Umaru Danjuma Katsina, popularly known as Kasagi Na Halima, has been in the film industry for the past 40 years featuring in the popular drama whose title has become his nickname today. In this interview, heshares his views about the Kannywood film industry, the fate of the film village and more. Excerpts:
Kasagi: “If there’d been proper organisation of Kannywood, we wouldn’t have any problems today.”
Recently, the Muhammadu Buhari Film Village was cancelled due to criticism from certain quarters.What is your take on that?
Well, the main reason why the situation got to this level was the condemnation by clerics in Kano.Definitely the clerics had to react the way they did because in the beginning when this new home Hausa movies first came about, they scared so many people.The way and manner they made movies was alien to the norm and cultures of the Hausa people for so many reasons. The movie makers first and foremost did not know what the norms, culture and tradition of the people entailed, the knowledge of the religion and even the language is lacking on their part. This made the clerics to rise up given what the movie makers had done in the past. However having the film village is a good omen for all.
In what ways is it a blessing?
The first thing is that it is a new project worth billions to be established in the north. The monies invested will definitely improve the place and the economy of the region, and the area. The second is that if not done here, Nollywood producers will surely have it, so doing it in the north and in Kano will bridge the economic gap. What needs to be done is to enlighten the actors on the way to do things properly, to show them what is promotable and not. Anyone who sees the amount to be invested will surely be scared given what the players have done in the past. Indian movie styles were adopted, contrary to our cultures, which we should have promoted.The Indians are using their movies to promote their cultures and norms, same with the Japanese, Chinese and the Europeans. Are they saying we, as Hausas, don’t have our unique culture and traditions to showcase? We did ‘RuwanBagaja’, ‘KulbanaBarna’, ‘BabanLarai’, ‘Magana JariCe’, the televisions series.If you critically look at them, they were all Hausa culture at their best that were portrayed.
But don’t you think these are all attempt by the Hausa film industry to mordernise and move with the changing times?
Which modernisation?Even the Indians we are copying had to promote their cultures for years before starting to deviate or digress a bit.They had already showcased to the world for years their traditions before they chose to modernise in a bid not to lose out in the global market.In the old Indians films, you cannot see naked Indian women, unlike in today’s films.
What are the dividends of this film village if it were to be executed?
From what I was able to gather, it will serve as a revenue generation source for the country which the country is in dire need of at the moment.Secondly, these youthful film makers and actors have for a while not been causing trouble for government as they have engaged themselves in it, reducing unemployment, so government coming to invest, with the film village and as they start to produce reasonable films of our cultures and norms, it will surely help in the government diversification efforts.
What is then expected of the president now with regards to the film village?
My advice is that please and please, the president should not cancel the project in its entirety.It has tremendous benefits.People are saying that it would have been much better to sink the funds in other ventures, they have their reasons as well but these are two entirely different areas.
But the clerics are all out against it?
Some of the clerics are a bit knowledgeable and have understanding on the issue.There is one mallam here in Katsina who always, when we meet, used to say that, “AlhajiUmaruKasagiinairinnakuwa’azinku? Kun bari.Anfisauraronirinnaku, mu yanzubaa sauraron mu.” We laugh together. What scared the clerics is the dimension the new Hausa films are taking, seeing that if given more room, they will continue their illicit ways.But it could be curtailed by bringing the stakeholders to enlighten and educate them on how to go about it.When we were at the centre for Nigerian Cultures, we ran a diploma courses.If the center had reached now, this nonsense they do nowadays wouldn’t have been there at all because of the avenue for training. I call on the government to open up training facilities at the universities,Film Corporation and TV College, Jos.
Since the people of Kano have kicked against it, are you of the view it should be moved to Katsina or some other place?
There is no way the people of kano will not want it given the way the state government is involved in the issue and the support they have been given the film industry in the state, they created a department, it is a business.There is no way you will tell me to stop how I run my theatre, it’s a registered business. The way out is to educate, sensitize the players on what needs to be done and avoided. Show them what it is, I said it, film is about portraying ones traditions but they are going hay wire and must be corrected. Most of them are not trained.One will just come up and say I’m a director of a film without knowing what it takes to be a director. I read film making in the United Kingdom, I know what it entails to be one.Before you become a director, you must be conversant with all aspects of movie and film making departments, camera, editing script writing and so on.
Is this why you avoid featuring in Hausa movies?
No, it’s not.They never come to me to take part, only one person IshaqIshaq ever featured me in his movie, ask him.
Many will believe that is the non-invitation that is making you criticise the Hausa film industry?
Not at all. I’m 40 years old in this business. We are the first batch that went to England to study film making.When I returned, I wrote ‘Kulba na barna’ and later it became a movie which was accepted worldwide, got awards in Italy, Germany, France, Korea and Burkina Faso. I can say things authoritatively, I’m not criticising nor casting aspersions but saying the best way it could be done for a win-win solution for all.