By Habibu Maaruf Abdu
Since its inception, the Hausa film industry, aka Kannywood, has not been cinema-oriented. This is primarily due to the filmmakers’ lack of technology to make cinema-compliant productions and the negative perceptions of the cinemas by the industry’s immediate/target audience (the Muslim Hausa populace). Therefore, video film media (i.e. cassettes and CDs) became the cinema equivalent in Kannywood and remained its sole market. However, the industry later crashed after the scourge of piracy and the emergence of online video-viewing platforms, like Youtube, forced those video film media out of business.
Subsequently, many reputable production companies had to close shop or remain practically inactive. In contrast, some low-class and Chamama (comedy) producers kept on as their films are mostly cheaply made and targeted the masses who are less conscious of modern viewing facilities. It was until the establishment of Filmhouse Cinema at the Kano Shoprite that the film business starts sprouting up again. Big budgeted Kannywood movies, made with state-of-the-art technology, began to overflow the only multiplex cinema.
Also, as people accept and patronise the cinema more, comes a realisation of the need to enhance film shows. Thus, the industry signed a deal with some cinema owners in Kano to show some selected films during the 2018 Eid festival. However, there is a more profound development recently. Platinum, another multiplex cinema for screening Kannywood movies, was opened in Kano.
The emergence of these multiplex cinemas is a welcome development for Kannywood. We all know that it’s on the cinemas that film industries stand. If the mighty Hollywood and Bollywood, for instance, still retain cinemas as the prime platforms for releasing their films, there is no other way for the embattled yet up-and-coming film industry. TV stations and online platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime, iRokoTV, Northflix, etc.) should be more beneficial for the audience in Diaspora, as proposed by a Kannywood scholar, Muhsin Ibrahim.
In addition, it’s high time we disregarded our anachronistic views against cinemas. These newly opened cinemas are, after all, modern and standard for all and sundry. Nor is it for thugs and whores. There is no smoking and drugs. They are multiplex, with each room having stylishly arranged rows of comfortable padded seats. They are peaceful places to get entertained and have fun in a completely different way from the open-air, single-screens we had before.
Our religious clerics should stop denouncing these cinemas. They should, instead, promote Kannywood in general for more decent and educated people to join the industry. Their bashings, often based on unfounded rumours, will never help matters. Kannywood has come to stay, and it’s better to have them in Kano, a more Islamic state, for the government to regulate their activities than elsewhere.
Finally, I emphasise what Muhsin Ibrahim suggests to our big men: instead of building a state of the art filling stations all around Kano, why don’t they construct cinema(s)? The market is there. They should conduct some feasibility research and invest in this business.
Habibu Maaruf Abdu writes from Kano, Nigeria. He can be reached at email@example.com.