‘Sudani from Nigeria’ actor cites racism and unfair remuneration practices in Kerala’s film industry

"I did experience racial discrimination from producers in Kerala."

Anoop Menon Published :  31st March 2018 01:55 PM   |   Published :   |  31st March 2018 01:55 PM

Samuel (right) with film producers Shyju and Sameer

“Is he playing the card?”. That was one Facebook user’s comment, implying the race card while making a sly reference to the football aspect of the sleeper-hit film Sudani From Nigeria. Until a day ago, such distasteful comments by anonymous Malayalis were a rarity on actor Samuel Abiola Robinson’s social media accounts.

That’s because his debut Indian film—produced by Sameer Thahir and Shyju Khalid—was extremely well-received in Kerala, despite having no A-list stars or heroines. The film, where Samuel is the protagonist, is a heart-warming tribute to the kind-hearted and welcoming nature of people living in the soul of Malabar’s football-crazy region.

“I believe that I was a victim of racial discrimination while in Kerala. It was nothing violent or directly in my face but for my role in Sudani from Nigeria, the producers offered me far less money than Indian actors—who are not half as popular or accomplished as I am—would normally earn,” shared the Nigerian actor on Instagram. Samuel, whose IMDB page credits him as being part of three films and several TV shows, states the aforementioned Malayalam film’s director, Zakariya, did his best to help him but couldn’t do much.

In a video uploaded, a few hours ago, Samuel goes on to claim that he been paid less than `5 lakh—whereas Malayalam newcomers may receive between `10-`20 lakh—and was promised that if the movie became a success, he would be paid more. And so far, Samuel says no such promises have been fulfilled. “As I am black, it is my responsibility to speak up because it could ease the suffering of the next generation of black actors. Say no to racial or caste discrimination,” he states.

Due to the massive backlash on social media from Malayali film-goers, who seem to blindly oppose all notions of racism in their home state, the 20-year-old actor has made several follow-up social posts where he clearly explains, “I do not think that Kerala people are racist—as I experienced no such racist treatment from the general Kerala public. I very much enjoyed my stay in Kerala, the culture, the Biryani and all.”

The filmmakers are yet to make an official statement.

Edit: Official response from Happy Hours Entertainment, the production house behind Sudani From Nigeria