Idris Shuaibu Lilisco, 46, is a pioneer member of Kannywood. Lilisco who has so far won two awards tells ALIYU ASKIRA in this interview that he has proved those who think that Kannywood actresses don’t stay in marriage wrong because his wife that he married about 17 years ago is still in his house.
You normally play the role of a police officer in Kannywood movies; were you ever a policeman in real life?
No, I am a bloody civilian. But because of the way I play my role, even police officers commend me. In the streets, some people salute me thinking that I am actually a policeman, but my story is that after my primary and secondary education, I joined the Kano History and Culture Bureau and thereafter I went to Ahmadu Bello University Zaria for a certificate course. Upon the completion of that programme, I returned to the office. And because of the exceptional way I do my work, I was easily noticed by producers like the famous Kasimu Yero and I was given offers to feature in some Hausa films when acting was not even taken seriously in the north. People mostly watched drama and not video films.
After featuring in a film project for Kasimu Yero, you were involved in other films like Sangaya, Salamsalam. You also did some chronograph works for some producers before setting up a production company and then you disappeared. What really happened?
Yes, this is because even though I have my own production company, it is only recently that I have been given serious and powerful roles to play. I have been around, but involved in other activities which was why people hardly saw me. However, since my appearance in Gwaska, a film produced by Adam A. Zango, in which I featured as a no-nonsense police officer, I have become a celebrity and I have won about two awards. We spent about a year shooting Gwaska in Lagos, Kaduna, and other places; it is the most difficult film I ever featured in apart from Salamsalam.
You married in Kannywood about 17 years ago and the marriage is still intact. What’s the secret?
Well, it’s nothing but love and understanding. I met Zulaihat about 14 years ago when we featured in a film together. Thereafter, we fell in love and got married. I allowed her to go back to school to further her education, but when she finished and secured a job in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital she later left and now she is a fulltime housewife. I have another wife whom I married about 25 years ago and they are all at home and doing one business or the other. They both have four children each.
What specifically are the problems of Kannywood because the society does not have respect for some of your members?
Well, I am in a position to answer this question because I am the vice-chairman of Arewa Film Makers Association and Arewa Editors’ Guild. The truth is that there is no problem in Kannywood per se; we are into a profession that is watched by millions of people all over the world. When we make mistakes people will know easily. Today, people accuse our actresses of not making successful marriages, but marriages are being broken on a daily basis in other professions. However, people prefer to talk about Kannywood; for example, if a female artist gets married and later the marriage collapses for whatever reason, do you want us to reject her if she wants to come back? The answer is no!
How do you get the police uniforms you use in films? Do you sew them like other costumes?
No, why should we sew a police uniform? What we do is to approach the police authorities to negotiate with them, and they normally give us conditions on how to use them so that we will not abuse the privilege. In my own case, they admire the role I play in my films as a police officer. I don’t what will embarrass them; they usually provide us with their vehicles. But about the guns we use and whether the bullets are live bullets or not, let me tell you that no security agency will give a civilian gun with live bullets; it was all camera tricks.
You have been in the industry for quite some time now. Most of those you started out with are now rich and are doing well; people like Ali Nuhu, Fati Muhammed Sani Danja, Adam A. Zango, Shaibu Kumurci. Are you rich?
Riches come from God; most of those you mentioned are my personal friends even as I don’t have a god father in Kannywood. I am very comfortable in life; I have two wives, beautiful children, and a production company. Also, I’m very popular and a stakeholder in the industry and over the years I have acquired a lot of things through the industry which I don’t have to mention on the pages of newspapers. Honestly, I am grateful to God, I am just 47 years old and since life begins at 40, I still have a lot to contribute to the industry.
Will you allow your children to join Kannywood and have your attractive dance steps left you?
Yes, after Islamic and western education I will allow my children to act if they want to. About dancing, well, I don’t know because I am heavier now and a father of many children. There are some dancing steps that I cannot do now, but funny enough directors prefer to cast me as a police officer in most of their films. On my saddest moments, I am always sad when any of our members dies. My happy moment was usually after we finished the film, Gwaska, and I won two awards. Let me use this medium to thank Adam A. Zango for all he did for me; may Allah continue to lift his shoulders and all our members.