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‘Sudani from Nigeria’ actor settles payment row, says ‘no racism in Kerala’

Samuel Robinson has taken back his allegations that he was under-compensated for the Malayalam film because he is African.

Nigerian actor Samuel Robinson has withdrawn the allegation that he was underpaid for his role in the Malayalam film Sudani from Nigeria. The actor had claimed last week that he had received inadequate remuneration from producers Happy Hours Entertainment because he is African.

Sudani from Nigeria was released on March 23.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Robinson wrote that he had been contacted by the producers and “received confirmation receipt of payment for reasonable sum as salary” for the film. He also took back the accusation of racial discrimination. “I previously ascribed racial discrimination to the treatment I had received but deeper enlightenment and explanation by The Happy Hours Entertainment make me believe that this was not a case of racial discrimination but a case of misunderstanding, miscommunication and misinformation,” he wrote. “I would like to apologise to any person from Kerala who was offended by my previous statements. As this particular case is now confirmed to not be racial discrimination, I want to state that there is almost completely no Racism in Kerala and I believe Kerala is one of the friendliest places in Asia for an African to visit.”

Directed by Zakariya Mohammed, Sudani from Nigeria is the story of Samuel (Robinson), a football player who becomes part of a club in Kerala ahead of a seven-a-side football match. The film has reportedly done well in Kerala and is now expected to be released all over India.

In a Facebook post on March 31, Robinson had claimed that he had been underpaid for the role as compared to Indian actors. “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,” he wrote. “...I am of the opinion that this happened purely because of my skin colour and the assumption that all Africans are poor and don’t know the value of money.”

His remarks had drawn some criticism. In a Facebook post, Aanandam director Ganesh Raj claimed that Robinson had been misled by “someone who has no clue about industry standard pay”.

The director added, “Sad to see such strong accusations like Racism being thrown around with such a carefree attitude. Randomly accusing such well known names isn’t the right way to go about it. Best thing to do is to research your facts before you put it out there.”

In a second post, Robinson said he was “paid far less than the Malayalam newcomers are normally paid”.

He added, “I accepted this amount less than my usual quote in Nigeria because I was under the impression that it was a very small budget independent movie. Several citations off the internet confirm that this movie was, in fact, moderately budgeted. I have wholeheartedly supported the promotion of the movie in expectation of a positive financial compensation before returning to Nigeria as was promised. The movie has already nearly doubled its budget at the box office in just seven days due to the successful promotions.”

Robinson has now deleted these posts. In his latest remarks, the actor said that the reaction of some people from the Malayalam film industry prompted him to ascribe the inadequate compensation to racial discrimination. “To address the Jabs and Mockery posted against me and supported by some well-known actors and directors in Malayalam film Industry; people like these are the ones who made me ascribe racial discrimination to the treatment I had received in the first place,” he wrote.

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Sudani from Nigeria.
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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.