In my recent interview with VOA, I mentioned that one of the things that first drew me to Hausa films is the singing and dancing. Let me explain a little bit more. I love the singing and dancing in the films because it is both an enjoyable break from the storyline with a bit of spectacle and, often, an important moment in commenting on the overall storyline (whether foreshadowing, summarizing, or sermonizing upon the larger events of the film.) The singing and dancing is pleasurable to watch and also tends to be more tightly edited and choreographed than the rest of the film.
While I know many critics who don’t like the songs and dances and also know quite a few filmmakers who tell me they want to make films without singing and dancing, I hate to see this aspect of Kannywood films be dismissed without thought. The song and dance sequences are what distinguish Hausa films from their Nollywood neighbors and, when well done, add a great deal of pleasure to the experience of watching the films.
In the interview I mentioned a few videos, which I will insert here. The first is Jamila Chassis with Sani Danja and Mansura Isa (who later married in real life). I have actually only seen the song and dance on YouTube and have not watched the entire film. But it is one of the most delightful Kannywood song and dances I have ever seen, both for the catchy song but also because of the goofy flirtatious dancing. While I know many are concerned about the objectification of women in these dances, the dancing here is playful rather than sexual–and milder than most dancing I’ve seen at wedding bikis in Kano.
I also mentioned the song Zazzabi, again with Sani Danja and Mansura Isa, although this time the main characters are not dancing. The cinematography here is a bit grey, static and unimpressive, but I think the editing to the music is well done. Most impressive are the lyrics, sung by Sadiq Zazzabi, and the way in which the song edited together with shots of the main characters metaphorically encapsulates the story of the film. I will not elaborate here because I don’t want to ruin the twists and turns the story takes. However, the song interacts with the larger story brilliantly.
Finally, I mentioned the choreography in Albashi 2 (starring Abbas Sadiq, Zainab Idris, and Adam A. Zango), which I think is quite well done. I also love the costumes and the attention to colour here. I have here a trailer for Albashi 2 rather than a selection of the entire song (the genre of the trailer for Hausa films is worthy of a post in and of itself), but I think it illustrates what I mean. The pleasure, at least for me, is not in the “shaking body” of the female dancer (as is sometimes asserted in critiques of the dancing in films) but in the choreography and colour of the piece. Start watching at 1:08.
There are other examples I will elaborate on this blog another time, but let me share one last delightful example from the trailer for Shugabanci. Start at timecode 1:37. How can you not love a dancing “Nigeria”?!!