Yusuf Muhammad Saseen is an actor in the Kannywood movie industry who has featured in a number of movies including the latest Hausa television series Kwana Casa’in and Labarina
In this interview with DAILY FOCUS reporter Zahraddeen Yakubu, Mr Saseen talks about how he joined Kannywood, the Hausa movie industry, despite being one of its fiercest critics previously.
Can you share a little about yourself?
Saseen: My name is Yusuf Muhammad Abdullahi, but popularly known in the Kannywood movie industry as Saseen. I was born in Kwalli Quarters in the heart of Kano City. I attended Gidan Makama Special Primary School for my primary education and also attended the famous Rumfa College for my secondary education.
I also obtained a National Diploma in Accounting from Fidei Polythecnic in Gboko local government area of Benue state before proceeding to Saint Felicite University in Benin Republic where I obtained a B.Sc in Business Management.
Growing up, I was a Tomboy, very slim and tall, I had fun as a child, I was surrounded by a wonderful family and community who supported and nurtured me with great values which have really impacted on me as a person.
When did you join Kannywood and why?
Saseen: I joined Kannywood in 2017 and I considered my coming into the industry as accidental, because in the beginning, I was one of those that are against and always criticizing the movie industry particularly Kannywood.
I despised the Hausa film industry because as of then, I felt the industry had deviated from both our religious and cultural values. Along the line I felt that two wrongs cannot make a right, and if you want to right a wrong, you must be part and parcel of that project.
As time went on, I started developing an interest, and fortunately, I had some few of my friends that are part of the industry. To cut the long story short, it all happened that I got a call from one of the best script writers in the industry, Ibrahim Birniwa and we talked about getting me on. He convinced me that I have a good look and physique and I’ll fit in as an actor.
How many films did you feature in so far?
I have starred in over 30 full movies so far, and they include Camfi, Amatullah, Wata Tafiya and Mizani in addition to television series like Labarina, and Kwana Casa’in.
For me I won’t say there is any particular film that is my best, because in every film I acted, I just don’t delve into acting without reading the scripts, if it suits me, I go into it, so any of the movie or series I acted is my best. Moreover, I want to always be the best that I can be in the movies world. There is no stopping now.
Kannywood appears to be divided into factions now, what is happening?
Saseen: For me I don’t think the Kannywood movie industry is divided into factions. Though way back, at the heat of political campaigns, some politicians particularly from the North got busy by using any means possible to sway the people to their side as you know politics is a game of numbers, and who has the greatest number carries the day.
A tried and trusted tactic of gaining popularity is by endorsement. Simply get people who are already popular in their rights and get them to endorse you, you might get a chunk of their followers by your side.
So during that period, the politicians used those tactics to seek the support of those artists to join their campaign train. Their weight and popularity as celebrities did play a big role in their eventual victory, and that contributed a lot in bringing division in the industry.
However, despite the roles played by those artists to garner support for politicians which yielded positive results, but at the end after emerging victorious, those politicians dumped our fellow artistes. We learned it the hard way because that make us realise that what unites us is greater than what divides us.
And by the grace of God, the industry is united, so I don’t think there are factions in the industry.
It appears that Kannywood is shifting attention to TV series, why?
Saseen: Definitely yes, television series movies are popular and I can categorically say they are overtaking feature movies. TV Series are becoming famous because of the quality content they offer, which is better than that of conventional movies.
There are actually so many Hausa TV shows out there now in many television stations, and so many new ones being made at such a rapid pace.
You probably know from your own experience that we’re in something of a golden age of television.
Another dynamic that is driving the growing success of series films over feature films is due to the fact that some of the most talented actors today are actually opting to work on series rather than movies.
This adds to the both the credibility and the quality of the series, which raises the question of why this shift is happening.
Coming to the question on the development of series to the industry, there are lots of developments, because you can watch television in the comfort of your home with people you choose and at affordable prices.
How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect the industry?
Saseen: The Covid-19 pandemic has really affected the movie industry. I am also affected because most of the roles I get are based on physical interactions, which are now discouraged as part of social distancing rules.
But despite the shortcomings and the challenges, I was able to disseminate information on the pandemic which includes staying home to stay safe, self-isolation and quarantine, hand washing and taking other precautionary measures.
What is your message to your fans?
I want to use this opportunity to thank them all for their immense and total support every step of the way. My fans are the real definition of loyalty and integrity. I love them and will always do!