Saturday, February 18, 2012

Actors Don’t Remain With One Lady For Long -Nafisa

Born and raised in Jos, Plateau State, Nafisa Abdullahi is one of those faces you always see popping up on the big or small screen as far as Kannywood home video is concerned, and you invariably find yourself asking, “Wasn’t she the queen and star of ‘Sai Wata Rana',? a movie that really became the test of time, and you would be right. Also referred to as ‘Sai Wata Rana’ by her teeming fans, Nafisa made her film debut in 2009, in Sani Mu’azu’s ‘Haaja,’ and literally continued to earn her stripes to date. Recently, the beautiful, actress was honoured with Best Actress Award by The Young Northerners For Excellence, at the prestigious Arewa House, Kaduna. The award, according to her is the best thing that made her dream come to reality. In this interview with AL-AMIN CIROMA, Kannywood’s own Preity Zinta' discussed her experience in Kannywood and issues bordering scandals in the industry. Excerpts:

When I first watched ‘Sai Wata Rana,’ I kept wondering and thinking of some Bollywood stars, Pretty Zinta, Rani Mukherjee, etc. Your performance was absolutely remarkable.
Oh, I like hearing that! I am thankful to God who gave me the courage to deliver my lines and to my producer/director, Ali Nuhu for helping me come out victorious. I really enjoyed the set of ‘Sai Wata Rana,’ it made me camera-friendly. I have passion for show biz, I love it and I love what I am doing. I also believe any other person could’ve done better. So yes, I’ll take your statement as a compliment, thank you! (Laughs).

Tell us about your first experience on set
(Inhales deeply) filming, like I said earlier is an obsession, kind of fixation deep inside me, I have been nursing it for a while, although my parents wanted me entirely on another platform, but I believe this is my destiny. Presently, I am studying Theatre Arts in Unijos (University of Jos). One can agree with me that in all aspects of life, there has to be a beginning and an end. My coming into show biz was like a dream come true, kind of. Acting for camera is heroic you know. I felt like the whole world is watching me, I really had to put myself together to face the challenges, having in mind that I am doing what I love most and thank God, I made it and it is now part of me.

When you came into the industry, did you have any misgivings about acting for camera choice?
Why? No! I had no doubts about my chosen career because I was determined and I know I will make it since it is my talent. Acting is not just something you can pretend about, it is either you have the talent or you don’t. I don’t see any reason someone will force himself or herself into something he or she was not born to be.

Your resume has an incredibly diverse mixture of professionalism and skillfulness and as a student of Theatre art, how do you access the Hausa home video produced in Kannywood?
That’s something that would be worth spending a little time talking about. Although as a student, I should have my limitations, but I think Kannywood is coming up, they are gradually bridging the gap. Professionally, the Hausa movies are quite appealing and everybody is now engaged in collective efforts. Go to the locations and see for yourself, the production crew are doing exactly what is expected. Sound mangers, line producers, lighteners, directors of photography, cameramen, etc. name them; everybody is doing his work professionally. Unlike before where you see a producer with a kind of ‘jack of all trades’ format of operation. Kannywood has incredibly gone international and above all, the stories appeal to all ages.
It’s very noteworthy that most of us in the industry are beginning to learn all these trends and that’s what makes our work go international. This effort is really commendable. I can now tell you that Hausa filmmakers are considerably bubbling to the international arena.

Am I right to consider Nafisa as an A-list Kannywood actress?>(Laughs) A star is a star, it depends on how you see it, A-list or not. It doesn’t hide.

You just got an award. How do you feel, are you fulfilled?
I thank God at least people have recognised this effort. And I see this award as a stepping stone, as if to say: ‘Hey, Nafisa tighten up and face challenges.’ Again, I am happy in the sense that I am beginning to see the light in my profession. I feel delighted to be part of the blockbuster, ‘Sai Wata Rana,’ which earned me this great award.

What makes you think this is a break-through?
(Laughs) I believe in God. I thank Him for His favours. I pray hard to remain myself (laughs), at least things are good on my side. Alhamdulillah (Thank God).

Can you please spell the character behind your person?
Nafisa is a simple and down to earth girl. I love myself; respect my parents, elders and colleagues. I believe all success comes through these windows. I want to use this opportunity to tell my fans that all roles we play in the movies are make-believes. They are not real, we try our best with the aid of the directors and translate the roles. So, Nafisa is simple, very obedient and accommodating. My fans should not define me by my characters in the movies. I am as plain as everybody and I love you all. (Laughs)

Show business is a kind of rendezvous where things happen the way they happen. Some artistes are involved in series of scandals, while others may be victims of favouritism and stuff like that. Were you involved in any show of shame since you made your debut?
None, I have never been involved in any scandal whatsoever.

I want you to be honest because this is a very sensitive question. Is it true that you once encountered heartbreak in the industry...?
(Inhales again) No! Umm... yes! It is true, I once fell in love with one of the artistes in Kannywood, but as usual, stars hardly stick to one particular girl, so it crashed. It was painful though, but I have been kind of preparing myself. I’ve been taking the pains in my stride. I find it quite amusing reading about some scandals on pages of dailies or magazines. So I just kind of let it be.

Any mastermind?
(Laughs) No, no! Some things are better left unexplained, most especially one’s privacy. It used to hurt, but I am good now. No more reoccurrence. I won’t give in anymore!

As beautiful and sultry as you are, were you ever harassed by a producer/director or top actor for favours?
No, I don’t believe in that, although so many things are happening under the sun. It happens in schools, banks, etc. It does not only happen in the Hausa film industry.

I want to ask you straight, how do you wriggle out of such situations and were you ever tempted?
(Laughs) Please, please stop it. I won’t be tempted Insha Allah. God is in control.

But have you had an encounter with an actor who wanted favours from you for roles?
No, never!

You mean if a handsome man winks at you invitingly you won’t respond?
(Laughs) I have total control of myself and I pray a lot, simple!

A word to your colleagues and fans.
To my colleagues, we should work hard to maintain our stardom and respect each other’s feelings. My fans, I love you all. Without you, definitely, I won’t be here, so keep praying for me. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pacesetting: CCDP Transforming ‘Nupewood’

It was sincerely meant to be a faction from the northern film industry widely known as Kannywood because the movies produced in the north are predominantly in a local Hausa dialect, making the industry one of the largest in sub Saharan Africa. It blossomed to trigger the invention and reinvention of other ethnic group debuts with ‘wood’ as the tag to show affiliation.

Kannywood is purely Hausa speaking, depicting the culture of the people and loved by other Hausa speaking countries like, Niger, Ghana and Chad.

One of the tags that came out of Kannywood is ‘Nupewood.’ While the former is in the forefront producing home videos in Hausa language, the latter is producing in Nupe language. The Nupe film industry dates back to the year 2005 with the production of a tragic comedy titled, Teacher Yekondunu, by Mazariyya films. The hit movie became the floodgate of Nupe movies that is widely distributed in Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Lagos, Kaduna, and Kano states and even outside Nigeria.

The tonic of these productions is the music genre. Unlike Bollywood and Kannywood that music and film are fused as one, ‘Nupewood’ has both as independent of each other. This was made manifest during the 2011 presidential campaigns of the PDP.

Another eye-catching side to this phenomenon is the music of Clean Videos Production, Nanvo Yizheci, by Abubakar N. Kutigi. His has the verve and sonority of a masculine vocalist garnished with profound lyrics of traditional oratory. Abubakar’s campaign songs attracted a lot of attention and provided useful catch points in the minds of the high and mighty.

These impacts metamorphosed into the call for capacity building by Hon. Mohammed Sani Kutigi few months after the elections. According to him, raw talents should be harnessed and projected. Hon. Sani believes that quality knowledge of a vocation entrenches self worth, material independence and productivity for an egalitarian society.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, one of the beneficiaries, Sadisu Mohamed shed more light on the mode of selection by the sponsor of Constituency Capacity Development Programme (CCDP). He said, “Hon. Sani Muhammad Kutigi barely knows any of us. He made no fuss of his intention up to the time we departed Nigeria. Only Abubakar N. Kutigi had met him before our departure.

“Until now, we knew nothing of the hassles of our trip. Everything was done for us. This is a rare disposition in Nigeria. First of its kind and can hardly be copied.”

Also speaking on their first experience at the institute, Abubakar N. Kutigi, said they were received on arrival by the Director and CEO of International Animation and Media Academy (IAM), Aaron Ong. “It was really fun. Our plane touched down at the Kuala Lumpur Airport at 6pm (Malaysian Time), Mr. Ong drove us straight to the beautiful KL Central area of Malaysia’s capital.

As we moved into a lift to the 8th floor of a fifteen-storey building that housed our apartment, our anxiety grew as my eyes locked with Abubakar’s and swiftly moved to the already fixed ones of Adamu. We entered our apartment with our hearts in our mouths. The place is heaven on earth. Completely a home for leisure with pleasurably stationed gadgets for home study and research. Our host took us out for dinner…. The rest is history.” He said.

What is new? At the IAM, the three CCDP beneficiaries were cut in by their well determined and high spirit to explore and satisfy their curiosities. Teacher Yekondunu said, “In less than an hour, we were taken around the spacious and architecturally marvelous academy. There was an assemblage of state of the art equipments as well as a multitude of ready experts. Introductions were made quite briefly.

“There was also a hot encounter. An impromptu class-test on digital imaging and film making! The aim was to assess our previous knowledge on film-making. In the end, Abubakar N. Kutigi topped in digital imaging while I took the lead in digital film-making. Adamu was pegged at infantry level requiring thorough drilling in the nitty-gritty of film-making.’’

What was the shocker a? This question was swiftly answered by Kutigi, saying, a special class was organized for them by the IAM boss himself, “A multi-media class to x-ray to us the dynamics of movie making. Aaron shocked us when he announced that samples of our movies he had watched lack the entire ingredients of a real movie. From script to production; camera techniques to post production, we watched and listened breathlessly to the animation and 3D guru of international repute Aaron Ong as he took us through the steps of high-class movie-making with ease.”

The three Nupe youths created a niche for themselves at the IAM ahead of many foreigners and students in their class. They were commended by all. Abubakar N. Kutigi’s mastery in Fruity Loops and Sonar Software’s in composing music thrilled all.

The two-hour contact with Aaron, according to them has remained the most memorable since their arrival. “Mr. Ong once said to us, ‘I will customize your programme based on your previous knowledge” said Mohammed.

Their success story? The three wonderful Nupewood ambassadors have been exposed to the world of movie realism with copious examples from works carried out by IAM Academy. It will be recalled that Hollywood’s The Kingmaker had all its special effects and animation designs done in IAM Academy. The movie became a guide and reference for our lectures. Emphasis was place on the pattern through which most of the effects were achieved.

“It is worthy of note to state that lectures are both theories and practical on same equilibrium,” noted Adamu Baba Abdullahi.

Adding that they have so far shot a number of scenes as test exercises like the one we titled The Loop, a 5-minute non-dialogue movie of magical realism that starred all the students as cast while he did the shoot.

“The art of doing a story-board for movie before going into production is where we are now. It is such a wide field that appears to be the secret of most Hollywood blockbusters,” said Abdullahi.

What next? How time flies! The eager-beavers have already spent a month out of their 90 days stay at the IAM. Their classes were meant to last for a month. The second month shall be individual application of knowledge acquired so far via practical. A short film, documentary and a musical video are the projects before them now.

What would be the final package?

The boost this training will give the emerging Nupewood may be unquantifiable. No doubt, arbitrariness will be a thing of the past. The knowledge shall not be monopolised. They shall impart on other budding practitioners to heighten professionalism, by implication, their movies will wear new looks of exceptional quality and patronage will consequently swell. Youthful exuberance and restiveness will decline and the society will be better for it. Nigerian motion picture industry is surely on the forefront to the climax. Only time will tell.
Published in my LEADERSHIP WEEKEND Column, December 3, 2011.