Hassan Giggs is a cinematographer, producer and director who has been in the Hausa movie industry popularly called Kannywood for about three decades and is behind a lot of success stories in the industry. In this interview, he talks about his recent film, among other issues.
What is special about your recent almajiri film?
Tsangayar Asali which is the name of the movie is about the almajiri reform system, because mostly the way people look at almajiri; they think they don’t have something doing, or maybe you just send your children out of home for them to start begging on the streets or something like that.
It was on this line that Khalifa Dankade Charitable (KDC) foundation, in partnership with Motion Pictures, called on me that they had a very good script they wanted to talk about called Tsangayar Asali. They told me that it was a story that talked about the state of the almajiri system and that the story was somehow backdated to about 100 years; tracing how the system started.
The script was read to me and we went through it; did the table reading and the preproduction and then we started the production.
When I read the script, I said wow! This is a very good something that audiences need to know about.
It is believed that attempts to tackle the “menace” of almajiri issues have failed. Do you think this film will succeed?
In the first place, what encouraged the executive producer and I was the support we received from the state government. Apart from the government, I think we also have the support of all the forty four local government areas in Kano, as they host Tsangaya schools.
While on set, someone walked up to us and said, “How I wish this is how Kannywood used to tell their stories because they won’t be having a lot of issues.”
He said there were a lot of issues in the system of almajiranci and that this was how we were supposed to tell the story. I was overwhelmed, because mostly we have the stories but we don’t know how to put present them.
What is the level of the state government’s involvement in this film?
(Laughter)! Although I’m the director, the producer and the executive producer will be in a better position to tell you more about how the government came in. My side of the story is that I was happy when I was invited to direct the film.
My concern was how I was going to shoot that kind of film that was going to have a lot of criticism. If you are doing this kind of film, definitely you are going to have a lot of criticism.
Were you involved in the selection of the cast?
Yes; the first thing we did was to call for an audition because mostly what we normally have is that there are ready made actors in Kannywood, so the executive producer and the producer now said why not pick new people? We need new faces to tell our story; we want to change the normal narrative of how people look at Kannywood; that they don’t have stories; they only talk about love stories.
We called for auditioning online and we started registering, we got about 1,500 people and what we actually needed was the lead actor, the supporting actor, the supporting team and central character. What we actually needed was at least 50, and along the line we were able to just crack our brain and select the qualified ones. Most of the people that came for the audition were from different parts of the country.
We are hoping that Tsangayar Asali will be a film that will change the Northern film industry because it has changed a lot of narratives.
What makes the film unique?
After the government watched the film, they now said Gov Ganduje was so happy that he made a soul touching comment. People were like, so you mean that the Executive Governor of Kano State has started advertising your film? I said no, he is involved in the project and he is encouraging us to do more films like that.
During the screening of the film, the ulamas came in, the governor was there, the deputy governor was there and the Emir of Bichi was there. In fact, a lot of prominent people came in to watch the premiere.
In short, that’s the most successful thing I have done in my life, and I am happy for that.
Who are the prominent faces in the film?
There are new faces, there is one boy called Abdul, I think the guy is into Nollywood films. In fact, I was surprised when he came to the audition. I asked him why he came and he said he loved the film, and explained that, “I am a Northerner and I want to participate in this film.”
I think the only old faces that we featured in Tsangayan Asali are Hadisu Saima and Hussaini Sule Koki, but all the others are new faces.
Is the film in series?
Tsangayan Asali actually was a feature length film; that’s a home video, but the audiences said no, you can’t tell us this story in just one hour 15 minutes, you guys have to expand this thing, that was why we had to sit down after the premiere with the script writer and the executive producer and expand it to be a serial film. So now we have already started the reproduction and we intend to go to Niger and Morocco.
How soon are we expecting this film to hit our screens?
I won’t say how soon because the preproduction has just started and the first stanza we did; that’s the feature length film, has been premiered. So we are trying to extend it to be a serial film. So definitely, people need to be patient, but we are going to release the first one we did; that’s the feature length film. We are going to release it online.
From Richard P Ngbokai & Ibrahim Musa Giginyu, Kano