(168): Top 7 Kannywood series of 2023
Muhsin Ibrahim & Habibu Ma’aruf
As 2023 draws to a close, the closure of Kano Filmhouse Cinema is one of Kannywood’s most regrettable events in the outgoing year. Consequently, there was a significant decline in the number of cinematic releases. Nevertheless, amid this setback, a silver lining emerged as it spurred a notable shift towards series films, with prominent producers and directors venturing into the evolving market.
From Labarina, Alaqa, and Manyan Mata to Fatake, Amaryar Tiktok and Gidan Sarauta, Kannywood’s audience has been captivated by numerous enthralling TV and web series. While the series market faces criticism for potentially fostering second-rate productions, the following list highlights the best seven series films aired in the year. Please note that the numbering is not hierarchical.
Labarina stands out as a household name among Hausa film enthusiasts. Despite premiering in 2020, this show’s latest seasons continued to be highly popular in 2023. It tells the story of Sumayya (Nafisa Abdullahi/Fati Washa) as she evolves from a humble daughter to a successful singer. She, meanwhile, navigates a complex love life with numerous suitors, prominently Mahmoud (Nuhu Abdullahi), Lukuman (Yusuf Saseen), and Presido/Aliyu (Isah Feroz Khan). The storyline also introduces other engaging characters, such as the avaricious Baba Dan Audu, his friend Rabe, the lovesick Ummi, Raba-Gardama, etc. However, despite experiencing a brief moment of dullness, the series has recently regained momentum, shifting to a fresh, gripping tale with a new cast. It’s a must-watch series full of intriguing drama. The actors’ performances are also impressive. Aminu Saira directed it, while Naziru Sarkin Waka and Nazifi Asnanic are the producers. Other casts include Teema Yola, Sadiq Sani Sadiq, Fatima Hussain, Amina Rani, etc.
Directed by Ali Nuhu, FKDs Alaqa certainly attracts a big following. It generates tons of buzz and often trends on social media. This is due to its compelling narrative that leaves viewers eagerly guessing what happens in the next episode. The series follows Alhaji Saleh Alfindiki’s family, entangled in familial discord and a longstanding feud with a formidable rival, Audu Luluwa (Sadiq Ahmad). Alh. Alfindiki (Tahir Fagge) aspires to pass on his legacy through his sons, Nameer (Ramadan Booth) and Hisham (Shamsu Dan Iya). However, while Nameer embodies a calm demeanour, Hisham is a bit wayward. Audu Luluwa, therefore, takes advantage of Hisham’s weakness, and so much follows. The film has an exceptional plot with superb dialogue. The cinematography, costumes, and performance of the actors are also impressive. Other casts include Zikrullah Abubakar, Auwal Isah West, Teema Makamashi, Mommy Gombe, etc.
3. Manyan Mata
The much-talked-about Manyan Mata, directed by Sadiq N. Mafia, is an issue-based social drama mainly about poverty, human rights, children and women empowerment. It premiered to a positive response on February 4, 2023, and has since garnered widespread acceptance. The series uses a dynamic approach to tackle the menace of Almajirci, poor parenting, and child and domestic abuse. Through the portrayal of Laila (played by Hadiza Gabon), the series underlines the importance of girl-child education and NGOs like ‘Manyan Mata Foundation’ in developing public empathy for the social issues that weigh us down as a society. Thanks to the producer, Abdul Amart, the series features all the leading Kannywood actors and actresses, such as Ali Nuhu, Rabi’u Rikadawa, Adam A. Zango, Sadiq Sani Sadiq, Fati Washa, Jamila Nagudu, Hadiza Gabon, Mommy Gombe, Aisha Humaira, etc. Its second season, which runs when writing this review, was directed by three people, including the late Aminu S. Bono.
Fatake is undeniably one of the preeminent dramas of 2023, primarily due to its grand scale. It claims to be the first Kannywood series filmed internationally, featuring a collaborative cast of Nigerian, Ghanaian and Nigerien stars. The love story mainly concerns Fatima (Amina Umar), a young Ghanaian lady grappling with an identity crisis and her suitors. Doubtless, the film is captivating. It is skillfully produced with rich substance rather than negligible style. No wonder the series quickly became sensational. All the actors also perform wonderfully, especially the ace actor, Sadiq Sani Sadiq and the debutante Ghanaian, Amina Umar, who plays the leading female role with utmost conviction. The credit goes to the director, Yaseen Auwal; the producer, Umar UK; the writers, Rahama A. Majib; and other crew members.
5. Zaman Aure; Amaryar TikTok
This popular family drama is arguably one of the most topical Kannywood series. It addresses the leading factors contributing to marital challenges today. The storyline centres on Sule (Ahmad A. Bifa) and Humair (Aisha Usman). They are married but have a different understanding of marriage itself. Sule initially opposes his wife’s involvement in TikTok and civil service, leading to twists and turns in their journey together. The film is supremely meaningful with serious, contemporary thematic preoccupation. It authentically captures the complexities of marital life, exploring the factors that often lead men to remarry. The actors make it more interesting by giving a realistic performance. The fact that all its recent episodes crossed 100k views on YouTube qualified it to be on this list. It’s produced and directed by the leading character, Ahmad A. Bifa.
Directed by Hassan Giggs, Kishiyata YouTube-based series premiered in 2022 but continues to reign in popularity and impact today, securing it a place on this list. As the name implies, it revolves around the rivalry between co-wives in at least three households, who frequently go to odd and dangerous sorcerers to defeat the other woman or get their husband’s favours. The drama’s theatrics and often intriguing turns of events attract viewers, especially women. For instance, a man marries his son’s in-law ex-wife while sisters fatally struggle over the relationship of their kids. Particular incidents in several episodes have trended on social media, which has become a signpost to measure films’ popularity or lack thereof. Actors, such as Lawan Ahmad and Tijjani Faraga, who are already stars, Maryam Muhammad (alias Malika) and Samha M. Inuwa, among others, do so well in the exciting drama.
7. Dan Jarida
The Dan Jarida series was directed by Hafiz Bello and produced by the “King of Kannywood Box Office”, Bashir Maishadda. It aims to uncover corrupt politicians who resort to any means possible, including bribing, torturing or even murdering their opponents and journalists, to win elections. It assembles old and new, famous and rising actors and actresses. Although the story may confuse many viewers due to several flashbacks, the drama has been popular and arguably successful. The many stars it has put in one place, among other reasons, must have made its relative success possible. Several members of Kannywood have aggressively promoted it on social media. Moreover, it shows on Arewa24.