflicted in the hunt of one predator she had a nightmare of. They therefore quickly fled, missing their parents who have just located their children’s hideout. The local vigilantes sent after them are unlucky as the escapees have gone very far away. At night, they meet an old, fugitive boat rider near a river who unhesitatingly assists them by misleading the vigilante personnel. He afterwards boats them off the coast, and gives them mattresses to sleep on. Although Jimmala had lunch earlier with her first prey, a Fulani milk hawker who offered them help, her thirst for blood grows again. The following morning, Jimrau wakes up and finds her having an early breakfast with the old man.

Jimrau, now shockingly furious, lambastes her. Jimmala becomes enraged and despaired, and therefore attempts to drown herself, but he averts it. They roam for awhile, and her desire for blood intensifies once again. After a fruitless, repetitive offer of himself for her meal, which she narrowly refuses out of affection, he leaves to find water for her. He returns and meets an empty space, and later following a rigorous search, finds her surrounded by policemen, who are called for from the city. She bites him. At the end, they both are cured in the city hospital, and the rest of the village dwellers are immunized. Jimrau and Jimmala finally marry and live happily ever after.

Critique
The title of the film is confusing: while it was/is Sabuwar Sangaya on its posters and in the advertisements, it is differently written as Sabon Sangaya in the film’s opening credits. Obviously, a little careful scrutiny would have corrected this elementary misprint. Similarly, audience might have been wondering why the film was named Sabuwar Sangaya, for it’s not a pastiche, revaluation or revision of the ‘Tsohon’ Sangaya, save the similar Fulani portrayal. Though that is, and should, not be a problem. However, while the other Sangaya remains dear to the audience for more than a decade, only time shall decide the fate of this one due to, among other possible reasons, the following:

(1). The bedrock of the storyline is the mundane motif of forced marriage, an over-flogged theme especially in Hausa films. Many screenwriters demystify and de-familiarize the phenomenon via a number of ways. Although this one has also tried reshaping the plot, it however remains flat—two persons love each other, and their parents raise objection; they later overcome the obstacle, get married and live happily ever after.

(2). Traditionally and as a widely accepted norm, the villain always gets punished as the consequence of his misdeed unto others, but not in Sabuwar Sangaya. We can unmistakably describe the character of Jimmala as the circumstantial villain for killing two obliging, innocent people. Yet she gets away scot-free and more.

(3). The graphic work and the composition, the cutting, the framing and, above all, the editing are somewhat flops:

a. Jimmala is shown gobbling the innards of her first prey and the victim is cleanly lying. Spoiling her Fulani attire shouldn’t be an issue of concern. The same goes with other gory scenes.

b. Body contact among the opposite sexes is disallowed, according to Islamic principles, in any film; however avoiding that remains a difficult task. Thus a careful and painstaking job is carried out to edge this out before the release of the film. But the viewers of Sabuwar Sangaya could obviously see such instances in a number of scenes—the first scene, on the bank of the river, at the hospital, etc.

c. It’s very implausible for the lanky looking lady like Jimmala to overpower Baba Sogiji, murders him and devours his flesh without a any commotion that could awake Jimrau. Any film, or story, worth its salt should suspend much, if not all, forms of disbelief.

Verdict
This skeletal review was motivated for the film’s being a work of the “Best Director” of the Industry. Second, many fans of Kannywood had longed for long to watch the film as mentioned earlier. It’s with unsolicited sincerity I want to add that the ‘mighty’ Aminu Saira’s also recently released film, Birnin Masoya shows, to an extent, the “eloquent” director’s lapses, and his virtuosity diminishes. The film is filled with disjointed scenes and fragmented storyline. According to the auteur theory, the director is to be praised or blamed for the success or otherwise of any film ala an author for his book’s accomplishment or disappointment.

Besides, the overall judgment on Sabuwar Sangaya is that: although the film has come with a new genre in Kannywood similar to the Hollywood’s vampiric-horror movies, it however lacks an appropriate conclusion and convincing artistic composition. However, the picture and the sound quality are good. Again, it’s though observable some characters fake their Fulani accent in their speeches, the performance of the leading actors and a few others is realistic. The film may well be accepted for its much publicity, song and dance routine and the novelty of its thematic presentation in addition to the title issue. However, it could have garnered more crowns had the director polished it the more.

Reviewed by:
Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim,
Dept. of English and Literary Studies,
Bayero University, Kano; muhsin2008@gmail.com

Movie Review: Duniyar Nan

In Nasir Gwangwazo’s “Duniyar Nan” Najif (Yakubu Muhammad) found himself accused of two murders; one, his wife and the other, his sister in law’s fiancé. Although he denied both charges, the evidence against him are impossible to refute especially in the eyes of the police and his wife’s sister Bahijja (Ummi El Abdul).

The problem arises when Najif started lusting after Bahijja, who’s staying with them. Bahijja knew there bound to be problems, so she left the house only to be returned a day later against her wish because her parents insisted. We saw her telling Najif after she came back that what he’s trying to do is stupid and they can’t be together if her sister Surayya (Hadiza Gabon) is alive. “What if she’s dead?” He replied.

And when Najif cannot control his sexual desires any longer, he started sneaking in to Bahijja’s room at night. Eventually his wife caught them. Two days later, she was found dead in their bed room.

Interestingly, Bahijja’s parents did what most parents may likely do. Marrying her to Najif so she can take care of her sister’s children. But she was already engaged to Kabir (Ali Nuhu). They explained the wisdom behind their decision to Kabir but he refused to agree. He was found dead the next day at the golf club minutes after an argument with Najif.

The film starts off intriguingly well and it’s racy enough to hold your attention. There were scattered clues that will make you guessing who the killer is until the very end. The seven actors of Ali, Danja etc fit perfectly in the film. Credit must go to the director the way the characters are cleverly etched. This is helped immensely by a very good script from the writer.

Yet, the film cannot avoid the usual traps; for a film of this storyline, one song -which Surayya and Najif did-would have been enough. The other two were only there to stretch the running time of the movie. As a debutant, Ali Gumzak should have made sure Ummi El Abdul is well prepared before casting her in the film. She displays ample lack of ability throughout the film. Surayya didn’t offer much resistance when she was getting murdered, making the scene looked not real. You’d thought the killer would make a mess of it but he walked away without a single bloodstain on his hands or cloth and what are the chances that he’d leave the murder weapon behind after killing her?

Nitpicking aside, “Duniyar Nan” is a thoroughly charming film, brought alive by some great writing and some stellar performances. This one is definitely worth watching.

Reviewed by: Ibrahim Umar Bello
Email: iubello50@yahoo.com
Twitter: @aaramz

Movie Review- Gaba Da Gabanta

Can’t someone come up with a screenwriting software that signals when a script has made the fatal slop from a hyped up suspense to sheer ludicrousness?

Na’ima (Hafsat Bauchi) is a married woman who wants to get back at her husband Alh Hamza (Tahir Fagge) for destroying her dream of having many children. So with persistence and intimidation she persuaded Ukasha (Adam A Zango) to kidnap her only daughter. Coincidentally for Ukasha, who’s unemployed and in desperate need of money to save his dying mother, Naima’s husband is the reason why he’s unemployed. He agreed to do the job only to find out that he’s put himself in real trouble because Na’ima didn’t keep up her end of the bargain.

Can you go to a job interview without any credentials? Yes, according to the movie. Now the big question; Is kidnapping very easy? Yes, according to the movie. For someone who’s a rookie, Ukasha made the entire kidnapping process looked effortless. He waited for the girl at the entrance of the primary school and picked her up easily without anyone seeing him. What’s more comical is how the 7 year old girl comfortably stayed with him, a total stranger, for a day or two in the bush without for once crying for her parents. You’d thought she’s staying with her favourite aunt. And although it’s all her plan, Na’ima didn’t for once looked like a mother whose child was kidnapped. You’d thought she would look distraught to make the plan water tight but rather only making sad faces whenever she’s on the camera. Alh Hamza’s handling of the situation is also somewhat far-fetched.

Despite some bizarre situations that are impossible to make sense of, for a good hour or so, you might say Gaba Da Gabanta is going ‘Ok’. However, the scripts falls to pieces and turns to a crass in the end. Considering it’s only 58 minutes long (including trailers), the part 3 is more or less about some men in suits, overdoing almost everything- chasing after Ukasha. The rest of the film plays out predictably and instead of upping up the ante, the director waste time on unnecessary scenes and delays the inevitable conclusion.

In dealing with a tricky story line that involves kidnapping, Kamal S Alkali and his team has obviously put in minimal effort in making Gaba Da Gabanta and they don’t expect audience to exercise their brains either.

Reviewed by: Ibrahim Umar Bello
Twitter: @aaramz

TSUMAGIYA REVIEW: It misses the point

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
Twitter: @a9united1