(68): Kannywood Movie Preview: There’s a Way

Production:    Jammaje Productions
Producer:       Abba El-Mustapha
Executive Producer: Kabiru Musa Jammaje
Cast:               Abba El-Mustapha, Nuhu Abdullahi, Sani Mu’azu, Bankaura and others
Director:         Falalu A. Dorayi
Release Date: N/A

A well-known fact to virtually everyone who cares to follow, however marginally, the goings-on in the Hausa film industry aka Kannywood is that it is a haven for amateurish actors and actresses, incompetent directors, antiquated gadgets for production and post-production works, shoestring-budgeted films, trite and frivolous themes in films and many other deficiencies and unmentionable things. But that is neither always the case nor true. There are skilled, even certified actors and actresses, directors, producers, etc that are, nonetheless, largely eclipsed by the poor others who, unfortunately, make the majority. Many people have been bitterly complaining about these issues while some others have lost all interest in Kannywood films for the same reason.

I once wrote an article in which I expressed my serious concern and displeasure on how 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 watching Hausa films end up puzzled, confused. The shoddy subtitle equally exposes, among other things, the educational level of the people in the industry, and by and large, in their region. Worse still, the actors, in other times, use ‘Eng-ausa’, a hotchpotch English-Hausa code-switching and mixing, in their dialogues. The English language is often erroneously used and mispronounced. 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.


The new film entitled There’s a Way shows there is, of course, a way forward for Kannywood. Directed by Falalu Dorayi, one of the bests of the industry, There’s a Way is a star-studded film set and shot in Northwest University, Kano, select mansions and other strategic, picturesque locations in Kano. I have watched only the film trailer of 2 minutes and 41 seconds length, but from the little I was able to draw out of that, the film has a multi-dimensional thematic concern whose preoccupation perhaps is the notorious, despicable behaviour of our university lecturers, specifically their pervasive attitude towards the female students. Other sub-themes include the menace of begging, examination malpractice, student unionism, social cleavage, etc.

The executive director of the film, Kabiru Musa Jammaje, a renowned English teacher, writer and a host of a weekly special English program on Freedom Radio, Kano deserves a particular mention. I am sure he is aware of the ugly fact that film production is not a lucrative business as it outwardly seems due to, chiefly, piracy problem and absence of cinemagoing culture in this part of the world. It is however said that nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thus, his resolution to do it anyway is a bold, yet commendable action, a welcome development and an auspicious undertaking. It tells us – ‘armchair critics’, as we are inaccurately termed – that we should, as we could, do something about what we consider wrong in what we criticize.

Lest you are not aware, rendering film in non-English, indigenous film industries like Kannywood is a common practice around the world. The ace Nigerian filmmaker, Tunde Kelani produces films in both English and his native language of Yoruba. In Bollywood too, Mira Nair is famous for her English films such as Monsoon Wedding (2001), The Namesake (2006), etc.

I am impressed not because of the language used in the film alone, but for the message, the film stands to send across cultures and regions. I hope There’s a Way will not disappoint us. We are eagerly waiting to see how Jammaje’s well-paid and Dorayi’s carefully selected cast, which comprises some famous, veterans like Bankaura, Hauwa Maina among others, will dazzle, entertain and finally educate us through their craftsmanship and expertise.

And, forgive my unconventional preview, readers. Best wishes.

Written by:
Muhsin Ibrahim,
Bayero University, Kano

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