Abdulkareem Papalaje is a popular scriptwriter in Kannywood. He wrote the scripts for celebrated films like 'Madubin Dubawa,' 'Adamsy,' 'Oga Abuja,' 'Ni da Matata' and 'Birnin Masoya.' He speaks to Weekend Magazine about becoming a scriptwriter and the many challenges that have brought him thus far.
How did you start writing?
I started writing in 2002. My first sponsor, was late Yaro Malam, who helped greatly, in getting my works published. Every book dealer I reached out to help publish my works, refused. So, being an indigene of Brigade Quarters and with the creation of the Brigade Writers Forum and I was made its public relations officer. Malam Yaro, had been attending our meetings and one day decided to sponsor the publication of four outstanding works. This was with the condition the writers of the selected works, would make part payment of N4,000 and he would make up the balance. In those days, publishing books cost about N25,000. It happened that at the time, I was almost penniless. Therefore, I sold off my TV set and a radio to raise the N4,000. After, he published my first book, 'Hansi,' he sold it within a short time and gifted me with about N17,000. The book made good sales and brought me into limelight.
What other books have you authored?
There's one titled 'Nura and Dandali,' and many others.
How did you switch from writing romance to scripting films?
Papalaje: It's a long story. It all started when I was dismissed from BUK (Bayero University Kano), for late registration. It [really] angered my dad, who attributed it to my negligence. Even though, I explained to him how it all happened and some professors from the department tried to intervene, but he was not convinced. I was asked by my mum to relocate to our residence in Hotoro. There, I met a good friend, Ibrahim Birniwa who was already in the business of scripting for films and understudied his methods. I got my chance to test all I had learned when he couldn't meet up with the second part of one of his scriptwriting commitments. Once he gave me permission to do it for him, I set to work and finished it in two days and submitted. They gave me the N20,000 balance earlier agreed with Ibrahim.
After they shot that film, they called Ibrahim praising him for capturing new dimension as they wished it. After he asked them, as to if the storyline was in tandem with how they wanted it to be, they said yes. It was then he told them, it was I who scripted this second part. This was the beginning of my scriptwriting journey.
Scriptwriting and book writing, which is more difficult?
To be sincere, scripting films is as easy as pie. But composing a book is much more demanding and time-consuming.
How would you describe scriptwriting when you started and what it is today?
Honestly, it was brisker and livelier in those days. Because of the seeming declining of film market/business, no one can dash you N100k to script them a film, presently.
You're being accused of polluting the morals and good conduct of youths, with the emergence of that ugly trend of incessant cases whereby housewives are attacking their husbands with fatal weapons. What's your take on that?
As far as I am concerned, it has nothing to do with the Hausa films, as this has been a known and old phenomenon in Hausa land. These ugly things occur, out of sheer envy and lack of parental care of our women. Once you are regular attendant of court sittings, it would be no longer a news to you.
How many and what are the films you have scripted, so far?
I have scripted numerous Hausa films, so far. I scripted 'Adamsy,' 'Madubin Dubawa,' 'Ni da matata' and 'Oga Abuja' as well as many others.
Since you have said that film market has totally collapsed, what's the way out?
There's one way out of the mess. It's only when the filmmakers gain that we the script writers can gain. Government should understand that there are hundreds of youths who earn a living through filmmaking. Beside this, filmmakers contributed significantly in the run up of the general elections, this is apart from the huge revenue we generate to the government. Therefore, government should establish cinemas of global and modern standard, whereby families can go to watch films, without any fear for their safety and free from vices. Cinemas that even if it's raining, one wouldn't know it. At the inception of filmmaking, it started this way. They organised shows in the cinemas in major towns, until they recouped the cost of producing the film and then released it to be reproduced in the markets.
What's your appeal to your two bosses, Ali Nuhu & Adam Zango; in the fact that they're at loggerheads?
I have nothing to tell them. I only pray that Allah may reunite them and [sort] their differences. But I want to advice their fans not to be distraught by their differences. Fans should desist from interfering between these two stars. It's only Allah alone who can intervene.