Published: 09th April 2018
Dulquer follows me on Insta: Sudani from Nigeria's star in a post-wage war world
Samuel Abiola Robinson talks about his love for acting, discovering Indian cinema and promoting equality within all spaces
Sudani From Nigeria was a film that film audiences in Kerala didn't know they needed. As they left theatres tear-soaked and hopeful, one bedridden athlete's call for his 'manager' had already become an iconic movie line. This man is Samuel Abiola Robinson, the first Nigerian national to grace our screens in a leading role. Although Samuel's relation to our film industry was subject to questions in recent days, the actor himself is clear about his intentions to stay. Here are a few excerpts from a gripping conversation with Kerala's favourite new actor:
How did you first develop a passion for acting?
I have had a deep love for acting since I was a child. My first performance was on a church stage at the age of 7. It was for a play and I remember that I was so excited about it, all dressed up with a fake beard and grey hair. But my first role in a film came much later at the age of 15.
What were your expectations for the Indian film industry before you got involved in Sudani from Nigeria?
Before this opportunity came to me, I had submitted applications for some Hollywood movies and hoped for a big break there but I never expected to be cast in an Indian movie. What I've learnt about the Indian film industry is that it is very diverse. Being chosen for the role of Samuel in Sudani from Nigeria was a big surprise for me and it was such a wonderful new experience. I feel very privileged to be the first African to play a major role in an Indian movie.
Could you tell us a little about the experience of shooting this film and what you learned from it? What drew you to the role?
The filming process was mostly fun and an intense learning experience. I think the major thing I learned from it was how to act in spite of language barriers. The film was an opportunity to make history as one of the first African leads in an Indian movie and that added to the experience.
What do you love about Malayalam cinema? How is it different from Nigerian cinema?
The only difference between the industries is the language. Movies are loved in Nigeria as much as they are loved in Kerala and filmmakers in both industries try their best to make great quality movies. My favourite actors in Malayalam are Dulquer Salman, Mohanlal, Mammootty and Sai Pallavi. Dulquer Salman recently followed me on Instagram and I was on top of the world!
You have been outspoken about discrimination from the producers of Sudani. What response have you gotten and how can cinema, in general, become a more open and accepting place?
The Minister for Finance in Kerala, Dr Thomas Issac himself intervened in the issue that we had and demanded that the producers pay me a fair wage. I am very grateful for his support. I have been paid a fair compensation and all the issues that we had have been resolved.
Do you plan on acting in more Indian films in the future?
Definitely! I am hopeful to get more opportunities where I get to explore the Tamil, Telugu, Marathi and Hindi film industries in India. I would be very happy to consider offers from these industries and of course, to be a part of more Malayalam movies as well.
What projects have you got lined up now?
Right now, I'm in talks with a few brands for endorsements and commercial projects. My upcoming movies are still in their pre-production stages and I will talk about them and share their status as soon as they are on the next stage.