(88): Kannywood Movie Review: Husna ko Huzna


Director:         Falalu A. Dorayi
Producer:       Tahir I. Tahir
Story:              M.M. Haruna
Language:      Hausa
Year:               2017
Company:      M.M. Haruna Film Production, Kano

Introduction
The film Husna ko Huzna comes with quite some novelties. Notably, it was not hurriedly produced, as were many movies in the Kannywood film industry. I remember being told of its pre-production and production phases almost a year ago. The post-production, too, took an unconventional period before it was finished. This is replete in handling the special effects (VFX) used in the film. The advertorial is yet another well-planned thing, for every now and then, listeners of different radio stations in Kano, and probably beyond, were informed about the film. Unlike other films, the voiceover adds a freebie to prospective viewers: the film was carefully subtitled in Standard English. Many viewers would not expect anything short of this as the executive producer cum screenwriter, M.M. Haruna, is a well-known English teacher in Kano. 

Plot Summary
(Warning: this section contains spoilers)
The semi-horror fantasy film is old wine in a new bottle; it repackages a typical love triangle story. Husna (Jamila Nagudu) and Abdul (Adam A. Zango) are set to wed. At the same time, a certain kola-nut and groundnut hawking lady, Huzna (Fati Washa), tries everything possible to stop that from happening as she profoundly loves Abdul. She does everything and follows him everywhere, but he, time after time, rebuffs her. There was a time when his friend and his other friends beat her up to deter her from bothering her heartthrob.

It eventually appears that Huzna is a genie. Her schemes nearly break the duo’s relationship midway through the film. It takes Husna’s mother and their friends’ assistance and insistence for them to patch up. Tired of the drama, one day, Husna steals a deadly chemical from their school laboratory and pours it on Huzna’s face, not knowing that she is not human. However, Huzna turns up at their house the next day to avenge the attack. After several pleas,  Huzna ‘murders’ her rival by possessing her soul. 

After several failed attempts to woo Abdul, Huzna is goaded into violent action; she kills a guy who attempts to offer her a ride and then Abdul’s friend who beat her earlier. In Husna’s form, Huzna arranges with fellow genies to bring her to the former’s house. They cooked up a story that she was not dead when they buried her. Husna’s parents grudgingly accept their ‘reincarnated’ daughter. Soon afterwards, nonetheless, her nocturnal, bizarre behaviours give her away. They eventually discover her real identity. She kills the mother for that and nearly kills the father, too, but for the appearance of a more powerful genie.

Huzna is betrothed to the genie for the past 600 years; however, she chooses to marry a human. He, therefore, takes her away. She soon returns to finish Husna’s father. An Islamic cleric exorcises the nurse she possesses to execute her mission at a hospital where he’s receiving treatment. Her engaged genie reappears. He begs the cleric to stop and says that he is also a Muslim and respects the Noble Qur’an. He brings back Husna, who was never killed in the first place, and forcibly takes Huzna away.

Husna and Abdul are finally married. The newlywed couple is preparing to eat when they yet again discover Huzna’s kola nut and other assorted wares on their dining table. They are surprised and shocked to see that. The film ends with a caption: “The struggle begins…”

Critique
The special effects artist of the film did quite well. By and large, and by the Kannywood ‘standard’, the work deserves commendation. The transmogrification of Huzna to Husna or vice versa is swift and superb; the acid scene and the way Huzna stretches her hand and alters her eyeballs when attacking her prey, among other scenes, are equally well crafted. Generally, the finishing leaves little to be desired in a film industry infamous for its dearth of professionals and for producing poor-to-average films like Kannywood.

As with any artwork, Husna ko Huzna is not as impeccable as one might think. The biggest blooper in the film is the M.M. Haruna English Academy scene. The whole scene could, and of course, be either wholly avoided or shown differently. It is unnecessarily lengthy and too detailed, and its idolisation by the actors adds less than minor or no substance to the plot development or the centre in the real world. The thumb rule is that one must not feature in their sponsored movie or covertly advertise their product therein.

Again, the last caption doesn't hold up, for the struggle has begun since the very first scene of the film. The struggle rather continues. That is perhaps what the filmmakers have in mind. The reappearance of Huzna’s stuff in their peaceful, well-furnished house marks the beginning of yet another struggle; while everyone thought that it had ended with the stern warning by the cleric and her eviction from the human world by the senior, more powerful husband-to-be genie.

Verdict
On the whole, Husan ko Huzna is a good piece of work. For most women, the seemingly original story is an edge-of-the-seat semi-horror for its marital tug-of-war over a charming prince motif. All of the actors have done very well, with the performance of the Washa lady occupying the highest position. The film crew, notably the director, followed by the camera team, have also done a praiseworthy job. The angles are carefully selected and taken, the light fits, and so on. I rate it 3.5/5.0. It could be higher but for the insipidness of the love triangle story in Kannywood and the overt, avoidable advertorial of the executive producer’s enterprise.

Reviewed by:
Muhsin Ibrahim
Bayero University, Kano

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