Abdulrahman Muhammad known as Abdul Amart Mai Kwashewa is a prominent Kannywood producer and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Abnur Entertainment. In this interview, he speaks on his latest project ‘Manyan Mata’, and how a united Kannywood can attract more help and donation to the industry.
Your latest movie ‘Manyan Mata’ is the talk of the town, especially with how you cast virtually all the big actors of Kannywood. Looking at the market at hand, how did you plan to sell this huge budget movie?
I think we have already sold it out. You are right! We spent a lot on the movie, but we are not looking at the budget alone; we are more concerned about the message. The movie is aimed at addressing pressing social vices like rape, drug addiction, street begging and many more.
We have gotten support from Future Assured Foundation of First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, and Musa Halilu Foundation. They supported us so that the message can have a wider circulation. And we have sat with some NGOs and companies that will give us adverts.
We will then buy airtime in a TV station, and air our movie. I think by doing that, we can recover our money, and even make some profit.
When should people expect the movie, and how are you going to air it?
I think in two months’ time, the movie would hit the screen and we are going to air it on Arewa24.
Our findings revealed that the highest grossing movie in Kannywood is ‘Ka yi na yi’ with a total of ₦5,464,500, whereas in Nollywood, ‘Omo Ghetto’ grossed more than N600m, why the huge gap?
Well, I think one of the factors is that our people are yet to fully accept cinemas, and another factor is that we only have one standard cinema in the North, unlike in the South.
This is one of the reasons why some producers like Aminu Saira’s ‘Labarina’, Falalu Dorayi’s ‘Gidan Badamasi’ and I opted for TV. Nobody wants to invest huge money, and at the end count loss instead of profit. Even the money you are talking about; if you gross like N5m, N3m goes to the cinema owners, while you get N2m. But we have the feeling that in TV, we will get a better bargain. We are sure of recovering the money we spent, and even get some profit no matter how small it is.
So, you see, it is not that we cannot produce good movies, or we don’t have the means to do big budget movies, it is the marketing problem that is scaring us. We don’t have standard cinemas, and even the one we have, the percentage they collect is too much. So, if you do all your permutations, you will have no reason to spend a lot of money that you will hardly recover. That is why many big producers are forced to stop producing movies and wait to see the next line of marketing.
But Netflix is there to solve your marketing problem. Is it that Kannywood cannot produce movies that can go to Netflix?
We have good movies that can go into Netflix, and we can produce even more, but Netflix issue is something else. There are cycles that control what Netflix do in Nigeria, and as Northern film makers, there are things they want that we cannot do. But we have many good cultural movies, but we don’t have direct link to the Netflix, and the people controlling it here are not ready to help.
In 2015 and 2019, Kannywood actors said they joined politics to attract some dividends to the industry. Is there anything to show for it?
As far as I am concerned, I can say politics runs in our family. My grandfather – Alhaji Abubakar Dzukoji, was a politician with Malam Aminu Kano in NEPU. So, I inherited politics.
And since I ventured into film making, I have been into politics. So, when people started clamouring for change, I asked myself what I can contribute to the people’s clamour as a filmmaker. That was how I sponsored the popular campaign song, ‘Lema Ta Yage’ with my own money with no support from any one. The song cast many big actors and musicians in the industry, and went a long way in helping the APC in getting more votes.
We have a team and whenever we see you are the right candidate, we will assemble our team members and campaign for you.
So, as you said, we are doing all that just to attract the politicians to help our industry and nothing more. I can say the APC government has tried for the entertainment industry generally, but unfortunately, we, at Kannywood, didn’t get what we actually expected to get.
But I must mention Alhaji Musa Halilu, Dujiman Adamawa, for his support to the industry. He has done his part. It was through him that Governor Nasiru el-Rufai of Kaduna State gave us 6000 hectares of land to build a standard cinema, and work has since begun. There are other politicians who promised many other things but are yet to fulfill them.
Others that have been helping the industry are the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Buhari. She has been supportive all this while, as well as APC Caretaker Committee Chairman, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State. Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has also been very supportive to our cause; and Abdullahi Mai Kano. These are the people that I know from my side who are really helping kannywood.
Your team is now campaigning for Yahaya Bello, do you think the industry can get something better from him?
I told you we are a group. And what we normally do is to sit together, deliberate and agree on what to do. On Yahaya Bello, we did our investigations, and our findings revealed that he is a lover of the youth. And we have agreed to get a younger politician who knows the problems of the youth. After our findings, we arrived at the resolution that Yahaya Bello is the best candidate for us – the youths. He has empowered youths and women already. What do you expect if he becomes the president? We will get more. That is the reason we endorsed him.
Which of your movie is to you the best and why?
I like all the movies I produced, and each has a specific message it passes. But if I must choose one, then I will select ‘Manyan Mata’ because I see it as more than just a movie; I see it as a way of giving back to the society. In the movie, we tried to address many societal problems that bedevil our society. So, I am happy I contributed something (using film) to better the lot of our people. But my other movies like Basma, Ummi and Salma, are all good movies and I like them.
One of the biggest problems in Kannywood is lack of unity, but under your group, it seems you are bringing Kannywood under one umbrella. How are you doing it?
We have been into this industry for quite a long time, and we know the problems of the industry and how best to solve it. That lack of unity is the major factor taking us back. It’s through our struggle that we got the land I mentioned in Kaduna. So, instead of going to solicit for help as an individual, it is better to go as a group. That is why I am championing this cause of having all stakeholders because that will help us to get better things for the industry.
You know the industry is not viable enough, which is why we are trying to carry everybody along by empowering them. So, it is not only cars that we gave, we gave some houses, and capital to some to start business. And whenever we have a chance, where we think we will get something, we invite others so that we can get it together. And our transparent way of doing things is a factor that attracts more people to join us.
You are the first person to cast Ummi Rahab in your movie’ Ummi’. How did you feel when you heard about her issue with Adam A. Zango?
I was busy, so I didn’t hear much on the issue and I didn’t bother to find out. So, I don’t know what happened, and I can’t comment on it.
Any message to your fans?
They should expect ‘Manyan Mata’ very soon on their screens. I am sure they will enjoy it. And they should continue supporting us so that we can give them our best.
In two months, Manyan Mata will start in Arewa24 and our YouTube channel, Abnur Entertainment.
Isiyaku Muhammed is a researcher, blogger and Press Association London certified multimedia journalist.