Northern Nigeria’s Hausa film industry, Kannywood, has been at the centre of brainstorming discussions over the years. One of the most interesting is why film consumers are attracted to the industry and otherwise. So often, the analysis of such magnitude is drawn concerning the industry’s foreign and domestic rivals because they provide an alternative to what the industry produces, which directly affects its local market. And like in any other industrial conglomerate, the sustainable conduct and development of Kannywood as an industry thrive on the quality, affordability and viability of its products.
As the so-called king of the arrangement, it’s impossible to conquer any market without exploring the psychological drivers of consumer’s preferences. That said, the primary concern of the teeming film consumers who boycott Kannywood movies revolves around the appeal, quality and uniqueness of storylines and whether it connects with the inner cravings of a modern watcher. A film consumer demands an illusion, one that not only tells him “this is the movie he wants to watch” but also if “it’s the one he should be watching”. An illusion that challenges his status quo creates a reception for the new order and paves the way for a route to escapism. Arguably, many people watch films to escape from their core reality. This occurs either by consuming movies that aim to rediscover an old order. Such order seeks to reflect on the current order or ones that wish to rewrite the order itself in the forms of fantasy movies, futuristic science-fiction movies, historical fiction and nonfiction movies, among others.
In the case of Kannywood, it has done reasonably well in producing movies that reflect greatly on the dynamics of the current order. But then that’s an order of which its potential consumers happen to be physically part. In which case, most of the content would appear familiar and cheap, which will bore the consumers and hand them the warranty to look elsewhere. Meanwhile, Kannywood competitors have religiously developed the culture of challenging the essence of everything a watcher stands for. This makes them more viable, even if more costly than Kannywood, because they satisfy consumer’s utility.
Interestingly, Kannywood’s content has been profiled as the one that agrees with its watchers’ demand. This is indifferent to saying the industry produces only the content which its watchers want to consume. But if that’s any good, why has the industry been economically stagnating and remain vulnerable to its rivals’ invasion? To be fair, Kannywood and its competitors aren’t of the same financial muscle. This plays a vital role in the distinction of their products. However, it is equally valid to mention that all other industries rivalling Kannywood have, at some point, been where it is today. So the most crucial point is how did they move forward?
Revenue, which is the excuse of Kannywood in comparison to its rivals, in the context of production, is a bi-product of the initial measures that a producer put in place to ensure the success of his product. That’s to say, as far as the producer has the initial capital, what happens next is dependent on him. And start-up capital is hardly the problem of Kannywood producers. The actual problem is recouping the expenses and profiting from the venture.
If indeed, Kannywood produces only the films that’ll appeal to its watchers for fear of losing revenue, then it’s vivid that the industry perceives the film market as a consumer’s market rather than a producer’s market. This is perhaps why they produce movies that watchers ‘want rather than the ones the watchers’ think they want. And there’s a big difference between the two. Failure to dissect this difference creates a dilemma that’s so sensitive; it makes or breaks the possibility of any market dominance.
For instance, the romantic, singing and dancing genres that Kannywood produce at a more regular rate is what Hausa watchers want. But the more adventurous and dynamic content being delivered in other film industries are what Hausa watchers think they want – hence they rush to. And the ability to deviate the latter from the former ensures whether a consumer illusion is created or not. Illusion is vital in production because it makes people consume something believing that it’ll satisfy their utility when it won’t. But, instead, it’ll only make them crave for more. And the more is being craved, the better is the chance of getting addicted, and that’s the trap of every capitalist producer.
Hollywood and Bollywood industries come from well-equipped capitalist societies where consumer psychology is conquered. Down there, it’s a producer’s market. Hence, the curve of their revenue never stops rising. Their movies are regularly subjected to sequels and prequels, defending what the producer wants. In the build-up to the preface of his critically acclaimed novel, “The Godfather”, the great author Mario Puzo confessed that a producer’s girlfriend could demand a movie scene to be filtered out. And the consumers would watch nonetheless. In my opinion, there’s no bigger evidence of control. Which greatly unlocks creativity and unhindered filmmaking viscosity.
Kannywood, on the contrary, produces what annihilates the utility of the consumer instead of what’ll make him crave more. Capitalist experts assert that if a consumer gets what he asks for, he’ll be satisfied. And if he gets satisfied, he’ll not need the product again. That’s why a wise producer never allows consumers to ask for products. Instead, he creates the product questions for them. And in turn, answer the questions in a way that’ll make them even more curious. Kannywood does the opposite. Producers obeying the trend of narrowly imaginative consumers is why the watchers don’t find the films as unique as the foreign ones, which is also why the industry is painfully stagnating.
To clear doubts, how the dubbed versions of foreign movies are being consumed at an equal if not higher rate than Kannywood movies in its native domain should erase any iota of doubt on film market being producer’s market rather than consumer’s. For if it was consumer’s, who researched the interest of a villager in Kano before making a movie in Hyderabad, India, that enables him to watch the film with keen interest?
In the end, movie producers need to conquer the fear of losing the market. The film market is a producer’s market contrary to their belief. Agreeing with that would be a new phase for creative filmmaking. They should sharpen and unlock their imagination to produce what watchers would marvel at. Hausa-Fulani society is rich with contents that can create consumer illusion—ranging from history, culture, geography, economy, politics, anthropology, etc.
MA Iliasu writes from Kano State. He can be reached through his email: email@example.com.
A very good article which explained the current situation of kannywood and the solutions to it’s downfall.
I hope they learn to adjusted. But, both kannywood and Bollywood have many similarities in terms of ways of life, and the only deficiency attacking kannywood is the lack of proper understanding of it’s religion and balancing between religion, culture and modern civilization. Bollywood have been able to scale through that face, and that’s why their producers have been fortunate to come with a movie that tend to portrait what the consumers think they want.
Thank you bro. Youve said it all.