Nuraddeen Muhammad Usman, popularly known as Nura MC Khan, is the chairman of Kadawood Film Industry based in Kaduna and the producer of ‘Daga Ceton Rai’ and many other TV series. He’s also featured in many Nollywood movies. In this interview, he talks about the difference between Northern and Southern movies, and lots more.
WM: People hear more of Kannywood as the Hausa film industry, so tell us about Kadawood?
Nuraddeen Muhammad Usman: Kadawood has been there for a very long time. We created Kadawood solely as an independent film making industry to tell our stories ourselves from our own perspective.
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We have good artists in Kaduna who have been making names all over. We want to use the platform to promote peace and harmony in our state and beyond after all the crises that bedevilled the state for a long time. This is the reason we created the film industry.
WM: What is the difference between Kadawood and Kannywood?
Usman: They are the same thing, as far as filmmaking is concerned. We are all producing films. But unlike Kannywood, Kadawood is structured to embrace all Nigerian languages. At Kadawood, we want to give a platform to all Kaduna tribes and those outside the state. So basically, whereas Kannywood is largely dominated by Hausa speaking people, and they produce Hausa films, in Kadawood, we produce movies in English, Hausa and we are planning to expand to produce movies in other Kaduna languages.
WM: You’ve featured in many Nollywood movies, but it seems your recent one ‘The takers’ is receiving more applause.
Usman: ‘The takers’ is a very big budgeted movie that tells a lot. It tells the relationship between the North and the South. The movie is aimed at addressing the ever-growing apprehension between us, and inculcates the habit of living harmoniously together. I implore you to go and watch the movie, and thank me later. It is of the Hollywood standard.
I was the second lead actor. I gave my best in the movie, which I think is the reason it opened many doors for me in Nollywood. I had featured in many movies before ‘The takers’ and after it, but in ‘The takers’, I think I did something exceptional that brought me more into Nollywood limelight. The director Toka McBaror said having me in English movies is a blessing.
WM: How many English movies have you featured in so far?
Usman: I featured in movies like ‘The only Surviving Soldiers,’ ‘King of Kumar,’ ‘Paper Board,’ ‘Salim’ and most recently ‘The takers’ and so on.
WM: What are the differences between Hausa and English movies?
Usman: Well, there are some differences. In the marketing aspect, Nollywood is ahead of us which perhaps is because they are using English language. So, producers make more money there, which is a huge booster to any filmmaker, and it helps them in producing better movies because they know they will get profit no matter how much they devote.
They also pay more, which is also directly linked to the market they have.
But the Hausa film industry is coming up. Some of us now make big budget movies that are good in all ramifications. So, we are trying our best to bridge the gap.
But where the Hausa film industry is better than Nollywood is in the way our people appreciate us. Here, our people appreciate us, and give us more attention than our counterparts in the South. The recognition they get that is better than ours is in getting more endorsement.
WM: Between Hausa films and Nollywood, where do you enjoy working more?
Usman: I enjoy working in both industries. Wherever I find myself, I try to give my best. I am a filmmaker, so I don’t like giving anything less than 100%. I think this is one of the reasons more producers are coming for me.
WM: What can be done for the Hausa film industry to reach the level of Nollywood?
Usman: We should redefine our perspective. We have to start producing movies targeting the world at large. We need to go for more training in all aspects of film making, and even the actors need to be updating. So, if we can be updating ourselves, I see our industry competing with Hollywood and Bollywood in the near future, not even Nollywood. And lastly, we must put merit ahead of sentiment and loyalty. In some of our movies, casts are selected in some cases based on loyalty, whereas in Nollywood they select cast based on merit.
There is one Nollywood movie ‘The House of Dambe’. The producers called me and described what they wanted, and I sent a boy to them that was working here only as a bodyguard in our movie, and they cast him as the lead role. In all the Nollywood movies I featured, I was selected based on what I can offer, not on loyalty.
WM: In your company – ‘The white bird movies’, you sell most of your content on YouTube. Are you making profit?
Usman: I upload my movies on YouTube – in Kadawood TV, and I sell my contents to TV stations. On the issue of making profit, I can say we are getting small profit, but one thing with YouTube is that it is a life-long thing; so, you will keep getting profit for a very long time, and it depends on your viewers and subscribers. The higher you get, the more money you get. Your children can even inherit it and keep getting money. After all, we don’t have better options now; the CD market is dead and we don’t have many standard cinemas.
WM: Can YouTube solve the marketing problems of Kannywood?
Usman: I don’t think YouTube alone is enough because we are talking of competing with global film industries. So, the only way out is to have more standard cinemas. If we have as many standard cinemas as possible; producers will get more profit, and so they will invest more, and by doing so, actors and other crew members will be well paid.
WM: Kannywood actors are seen in politics, but you are not visible anymore, why?
Usman: Well, I am also into politics. Nowadays, things have somewhat changed so much that you must enter politics to make your things move better. My only principle is that I try to give my best in whatever I believe in, but I don’t take myself too low to beg for favours. That is why I do politics with utmost caution.
WM: Any message to your fans?
Usman: I can only thank them. All we are doing is because of their unflinching support; so, I don’t have enough words to appreciate them. My prayer is that we continue to entertain them and have a good ending.
Isiyaku Muhammed is a researcher, blogger and a Press Association London certified multimedia journalist.