After Namaste Wahala, expect more Africa-focused stories

Hamisha Daryani Ahuja, Executive Producer of Namaste Wahala in this interview with BusinessDay’s Glory Usoro talks about the collaboration between Indian and Nigerian cultures to foster the entertainment industry and show how rich and diverse the culture is.

How have things been going since Namaste Wahala was filmed?

Things have been going great both professionally and personally. I am very excited and humbled at the impact my first production and directorial debut made.

The momentum has been incredible, and I cannot wait to show the world more. I love the quote ‘’Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.’’ It is exactly where I am in this industry.

What was the cost of shooting the movie?

Unfortunately, we are unable to disclose the budget of the movie.

What collaboration did you do to make the movie ‘Namaste Wahala’ successful?

The collaboration between the Indian and Nigerian cultures, industries, and people was a winning combo for our movie. I tried to ensure both cultures were represented both in front and behind the scenes.

We shot the entire production in Nigeria with a Nigerian crew and then proceeded to do post-production in India with an Indian crew.

To start my journey off, FilmOne was my consultant and helped guide me through the processes as it was my first film. Also, it was wonderful showcasing our movie to the world through Netflix as they took our production global which was an exciting journey to experience.

What is your view of the Nollywood industry?

I love the industry and like to consider myself an active member of it. I look forward to doing a lot more work on it. I believe the talent is on another level and the potential of this industry is still very untapped.

What can Nollywood learn from Bollywood?

Bollywood as an industry started off just like Nollywood. It began in the 1930s but really only hit its golden age in the late 1940s when India got its Independence. It then proceeded to become an enormous economic empire.

Today it is the largest film industry in the world in terms of volume. My hunch is Nollywood is on a similar trajectory and we will be contending with the likes of Bollywood and Hollywood very soon. We already are.

Read also: 8 movies, shows to expect on Netflix in July

What do you think has kept Bollywood to become number one in movie production?

Apart from the talent and stories along with the culture and beauty that are Bollywood movies, Bollywood also grew at a very apt time when economic trade was increasing throughout the world.

The movies being adapted for global audiences through subtitling and dubbing, Bollywood movies grew at a very fast pace. The Indian population and diaspora only helped further this growth in demand and hence, the production of Bollywood movies.

What is the future of movie distribution, streaming, and cinema?

I strongly believe both cinema and streaming need to co-exist. The eco-system always needed each other and therefore I believe both are the future of movie distribution.

Although I love how streaming platforms allow movies to travel so wide and far covering all budgets, genres, and cultures.

What drove your decision to do a movie again with Nollywood?

It was an easy decision. ‘Namaste Wahala’ made such an impact on the world and was such a magical journey that there was no way I would stop there. I am excited at the opportunities ahead and the ability to show Africa to the world.

I have grown up in Nigeria and feel truly blessed that the world can now see how rich and diverse the culture is here.

What was the revenue of Namaste in terms of number, viewership, and earnings?

We released our movie straight to Netflix. Due to the pandemic, we were unable to release it in the cinema, and we were very excited that ‘Namaste Wahala’ trended all over the world and was actually the first Nollywood movie to trend in the U.S, U.K., and India Top ten along with many other countries. At one point it was number six in the top ten movies being watched in the world.

Is there a need for homegrown streaming services that can also appeal to a global audience?

There is a need just as it is in India where there are global streaming services and local home-grown streaming services. Homegrown streaming services allow for variety, representation along with localization for content-hungry consumers in India.

As mentioned before, I believe Nollywood is on a similar growth path and it is only a matter of time where consumers will be choosing or subscribing to multiple local and international services realising that quality content does come at a cost.

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