Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Nigerian Actor Accuses Kerala Filmmakers of Racial Discrimination

Samuel Abiola Robinson

A Nigerian actor, who was part of a recent Malayalam movie, has accused its producers of “racial discrimination” after noticing alleged disparity in the payment between him and his Indian co-stars, PTI reported.  According to the actor named Samuel Abiola Robinson, even the least experienced Indian newcomer in the Malayalam film industry would be paid considerably more than what he received.

Robinson, who was essaying the role of a footballer in the movie Sudani from Nigeria, wrote in a Facebook post that he was paid less as he is “black.” The actor said it was his responsibility to speak up to “ease the suffering of the next generation of black actors.”  The movie, which was about a football club in Malappuram district of Kerala, opened to rave reviews and is seeing packed theater in the southern Indian state since its release on March 23.

In his post, Robinson says that he does not want this kind of discrimination to happen to another “helpless young black actor.” Robinson returned to Nigeria after the celebration of the film’s success.

His post said: “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 (sic).

“I was paid less than 3 lakhs,” the actor said in response to a comment on his Facebook post.

In a follow-up post, Robinson said he did not receive any racist treatment from people of Kerala, and that he loves the state and enjoyed the “biryani”. He added: “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.

Robinson, 19, said that he made his judgement after discussing payment with several other young actors. “I am of the opinion that this (underpayment) happened purely because of my skin color and the assumption that all Africans are poor and don’t know the value of money,” he alleged.

The actor did not blame debutante director Mohamed Zakaria, saying “there was little change he could foster” as he was not financing the movie himself. Zakaria was unavailable for comments, the report said.

“I believe the promises (by the producers) were simply tools of Manipulation to get me to eagerly commit the 5 months of availability for work being October, November, December 2017, January and March 2018 for the shoot and promotion of the movie (sic),” Robinson said.

The producers Sameer Thahir and Shyju Khalid have not responded to allegations. Some Malayalam film directors, however, came forward in support of the filmmakers.

“I’m pretty sure this is the result of some misunderstanding and immaturity on the part of the actor,” Ganesh Raj told the New Indian Express, saying that the actor should have made the disagreement clear in the beginning itself. “Someone close to Samuel must have mislead him. I have gone through his Facebook statements and I’ve seen the figures; the amount paid to him, in my view, was not just fair, it was more than fair. He seems to have no understanding of how the Malayalam industry works. ”

In the movie, said to be a “comedy drama,”  Robinson’s character becomes a part of local soccer club in Malappuram.

Robinson began his career as an actor in 2013. He has appeared in several productions in Africa, such as Walt Disney’s Desperate Housewives Africa.