Umar Yahaya Malumfashi popularly known as ‘Bankaura’ has been a household name in Kannywood industry for about three decades. He is known for his versatility in interpreting various roles and has been on the forefront of promoting what is known today as Kannywood. He speaks about his early years, and life in the industry, among other issues. Excerpts:
Weekend Magazine: How did you get into the entertainment industry?
Umar Bankaura: I started acting as a stage drama artist. My first act was in primary school during the Children’s Day celebrations. It was an interesting moment for every pupil back then, because it was then that extra-curriculum activities would be displayed for all to see. The authorities of both secondary and the primary schools would invite the then emir of Katsina [for the event] and he honoured such invitations.
That was how I started acting stage drama and since then, I have never looked back. It was from one drama group to the other until 1982 when I was discovered by a producer with the then NTV Kaduna. He saw my potentials and auditioned me into TV acting where I stared acting alongside actors like the late Kasimu Yero, Usman Baba Pategi (Samanja) and a lot of others.
WM: What were those early days like?
Bankaura: I was in Kaduna then acting drama with Zumunta’ Social Club’. We used to stage dramas at the Kaduna office of the National Museum. It was after one of our drama sessions that the late Muhammed Umar Hassan, the then producer of a TV drama titled ‘Tambari’ noticed me. After our drama session, he called me aside and introduced himself to me as the producer of ‘Tambari.’ He asked me to see him in his office at NTV Kaduna the following day. That marked the beginning of my featuring alongside people like Kasimu Yero.
I also played in ‘Samanja’ as Sauran Mazan Jiya. Gradually, I became an independent artiste. A TV comedy drama was created titled ‘Ruwan Dare’ in which I played the lead role as Shegen Sama. All this while, I was not employed. It was during this period that I got employment with the Nigerian Customs and I continued with my acting with no intemperance from any angle.
WM: How would you compare acting then to what holds today?
Bankaura: Acting is the same everywhere you go. The issue you ought to have asked is the practical aspect of it. You see, initially, we took acting just as a hobby. We were into it because we believe it was an avenue to serve our respective communities. Therefore, money wasn’t at any point an issue. However, today things have changed. Acting is now a profession and a business venture that people invest in and also expect profit from. Perhaps, this is what makes the two eras different.
WM: How did you get the name Bankaura?
Bankaura: The name came to be when I was contacted by the then CTV now called Abubakar Rimi Television (ARTV), to play a new character in the reigning ‘Nadaka’ comedy. It was anchored by one of the finest artistes, I have ever met in the entertainment industry, Garba Ilu, popularly known as Dankurma. I was asked to pick a character name and he said: ‘If I choose Bankaura, will that be alright?’ We laughed over it, and that was how the character Bankaura was introduced and I wrote the first play of that comedy.
Due to the role I played in the comedy series, everyone became so attached to the name, ‘Bankaura’ and that was how it later became my stage name till date.
WM: In the about three decades of being in the entertainment industry what would you say is your unforgettable moment?
Bankaura: That would be when my boss, the then Controller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, nominated me to steer the Service’s informational television series, sponsored by the Service, titled ‘The Frontier.’ In it I played the role of custom’s CG with all privileges of a CG, but in an artistic acting manner.
This has been my unforgettable moment, because I have never dreamt of wearing a uniform with the rank of CG, but I was recognized by the Service. I cherished playing the role of CG.
Another moment was when I was selected without my knowledge to be the character found fit to be the star to feature in a Power Pasta advert. I was taken to India where we shot the advert and this happened without my knowing what led to my selection. It was indeed a joyous moment for me to see that someone somewhere is appreciating what we do for a living. I have travelled far and wide, in recognition of what I do as an actor.
WM: Any regret?
Bankaura: None, I will always remain grateful to God for making us who we are today.
WM: Where do you see Kannywood in the next five years?
Bankaura: You see, development is not an instant thing, but rather gradual processes that needs patience and endurance. Kannywood is indeed trending on the path of development in terms of the storyline and equipment used. Even composition of the artistes has experienced a tremendous development. Kannnywood will surely rise up to a level that we will all be proud of.