Kerala

Nigerian actor accuses Kerala film producers of racial discrimination in payment

Soubin Shahir and Samuel Abiola Robinson in a still from Sudani from Nigeria

Soubin Shahir and Samuel Abiola Robinson in a still from Sudani from Nigeria   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Samuel Abiola Robinson alleges being paid much lesser than the Indian actors

Nigerian actor Samuel Abiola Robinson, who starred in the recent Malayalam film Sudani from Nigeria, has accused the producers of the film of paying him a much lesser amount than the Indian actors, attributing it to racial discrimination. Terming it as racial discrimination, the actor said in a facebook post that “the producers offered me far less money than Indian actors who are not half as popular, experienced or accomplished as I am would normally earn”.

“I only became better enlightened after meeting with several young actors and discussing payment with them. I am of the opinion that this happened purely because of my skin color and the assumption that all Africans are poor and don't know the value of money. The director and writer Zakariya did his best to help but as he was not financing the movie himself, there was very little change he could foster,” he says in the post.

He says that he was made to believe that it was a low-budget independent film, when they started out.

“Promises were made to me by the producers while shooting to pay me more if the movie eventually becomes successful but no promise has been honoured and now I am back in Nigeria. I believe the promises were simply tools of manipulation to get me to eagerly commit the five months of availability for the shoot and promotion of the movie. The movie is a huge commercial success now and I am grateful for all the love that the fans have shown me and I have been privileged to experience the warm culture of Kerala but I can no longer suffer in silence about this,” he says.

‘No promise of payment’

Later, speaking to The Hindu from Nigeria, Mr.Robinson said that, he had made repeated attempts to speak to the producers about it, but got no response.

“During the promotions too, I had mentioned this, but they just changed the subject. I didn't want to be pushy. When I was leaving from there two days back, I was given a cheque for a meagre amount. I was very upset and crying in the plane. I felt abused. I came back and sent an e-mail, which they ignored. It was only after I put up the facebook post that I got a message from them, asking me to take down the post. But still there was no promise of payment,” he says.

As per a message that a representative of the producers sent to him, they had wished to pay everyone who is part of the movie more money, once the movie becomes a success. “But, for that to happen the money has to reach our hands literally. That’s something which has to happen on humanitarian ground for which friendship and compassion are vital,” says the message. The producers were not reachable for their comment.

'Not a newcomer'

After he put up the Facebook post, several people from the state had commented on it, saying that this was not a case of racial discrimination and that he should be thankful for the “opportunity” that he got. But the actor says that he was in no way a new comer, having acted in several film and television productions in Nigeria, including Desperate Housewives Africa, produced by Walt Disney.

“I am not a newcomer. I have lost a lot of paid work in Nigeria for this movie. My goal is not to taint or defame anyone. I just want a fair payment. As I am black, it is my responsibility to speak up because it could ease the suffering of the next generation of black actors,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:34:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/nigerian-actor-accuses-kerala-producers-of-racial-discrimination-in-payment/article23399129.ece

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