Their voices could be heard meters away – each wanted to suppress the other.
One could have assumed they were discussing football, considering how it has become the norm among Nigerian youths.
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Nuhu, Mukhtar and Lauya were lost in a detailed discussion of the 2021 Indian Hindi-language comedy-horror film, “Roohi” and other Bollywood gossips.
Indian culture, which has crossed over from South Asia to West Africa, has made a strong footing in northern Nigeria.
Through movies, Indian culture has successfully hoisted its flag in the hearts of many Nigerian youths.
Decades of watching Indian films has bred a significant acculturation.
The impact is that a considerable number of Nigerian youths have appropriated Indian mode of dressing and names, speak the language and, so to speak, think the Indian way.
The case of Kano State, for example, the most populous state in Nigeria, is an example of how the Indian culture is gathering momentum and the youth pursue it relentlessly.
This is not peculiar to youth and women in the “Centre of Commerce”, as the elderly also remember with nostalgia, and discuss films of antiquity as if debuted by persons around them.
“When one looks back in time, classics like the 1957 Mother India, the 1977 Amar Akbar Anthony, and the 1975 Sholay come to mind,” Abdulkarim Dogo, a Kano resident, said.
Dogo said he still looked forward to watching classic films like Shaan (1980) and Qurbani (1980), saying he received his baptism into Bollywood through Shaan.
“I remember casts like Zeenat Aman, Vinod Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Prasad Sinha. I saw them superhuman.
“That soundtrack “Yamma Yamma” reduces me to tears. I listen to it with nostalgia. It reminds me of my youth days when the world was peaceful. When I felt complete.
“No film industry in the world can replace Bollywood in my heart. I feel engaged watching it. In those days, I used to shed tears as I could feel the characters’ pain.”
In the 1950s, Nigerians, especially in the northern part of the country, became obsessed with Indian movies, which are an effective vehicle for cultural exportation.
Indians in Nigeria
The history of Indians in Nigeria is the history of how Hinduism spread to the country when Sindhis first arrived in the early part of the nineteenth century.
Today, there are thousands of Indian professionals, traders and manufacturers in Nigeria.
While an estimated 55,000 Nigerians live in India, the Indian community population in Nigeria is estimated to be nearly 50,000.
But the questions remains: is this the basis of ‘Hindi speaking community’ in northern Nigeria?
Bollywood in Kannywood
Culture has its own way and the media, especially films, amplify it.
Of course, there is a symbiotic relationship between India and Nigeria. There was trade, education and medicine. But Indian films did the magic.
The Hausa Film Industry birth in Kano. Popularly known as “Kannywood”, it came into existence in 1960s.
It was a brain-child of the productions of ARTV and Radio Kaduna that featured characters like Dalhatu Bawa and Kasimu Yaro.
Since 1990s when cinema was birthed in northern Nigeria, by contact or association, Bollywood has successfully transferred its glamour to Kannywood.
The people watch it, recognize the narratives, characters and predicaments.
From plot, theme to singing and dancing, the Hausa Film Industry draws its inspiration, consciously or otherwise, from Indian film industry, Bollywood.
Realism, love, beauty, marriage, enmity, death, coming of age and heroism, which are the recurrent themes of India film industry, reflect in Kannywood.
A radio personality and presenter of a Hindi Speaking programme at Sawaba FM, Hadejia, Suraj Na’iya Kududdufawa, said he picked interest in the language during his university days.
“My first stint as a presenter of a Hindi speaking programme was at BUK Radio Station alongside Fatima Aishwarya. I started learning it in the campus and since then I have developed a strong interest in the language and watching movies sharpened my skills.”
He added that the Coronavirus pandemic affected his ambition to travel to India, but that the ambition is still alive.
A Hindi singer, Auwal Yusuf Konami, said he took interest in Bollywood after watching Tujko Na Dekhun of the 1999 movie Jaanwar, adding he first listened to the soundtrack in his friend’s room.
Konami’s passion for Hindi language took him to India where he spent almost a year and half.
“I started watching Indian films since when I was a toddler. Then I could not make sense of it. But since ARTV showed Indian films on weekends we used that hour to kill time.
“I started learning the language when I was in secondary school. As I become persistent, I traveled to India in 2019 after I bagged the best singer award during the World Hindi Day of that year. It was an eye-opener,” he said.
Konami added that even before he traveled to India he spoke the language fluently with Indians in Nigeria.
He said, “I was honoured by both the High Commission of India, Abuja and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
A polyglot, Konami’s enthusiasm for Hindi language cannot be put in words.
The language barrier that deterred Hindi movies lovers in Nigeria from total consumption of Indian films has been lifted.
Until recently when India-Hausa filmmakers like Algaita Dub Studio, out of ingenuity, decided to give the audience a kind of originality, Indian film had stayed untranslated for decades.
The India-Hausa filmmakers coin words and expression to fill the gaps left by “cultural distance”.
Before this breakthrough by the highly creative India-Hausa filmmakers, the Hindi film lovers followed the dialogue by reading the minds of the casts and made meaning out of the plots.
A co-presenter of “Inside Bollywood”, Amina Muhammad Adam, said he communication barrier has been lifted with a breakthrough in Hindi language learning achieved.
She said, “Preciously Hindi films lovers were remote-controlled by the casts’ feelings. When the characters are sad or happy the viewers would resonate with that mental state even if they couldn’t adequately understand why.”
“A lot of our listeners wonder if I have been to India or study there. But I learnt everything in Nigeria.”