Kannywood is the Hausa language movie industry which is one of the major pillars of Nollywood, Nigeria’s movie industry. Being a director in Kannywood is huge. Kannywood films have large audience base across Africa and beyond. So how can you be a director in Kannywood? In this interview published on Daily Trust, Abubakar Haruna Gambo, popularly known as Abu Sarki in Kannywood explains how you can become a kannywood director. Abu Sarki is a producer and director in Kannywood. In this interview with Weekend Magazine, he speaks on what attracted him to Kannywood, the challenges he has faced in the industry and the real story behind his relationship with the industry’s diva, Amina Amal. Excerpts:
Weekend Magazine: How did you get the nickname Abu Sarki?
Abubakar Haruna Abu Sarki: I got the name in secondary school, when I used to win sporting contests, quiz and debates. I was called Abu the King, which is sarki in Hausa.
WM: What attracted you to Kannywood?
Sarki: The Hausa films I watched inspired me. They served as catalyst and I learned a lot of lessons from them. I told myself that if I become a part of Kannywood I can contribute my quota in bringing awareness to people who can also learn from my stories. It is a breeding ground for people to learn about life.
WM: Why did you opt for producing and directing instead of acting?
Sarki: I chose to be man-behind-the-camera because I am shy and don’t like the spotlight. This was why I started with production. I produced blockbuster films like ‘Gwaska’, ‘Nas’, ‘Bayan Rai’ and many more, then I decided to shift my attention to directing. But I didn’t just start directing on my own. I worked with good directors in Kannywood like Falalu Dorayi, Adam A. Zango and Ali Nuhu. They taught me the basics in directing, to be creative, innovative and have eyes and ears for the camera. I did that and now I am reaping the advice they gave me.
WM: Recently, a film titled ‘Amal’ was released which you created and directed. Why did you come up with the story?
Sarki: The film has a fantasy storyline. I came up with the idea of the story to warn and caution people that always back-stab and betray. It was also a riot act to those who try to follow illegal ways to acquire wealth. The film was a hit, and has impact on the society, because a lot of people called me and told me that the film has taught them a lot of lessons.
WM: What challenges have you faced in Kannywood?
Sarki: The major challenge was what I went through before I mastered work in the industry. It requires patience. For example, from when you will be onset to when you release your film one goes through a lot.
WM: What’s your response to the rumour that you are marrying actress Amina Amal, who was a lead actress in your film ‘Amal’?
Sarki: I have a professional relationship with Amina Amal; she is kind, decent and treats everybody with respect. She is young and has targets she wants to achieve. I believe marriage is not in her agenda right now.
WM: What challenges have you faced as a producer?
Sarki: Producing a new project is always exciting, but if one is not careful the excitement will lead him to make a bad decision and produce a flop. One must be passionate about his film and at the same time think outside the box.
WM: What does it take to be a Kannywood director?
Sarki: For you to be a director, you need to figure out how to shoot a film that will appeal to a wide range of people. Also there’s the need to create a balance that will attract people to watch the film without being offended and appeal to a wide age bracket. To achieve these, a number of techniques, devices and alterations to the film have to be made and used and if the director doesn’t think along that line, he isn’t a good director.
In addition, the director must also master the language, setting, music, time management, costumes, and actors and actresses. The director must also ensure the film doesn’t go outside our culture and religion, because in Kannywood, culture and religion always play a vital role in making a film to be a hit or miss.
WM: What is your advice for the audience and your colleagues?
Sarki: I just need our audience to pray for us so that we can keep going and produce very good films for them. I urge them to stop buying our films that were pirated because buying them is harming us and if they continue, one day we won’t be able to produce the films for them. Also, for our fans that are complaining that we are not giving them time, I want them to know Kannywood is an energy and time-sapping place, we are always engaged in one way or the other. If you are not on location, you are in the studio for the post-production processes or on pre-production preparations. We have limited time; I hope they will bear with us.
For my colleagues I want them to work hard in taking Kannywood to greater heights, because nobody will do it for us. If you can remember, government tried to help us by building a film village, but it was criticized by clerics, forcing the idea to be shelved. We have to do it ourselves and we can’t do it if we are not united.
(first published on Daily Trust)