Writer Yakubu M Kumo and director Aminu Saira have made a name crafting complex story-driven dramas. For their latest collaboration MUNAFIKIN MATA, they took on some new challenge, offering their most reliable man Ali Nuhu an optimistic and manipulative character. The results are intriguing, and a times fascinating.
First thing first, MUNAFIKIN MATA marks an official re-union of actress Nafisat Abdullahi with director Aminu Saira and actor Ali Nuhu after series of events. She holds an ace up her sleeve: she is a talented actress. By chance or by intent, she landed this one. Suddenly, she is set to feature in FKD’s next project SIRRIN DAKE RAINA(with another upcoming talent, Rahma Sadau) and SAIRAMOVIES’ YA DAGA ALLAH. Coincidence? I think not. Her performance here is effortless and grounded. She is never looked more convincing as human. Now whether or not you thought these and her few extra pounds have anything to do with her new emotional freedom …er… Save that for another story.
MUNAFIKIN MATA tells a tale of Khamees (Ali NUhu) and his two wives Nafisat Abdullahi and Maryam Gidado. To Khamees, the only way he could sustain a peaceful and stable home is to make each of his wives feel superior. This he does by praising each in her presence and mocking the other not-around wife tagging their(with the absentee) relationship as “godly punishment.” In bringing Khamees to life, Ali deftly creates a character that is manipulative and later, lonely but never in the exaggerated Kannywood way we often see portrayed. It’s the actor’s evolution as he weaves through the ever-changing dynamics of his relationships with his wives that allows him to prove his talent. His real presence and performance makes the film’s unique premise work.
In an era where filmmakers prefer their movies with twinge of darkness and irony that mostly end up getting so confused and lost within themselves desperately trying to convince audience, abusing their intelligence and wasting their time in doing so, A.S Mai Kwai keeps reminding us that there’s nothing wrong with shallow entertainment and MUNAFIKIN MATA is buoyant enough to deliver. So yes! Mai Kwai Movies are not high art, but they have fun characters and stories to tell and the stars are often invested in his movies. In a way, they comment on society and say something about the human condition and then get out of the way so you can get on with your life.
Come on! We are all tired of bunch of cliche life advice from an old guy that appears for no reason and forced “emotional” moments that attempt to trick us into thinking the movie is real, written by humans and everything. Luckily, refusing to fall prey to the kind of over-plotting and melodrama that have been the hallmark of kannywood, Yakubu M Kumo replaced all that with witty and smart script.
MUNAFIKIN MATA isn’t a bunch of great characters in a weak script, not a good idea with no where to go, not an advertisement for some upcoming movie connection but a fun little family movie. Aminu Saira’s approach to the material is outstanding. Everything seems human and not with the kind of raw tension you get from over-dramatised, unnecessarily energized movie.
If I have any complaint against MUNAFIKIN MATA, it will be that characters are not fully developed. For example, had Nafisat and Maryam Gidado given an un-identical personality to work side-by-side with Ali Nuhu, the film would have turned out different. The movie never attempts to work any harder than it has to. It leans too much on its culturally-established characters.
The old saying goes that love of money is the root of all evil. It’s a principle that movies seem to embrace, but in the end often abandon in favor of some predictable plot shifts. The moral is applied in MUNAFIKIN MATA for the makers didn’t attempt to drag it with a big, pointy teeth! And it is no surprise to see that it retains its cinematic legitimacy. A.S Mai Kwai earns his tons of gorgeous white with a movie meant to be enjoyed just for the fun of it.
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