Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bollywood in Northern Nigeria

This article is 12 years old but still relevant and worth a read. The Kano video film market is more strongly influenced by Bollywood in terms of themes and formats than its southern equivalent, so its interesting to ask the question why Northern video films were more influenced. There is also the question of in what way the current Censorship crisis in Kano might in part be a consequence of developments within Bollywood - away from more conservative storylines to more Westernised themes and influences - and how this Westernisation has led to a parallel Westernisation of Hausa videos.


CM 5:48 pm  

Great questions, and Brian Larkin's research and analysis is brilliant. But I think the overwhelming focus on the influence of Bollywood themes/formats in Hausa films (which is obviously there--but critics here in Kano often say that the Indian influence is ALL that is there--that there is no originality in the Hausa films) risks overlooking ways in which filmmakers are actually reflecting on contemporary Hausa society. More recent Hausa films are of course inflenced by more recent Indian films, with their more "Westernized themes and influences." That's a fair enough statement to make. But they are also reflecting (sometimes in a stylized fashion) the actual lives of young people living in Northern Nigeria right here and right now. This is a somewhat controversial point to make, as critics I have spoken to often say that the films are reflecting ONLY foreign cultural imperialism. But as filmmakers I have spoken to have said "culture changes." I can't tell you how many times filmmakers have also told me that "this is a true story." "This really happened." "This happened to my neighbor." So, yes, changes in Bollywood have changed Hausa films. But so have changes in Kano, in Nigeria, in NileSat, in MTV, etc. etc. etc.

Anonymous,  10:53 pm  

Hey Jeremy,

Just noticed your stats, with so much traffic, why don't you monetize this blog? Between google adwords and flights to Naija etc... you could clean up!

Lost at The End 11:04 pm  

Hi Carmen,

How are you? Longest time. Stopped by your blog. Loved the interview with Habila. Also, I did not know about the Iyan-tama case. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous,  2:07 pm  

IMHO the censorship board and the A daidaita sahu seem to say they object to the singing and dancing, and thats all they seem to talk about. -its not part of our culture, etc.

I don't think they really engage with film on any level above a very limited viewpoint that film should represent "real" hausa life.
At least that was what they kept saying to me about their objections.

They don't seem to be really bothered about the plotlines or characters of movies as reasons to ban them (at least thats not what they say), although I did ask one guy from ADDS if he saw a film about a powerful political figure who stole money from the people and had many girlfriends, and got away with it, should that film be banned? He said "yes", so they can't be that dedicated to "real life" in Kano. ;)

I think they just want film as a way of reinforcing traditional and islamic rules (what a coincidence that they are the ones who benefit from their reinforcement directly!)

It's indicative of a small clique of very mentally inflexible people who can't really understand concepts in art or filmmaking like plot, bathos, pathos, character, tone or even metaphore, who have been let loose with a big stick to hit people with, probably for some deeper political motive.

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