Monday Malayalam: Sudani from Nigeria, a Shared Humanity

What a beautiful movie.  A beautiful movie about people caring for people just because they are fellow people.  Across the boundaries of language, appearance, background, everything else.

I just put up a post on Saturday about how I navigate being in a culture that is visibly not my own, that is, how the color of my skin effects how I interact with people as an Indian film scholar/fan.  And here is this movie as a perfect counterpart to that discussion!  It’s not about white privilege or Indian film or anything else specific to what I was talking about, but it is about cross-cultural and cross-racial interactions and how complicated they can be.  And how shared interests, in this case soccer and in my case film, can bridge those gaps.

Image result for sudani from nigeria

Although, now that I look up the cast, in a way it is film which is bridging the gap here too.  Samuel Abiola Robinson is amazing as the hero of the film.  He has a face that makes you want to smile back at him, or cry when he cries, or worry when he is worried.  It’s a rare thing in an actor, and very valuable, that sort of easy empathy with him.  And I am not surprised to find that he is a star in his own country, Nigeria.

I’ve only seen a couple of Nigerian films, but I know it is a country that was highly influenced by Hindi cinema, and their popular film industry uses many elements inspired by Indian film.  At the same time, I know that they are the biggest popular industry in Africa.  The French influenced films of Senegal, especially Sembene’s films, may get more mention in film history books, but it is the Nigerian films that play in theaters, on home video screens, and now on satellite channels through out the world.  Similar to Satyajit Ray versus Raj Kapoor.

And, like popular Hindi film versus the parallel cinema options, the “Nollywood” films are much better than they are often given credit for.  Which is what I was reminded of watching Samuel Abiola Robinson in this.  As an actor, he easily dominated the film.  Without language, without being from the same cultural traditions, he was still better than everyone else.  He is part of the new post-2000s era of Nigerian film, an artistic blossoming which attracts a box office more than 10 times as big as Malayalam films.

So, here’s the thing.  Samuel Abiola Robinson is a major star in the second biggest film industry in the world (second to Indian film based on number of movies made).  He, out of a sense of artistic curiosity, generosity, I don’t know what, has agreed to be in a Kerala film.  But this major major star, is playing an immigrant desperate for money, shelter, and basic human kindness, helped by the generosity of the common people of Kerala who he reveres.

Is this insulting?  Saying that because he is black, and African, he is clearly at a lower financial and social position than the Malayalis?  At first glance, yes.  But I think that isn’t what is happening at all.  The majority of Nigerians, and other Africans, in India are struggling.  Looked down on, powerless, desperate for work and for respect.  And they go home at night and watch Nigerian movies, just as NRIs go home and watch Indian films.  And here is one of their stars, taking a leap and making an effort to represent them onscreen.  Humbling himself to better reflect their situation.  Similar to Rajinikanth starring in a film set in Malaysia.

And from the other side of things, the Malayalis who made this movie could have so easily decided that one African is as good as another (what the title makes fun of, the “Sundani” who is actually from Nigeria), cast anyone in the lead.  But instead they reached out and found an experienced actor from the country they wanted to represent.  Before the film even begins, there is already a moment of hands joining and reaching out across vast distances.


(Moimeme alerted me yesterday to a payment issue with Samuel.  I looked into it, and was unsurprised to learn that the issue came not from the director/writer of the film but from his backers.  Samuel specified that the director treated him well, and mentioned that he only learned of the payment issue thanks to talking with other actors, which indicates they treated him fairly as well.  So, another example of racism being prevalent in Indian society, but not prevalent within the people directly working on this film.)

That’s what this movie is.  The ease of making that connection, human to human.  It’s not about learning languages or explaining each other’s culture, or even the soccer which initially united them, it is about the universals.  Love, caring, food, family, an old woman stroking a young man’s forehead while he calls her “Mama”, without either of them even knowing the other’s name.











I was confused when this movie started because the only actor I recognized in the opening scenes was Soubin Shahir, an always excellent character actor who I saw most recently in Carbon where I was more interested in his character than Fahad Fazil’s.  I was excited to think he might be the lead character, but also confused since he doesn’t have the charisma to really carry a film, not all the way.

And then we kept following him, the character actor, through his very undramatic life.  He is trying to manage a small soccer team in Kerala, he has all the players put up in a room, he himself lives in his family home with his mother.  There is never enough money to go around, he barters for more from the competition organizers and then promptly gives it all away to his players.  He fights with the referees and gives advice to his players, and so on and so on.  It’s a long tiring tedious life, filled with passion for the sport and a hope that someday they will win a match, get a sponsor, be able to breath a bit instead of living moment to moment.

But that’s not what the film is about, not really.  We see this so that we can understand how life is, you are so focused on your own short term goals that it is hard to see the other goals if life, the other people around you.  Soubin is thinking about his team, about winning, about having enough money day to day.  He doesn’t have time to sit back and think about why his players might have been willing to come all the way from Nigeria, what they may need the money for.

The audiences enters into Samuel’s life through Soubin.  And so we don’t think much about Samuel at first either.  He is part of the team, we want the team to win, we enjoy watching Soubin try to learn Yoruba while they learn Malayalam.  We are caught up in the day to day challenges of money and sports training and so on.  When Samuel is injured in a fall in the bathroom, like Soubin our first thought is how they will pay the hospital bill, if he will recover in time for the tournament.

Samuel is brought back to Soubin’s home mostly because it is cheaper to bring him home for home nursing than to stay at the hospital.  But there is some small element of humanity to it.  Soubin and the rest of the team agree that they need to take care of Samuel, they can’t just leave him in the hospital, they brought him here.  Soubin’s friend/co-manager pledges his wife’s gold in order help pay the expenses.  There is a basic level of kindness.  But unaware kindness. Samuel is a person to them, but not really a friend.

Even when Samuel is in Soubin’s house, Soubin still doesn’t really see him.  He jokes with him about all his girlfriends, about how popular he is getting as a player.  But he doesn’t ask who it is that Samuel needed to call, borrowing Soubin’s phone.  He doesn’t notice that Samuel cries when he is alone in the room.  And when he learns Samuel borrowed money from a rival team owner, he is furious and doesn’t bother asking for more explanation, or considering what Samuel might have needed the money for.

Even so, at first, it appears that Soubin is the closer friend to Samuel.  His mother, his mother’s friend, the other neighbors, they treat him as a curiosity, call him “Sudani” instead of his name, are fascinated at the idea of this black man on bed rest at Soubin’s house.  A neighbor couple even comes to have their photo taken with him.  But, slowly, that changes.  First with his mother, the process of washing his body, feeding him food, all the little moments of caring for him, it naturally breaks down barriers between them.  When Samuel has a severe fever, it is Soubin’s mother who notices first and insists on taking him to the hospital.  More importantly, when Soubin is furious having learned that Samuel took money from his rival and wants to leave Samuel in the hospital with his fever, it is Soubin’s mother who demands that he be brought back to her home, that she continue to care for him.  Somehow, across the boundaries of language (Samuel speaking almost no Malayalam and Soubin’s mother speaking no English), she has come to love him and care for him and wants him back in her house.

That is how easy it is to make these connections.  You just need to sit there together and feel each other’s humanity with yours.  The same thing happens, eventually, with Soubin.  He hears a rumor that Samuel might be filing a case against him for fraud and abuse and his friend recommends that he go home and make nice with Samuel.  And so they sit together, and he asks Samuel about his family, who he is sending money to and why.  For the first time seeing him as another person, in an attempt to make Samuel see him as a person and not punish him.

Of course the rumor is false, Samuel had no such thought in his head.  And instead of Samuel becoming sympathetic to Soubin through the conversation, the reverse happens, Soubin is sympathetic to Samuel.  He learns that Samuel’s parents are dead, he is the sole support for his sisters and his grandmother.  He needed money to send home, that’s all, he didn’t think of anything else.

Soubin now sees Samuel as a friend, not just a responsibility.  And, slowly, the people around them see him in the same way.  He plays referee for the neighborhood kids’ soccer game, he listens to Soubin’s mother (without understanding her) as she shares her worries, and he enjoys watching the local Kalaripayattu expert display his skill.  Everyone cheers his slow recovery, not because they look forward to him playing on the team again, but because they are happy to see him up and about.  But there is still the strain of the money and the team losing without their star player, and so on.  Samuel is not at the forefront of Soubin’s mind or the plot.  Not until disaster strikes, as the team is celebrating another win Soubin gets a call, Samuel is crying and won’t stop.  Soubin’s mother is worried, they don’t know what to do.  And Soubin can’t help either, Samuel won’t talk to him.  It is only the next morning, when the crying is over, that Samuel tells them his grandmother has died and he must get back to Nigeria as soon as possible,

And now, everything else drops away.  The game doesn’t matter, the money doesn’t matter, only Samuel’s grief and whatever they can do to help it is what matters.  There is a lovely sequence when Soubin’s mother insists on holding a prayer meeting on the 3rd day after death, and the local boys who played soccer come together to form a prayer circle for Samuel’s grandmother.  It’s not clear how much Samuel understands of what is happening, but he understands that they care, that they want to do what they can.  And that’s what matters most, in the end, that they have that connection and want to do something.  Not out of pity or guilt or responsibility, but just because they care.

The final “twist” of the film is the last thing that is keeping Samuel there.  And what connects Samuel to a greater community of strugglers within India.  Samuel’s passport goes missing just as he is preparing to leave the country.  They discover this when government officials come wanting to speak to him, having read an article in a newspaper that calls him a “refugee”.  Soubin goes to the author of the article for help who sends them to a refugee help organization.  Who explains the reality of life as a refugee.  They are allowed in India, but not allowed to work.  They have to either live on the charity of NGOs or travel the streets, looking for hand outs (a possible explanation for a young woman and child that we see stopping at Soubin’s house looking for money earlier).  Soubin returns home determined to get Samuel a replacement passport, no matter what it takes, in order to save him from refugee status.  But when he asks Samuel’s help in filling out the paperwork, Samuel refuses.  Until, finally, he admits that his passport is fake.

And we get the final piece of his story.  He and his sisters and his grandmother lived in a refugee camp in Nigeria.  They had to pay for water even, there was no work and money.  He played soccer because there was nothing else to do.  And then when he was scouted and offered a place on the Kerala team, it was the answer to a prayer.  Only first he needed a passport.  So he went to a forger, worked day after day to raise the money, and even then only got half.  He paid the second half from Kerala, still hadn’t fully paid it off, and now he needed that passport back in order to go home again and be reunited with his sisters.

The filmmakers don’t just leave this up to Samuel’s voice over for the audience to understand it.  We get flashbacks, images of the refugee camp, of their life there.  They want us to feel the reality of the situation, to understand what might drive someone to travel across the seas no matter what it took in order to get out and get something for his family.

There probably aren’t many professional athletes from Nigeria living in India.  But there are many Nigerians living in India who left their home in desperation.  Estimates have 50,000 Nigerians currently living in India, many of them undocumented.  And a survey of most other films will show how they are considered by the locals, “stealing” jobs, involved in illegal business, less intelligent, and so on and so on.  This is the first film I can think of that treated their situation seriously, that looked at the causes rather than the imagined effects.

And all it takes is to see one person as a human being.  That’s what the characters in this film learn, finally hearing and listening to Samuel’s story and caring for him for himself, and that is what this film is trying to do for the audience, giving us one phenomenal actor playing one fully rounded human.



48 thoughts on “Monday Malayalam: Sudani from Nigeria, a Shared Humanity

  1. I didn’t know that “Nollywood” is the second biggest film industry after the Indian one. That surprised me.

    More and more Indian films are exploring or at least using the cultural diversity of India as plot points in their films, taking it beyond the usual “Punjabi” and “South Indian” caricatures of most Hindi films. In this, as in other areas, I find the Hindi industry sadly lagging the rest. One reason to watch Sairat is to see how they incorporated the linguistic and cultural differences within India into the film’s story. Another is the Tamil film Vissaranai. And I recommend the Telugu film Kanche for how it ties the local to the global (issues in a small Telugu village paralleling developments of World War II). I think I’ve recommended Kanche to you before, so sorry for being repetitious. But I really think it’s a very worth-while film.

    Not much to say on this film itself, except that I decided to see it when I heard about it, and your review only reinforces that decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to hear you plan to see it! I was the only person in the theater, so although the box office is good in Kerala (according to reports), maybe the overseas box office can use help.

      On Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 1:30 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. I just checked Samuel Robinson’s filmography after reading your review & it doesn’t say Rajnikant of Nigerian films.Maybe an early Sushant Singh Rajput before he made it big in films. Nevertheless it was great casting & he’s a wonderful actor. I am curious why you had to make a point of him doing this movie as a favour(generosity, kindness are the word you used)Your reviews are different from others in that it tries to see the themes in movies which are easy to miss for a regular viewer like me. But I don’t understand the need of including Samuel’s supposed altruistic motive in doing this film.Also in giving Samuel his well-deserved praise, you have completely put down the other actors. Except Soubin, none of them(including the mothers are regular actors). That they could pull off such realistic performances in their first film is no mean feat. Soubin himself may not be a charismatic lead actor but did his role require him to charm the sock of the audience?He played an everyday Malayali youth to perfection and that’s what that role required. When you go all nuts on the wooden performances by mediocre stars from Bollywood(here also you have stressed many times that Samuel is a star)and downplay the performances by good actors from smaller industries, I have to wonder if the supposed charm/glitz of stardom(or lack of thereof)is influencing your judgement of a good performer.


    • @Meenakshy – good post!
      Yeah, I think Margaret is biased towards the bigger industries. It’s always like that!
      Carbon is a very bad film, badly acted and all. The only good thing about Carbon is “Vishal Bharadwaj”!!! Hey Jude, Trisha, same story!
      I guess, we’ll have to live with it. Maybe it helps her view count, I don’t know.
      Actually everybody in Kerala were in awe of the performance of the two mothers Sarasa Balussery & Savithri Sreedharan. Their first film, but very experienced theatre artists and state award winners.


      • Did you read my review of Carbon? I really really disliked it. And I would love for you to comment there, because I got some push back for not liking it and it would be good to have someone support me!

        As I’ve said before, I can only review the movies I see, if they are bigger films, I am more likely to be able to see them than the smaller films.


    • My point was that Samuel shouldn’t be dismissed as someone who should be grateful for the chance in Kerala films, but rather someone who chose to be in the films. And at the same time, the filmmakers could have just hired any Nigerian to play the role, but instead they made an effort to find an actual experienced successful actor. I’m comparing this with, for instance, the usual Hollywood habit when casting from other countries including India, where they just cast any old person from anywhere and call it good enough.

      I wanted to acknowledge his charisma and acting abilities because he is the lead of the film. I had the reverse reaction in Carbon, did not find Fahad intriguing at all and was more interested in Soubin. Soubin is a good enough actor that he can easily steal a film (for me) from a less talented star with a less well-written role.

      On Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 2:03 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • A good performance-lead, supporting or even one scene-needs to be acknowledged. You could have easily praised Samuel without using statements like ‘he dominated the entire film’ which kinda gives the idea that the others were so hopelessly outmatched against him. If at all he dominated the film, the credit is due for the script & the director for allowing him to shine. Not to mention co-actors like Soubin & Fahad who, despite being the more popular actors ,don’t mind letting the other actors hog the limelight. A good movie is usually when all the pieces click into place & the lead actor(this movie or Baahubali)is one of the pieces-not the entire board. For your Bollywood trained eyes & sensibilities,the movie review appears to be majorly about the supposed ‘hero’ & even speculate why he chose to do it(I get the Hollywood context once you explained, but it’s not there in the review)but can’t find anything to say about the supporting cast, director, setting or scriptwriter. After all you had written a review for Manichitrathazhu without mentioning Shobhana once & making it all about the pale Hindi remake. This is where I sense your ‘Bollywood loyalty’ bubbling up that we talked about the other day.


        • All I can say is what I have said before when you brought this up. My background is in Hindi film, not as a “fan” but as a scholar. That will be my reference point until I learn more about the other industries. I can stop writing about anything except Hindi film until my knowledge is better, or I can write reviews that miss things and count on the generosity of my commentators to teach me what I am missing.

          So, I’ll turn it back on you, I can either stop writing these reviews entirely because they aren’t perfect (and I know that). Or I can write imperfect reviews and you can gently and respectfully give me information I might be missing. But telling me I am bad isn’t really helping because I already know I am bad and there isn’t anything I can do about it short of building a time machine so I can jump ten years in the future and my southern knowledge will match my Hindi knowledge. Tell me more about the actors that I missed mentioning, or the director, or the context of Nigerian workers in Kerala, I want to learn!

          On Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 8:13 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          • Statements like ‘he dominated the film’ or ‘I’m confused with Soubin as a lead because he doesn’t have the charisma’ are not statements that say ‘I maybe wrong’ or ‘I maybe speculating here’. Those are your definitive opinions of the actors’ performances. Note that I am not criticising the review of the film’s themes & messages. It’s your judgments on actors & performances that I have a problem with(I have said the same earlier too in my own gentle & respectful way). Those judgements are from the sensibilities & preferences you have as a person(not the professional critic that you aim to be)and that’s something I can’t change because each person has their own preference & I respect your preference. I haven’t so far tried to tell you why Fahad is a good actor or why SRK’s performances suck. Also I don’t buy the argument that you need 10 years of experience to judge a performance or the caliber of the actor behind it. Or to mention something about how good the screenplay was or what struck you about the direction. Mention of director’s previous works,his general direction style , his other affairs show your knowledge of the person & his works but the value that it adds to the review of a specific film is less unless it talks about his direction for the specific film being reviewed. Mani Ratnam directed Kandathil Muthamital well, how does that fit in the review of Kadal? The director of this film is a newbie which means there is no previous reference.

            Your review isn’t perfect not because you don’t know the plight of Nigerian workers in Kerala but because you made it all about the lead actor. You found out information about him because you were interested enough to look him up. Similar search about other actors or the director would tell you what you are asking the others to supply.

            Now in a written communication, the tone is lost, so I want to make it clear that my tone is strictly that of calling a spade a spade. The intent is not to put you in a spot or to make you defensive. I like your blogs, doesn’t mean i won’t be critical about it & will critique in the way you want.


          • Thank you for responding.

            Please do tell me why you think Shahrukh is a bad actor or Fahad is good! not here, because that’s not what this review is about, but as it comes up in appropriate places. That’s what I mean, telling me that you think I am prejudiced and wrong is hard for me to turn into a productive conversation, but if you tell me why you think someone is bad or good, the reasons you disagree with me, then we can talk. I am open to talking about anything substantive in content, I just don’t know how to respond to someone telling me I am blinded by my own prejudices besides saying “no, I’m not”. There isn’t really a further conversation to have.

            On Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 9:24 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • And that’s fine. I don’t hope to show anyone the wisdom of my ways anymore than agreeing to see someone else’s way. That is for each of us to figure out on our own-maybe by exposing ourselves to different things , different thoughts & some introspection. I’m sure you know the drill & wdnt want the spoon feeding.


  3. Hi Margaret!

    So, it did come to a theatre near you!

    I don’t think Samuel is a big star in Nigeria. Definitely not in the same league as Rajnikant. I think he’s an upcoming actor. He was paid very very less and had it in his contract that if the movie does well, he’ll be paid more. The movie is a block buster in Kerala – so hopefully he got his due. But the problem was he was paid very little initially (obviously racist!) and even the Kerala finance minister had to get involved to sort out the payment dispute.

    In general, he was happy with Kerala and said he didn’t face any racism from the people. He went on to say that Kerala is the best place in South Asia for an African tourist!

    It’s interesting to think about what got him on board a small Malayalam film which as you said, is negligible compared to the Nigerian industry.

    You see, when an Indian film maker gives a call to a Nigerian actor for a potential role in an Indian film, he’s bound to think that it’s a Bollywood film. He got very excited and started to talk about how much he’s a fan of Bollywood and all… Then these guys had to tell him, no it’s not Bollywood it’s only Mollywood. I reckon he was hoping this might get him an entry into Bollywood or something (we all know how that’ll go, don’t we?). Anyway, his wikipage says “He is the first Nigerian actor to play a lead role in an Indian film”


    • I don’t think he is in the same league as Rajinikant either, but he was in 3 major hit TV shows and it looks like TV shows are bigger in Nigerian film than they are in India, partly because the majority of the audience is from satellite TV so even films tend to play more on TV than in theaters. And his most recent film looks like it got a ton of critical play and was quite ground breaking.

      What I found really interesting was comparing the box office and audience size for Kerala versus Nigerian films. Nigeria is much much much bigger. And bigger than Indian film in general, since the India figures count all language groups, while Nigerian film moves between Nigeria and Ghana, so the industry is split in two instead of in the many many bifurcations that Indian film has.


  4. There probably aren’t many professional athletes from Nigeria living in India.
    >>> There are many soccer players from Nigeria playing in the various soccer leagues in India. This includes the top league as well as the local sevens league they have in Malappuram. The lives of these Nigerians playing in the Sevens is accurately portrayed in the film.


    • That’s interesting, thank you! Although, I assume that is still a very small number of the estimated 50,000 total number of guest workers.


  5. I saw it last night and was one of four people in the theater. The ticket seller at the multi-plex wasn’t even sure what movie ticket I was asking for.

    BUT, what a great movie! I was unfamiliar with all of the actors in it — and when I left the theater I had to remind myself that they actually were actors. It was just such a natural movie, I felt like I was just watching life unfold.


  6. I got to know about Nigerian Cinema at the Berlinale 2008 when ShahRukh, the German actress Maria Schrader and the Nigerian actress Kate Henshaw-Nuttall discussed “Love International” at the Talent Campus. It was truly an eye-opener for me. So, of course, I was highly interested in this review.
    Whatever issues some may have with the way you wrote it, I am now interested to watch another Indian movie that isn’t Hindi.
    I am happy and grateful to learn so much about movies from other Indian filmindustries through your and the commentators’ writing.
    Just a question (because I read it so often from Indian commentators): Why do yourself call the Hindi Cinema Bollywood…in my ears it sounds demeaning. Shouldn’t it be more fair to name each filmindustry responding to the language or the nation? (I only accept the name Hollywood because the forest which gave a part of Los Angeles and the filmindustry established there this name simply was a hollywood.)


    • Because it’s a catchphrase. And it is a blanket term/collective noun for films which may contain stories from the cultures of Punjab, UP, Delhi, Bihar, Rajasthan, Kashmir, Jammu, Haryana, Maharashtra, Bengal, Orissa, Northeast, Himachal, Goa, Andra, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu but are presented in the hindi language with the style of the Bombay based industry or made by people from that group.

      i don’t understand what would be so demeaning about calling hindi cinema Bollywood? It’s like saying Dollywood is a demeaning name for Dolly Parton’s theme park.

      Besides, calling it the hindi cinema udyog all the time is a bit tough on the tongue.


  7. Are you seriously considering to stop the “Monday Malayalam”s? One gets that impression based on your last few reviews…
    My recommendation would be to keep one foot on the regional space. Maybe one day a week where you can circle between the regional films?

    See this latest 11:44 min interview of Sekhar Kapoor (in Eng) –

    You can watch from ~10mts. He’s saying that maybe Malayalam films will become mainstream and the Bombay films will become regional ! I don’t think this will ever happen, but I do see a good chance that Telugu films will relegate the Bombay films to regional status pretty soon.

    There was this article on rediff ( which says that Telugu films sold 240 million tickets as opposed to 248 for Hindi (Hindi being spoken by 6 times more people). If you flip through the Hindi movie channels on TV these days, you’re most likely to find a Telugu movie (dubbed in Hindi) almost at all times. They even occupy prime time slots on some channels! Perhaps the answer to who after the “Khans” would be Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, and the likes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you remember my post from a couple months back on why I don’t cover industry news outside of Hindi because I don’t feel I have anything worthwhile to contribute, that is what I am struggling with based on the comments on the past few weeks of reviews of my non-Hindi stuff, especially Malayalam. I still get a ton of views for it, which makes me think I am contributing something worthwhile, but the comments have increasingly been negative, not disagreeing with me (saying you found a different actor/character interesting in the film is just an interesting discussion), but saying that my analysis is flawed and I am revealing prejudices making myself personally incapable of writing on these topics. I can’t fix that because I can’t see it, which doesn’t mean it isn’t there, it just means there is nothing I can do about it.

      I don’t want to put stupidity and prejudice out into the world, if that is what people are getting from my reviews and that is why they are reading them, that’s terrible and I should stop and go back to the industries where I can be confident that I am on firm ground. And I don’t know why people are reading unless they comment, so it’s a sort of rule by minority, I need to hear from you what you are getting from them in order for me to know if they are worth writing or if I should just put up a blank page with a re-direct to Anna Vetticad.

      For the rest of your comment, you are making me think about how this might be an unforeseen result of the Satellite TV revolution. I was just reading about this with the Nigerian films, they took off in a new way with the growth of the home video market followed by satellite TV. It allowed for cheaper easier access by a wide range of people. So maybe the same thing is happening with non-Hindi films, the dubbed releases wouldn’t make sense to release in theaters, but if they are easy to put on TV and easy for the audience to watch them, maybe it is opening up the markets in a fashion that has never happened before, breaking down geographic barriers purely through the ease of broadcast versus physical markets.


      • Please, please don’t stop reviewing malayalam movies. An outsiders perspective helps us understand our movies better. I love your reviews and appreciate the details in your reviews. Especially the review for koode movie was very good.


  8. Its not because ‘ he is black and african he is clearly at a lower financial and social status than malayalees’. But since he agreed to play for a sevens football tournament in kerala, he is most probably from a poor country. Sevens football is a local tournament and popular only in northern parts of kerala. It has no tv broadcast, no media coverage or big sponsers. Hence the pay and facilities provoded will be very small(their accomodation facilities are shown in the film). Its nothing like IPL or any popular sports leagues. So a rich African footballer will not come to kerala to play for a sevens club.
    I loved the movie and how they mixed football with everything. There were many easter eggs for football fans. Even the ending scenes, they exchanged the jercies of barsa and real madrid. The rivals in club football..
    I dont find samuel dominating other actors in the film. Actually i was bit disappointed since he wasnt given enough opportunity to perform. The 2 older womans(soubins mother and her friend) were the real showstealers. They are now stars in kerala. And a new promising film titled Dakini has been announced with them and 2 other older actresses as lead actors. Also soubin and his stepfather delivered more impressive performances. Stepfather was the character that really Lingered in my mind after watching the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the information! That is really interesting about the two mothers. I found them good, and the stepfather, but they didn’t linger in my mind. Different things resonating with different audience members I guess, a sign of a good movie.


  9. Don’t stop Monday Malayalam!!!
    I always wait for your monday reviews, and read them all, even if I don’t comment often, because usually I don’t know the movies (still haven’t seen them). Like with Sudani from Nigeria. I really want to see this movie, but can’t because it’s not played in Italy, but when I watch it , I will have the place to talk.
    Anna Vetticad’s reviews are very good, and I read her blog, but it’s not the place to discuss and talk, she just writes her reviews and rarely responds.
    So don’t give up.


    • I second this. Don’t ever stop Monday Malayalam. I don’t watch much of malayalam movies, but, I think it is a bit like British movies. Focuses more on drama and relationships rather than the action. Your reviews provide non-malayali viewers a welcome window into this world.


      • YES! There are very few places when a non-malayali can talk about malayalam movies. I came to this blog, because I have watched Ohm Shanthi Oshana and was seaching somebody to talk about this movie, but nobody knew this gem 😦 I was so happy when I found Margaret’s blog.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi angie..
      You may check out ‘lensman review centre’ for malayalam reviews. He reviews all releasing flms within 2 days of the release day. And is the only trustworthy reviewer i found for new releases..This blog and baradwaj rangans blog are the only places available for discussion..But if u are in facebook there are many active facebook groups for malayalam films with serious discussions ongoing..But its mostly in malayalam..
      I followed anna vetticads blog for sometimes and i started hating all films.I found its very cynical, full of negativity, and very much politically biased. Even an innocent harmless film like aanmaria kalippilanu got a negative review. Thats when i stopped following anna.
      Reason i love this blog is it is more positive and M has respect for filmmakers. Eventhough i disliked some of her reviews like Carbon, Aadhi, Drishyam etc…


      • Thank you. I’m checking Lensman reviews now. And you’re right with Anna Vetticad. I still like her reviews but she is always so serious, and some movies can’t be take seriously like e.g Raabta. Anna gave this movie one star and wrote a lot of right things – that it’s unoriginal, clichéd etc, but I loved it, and would never watched it if not because of Margaret


  10. Yes, Don’t stop Malayalam Mondays. You don’t need to be perfect to do it, ofcourse some of the comments might have seemed harsh, but they write with that intensity because they care, they could easily choose to go away. Also, you get to see an aspect of the fans that you otherwise wont get to experience.


    • My main concern is that the recent comments are less “you need to learn more let me teach you” and more “you are writing bad reviews and are not capable of being better”. I am happy to learn from you, but I take personal criticism seriously. As in, if you truly think I myself as a person am too prejudiced, ignorant, lazy, whatever, than I will believe you and stop writing. You all are my teachers, if you tell me I am no good, the obvious choice is to give up.

      On Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 3:42 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Hmmm, I don’t know if “give up” is really the obvious choice in the situation you describe. And, I’m not sure all your commenters deserve the title of teacher.

        Negative comments without explanation or encouragement are really not worth your consideration. You are better than them.


  11. Hello again-i can see you groaning😂😂I think I finally figured out our little problem. I am expecting a professional review similar in tone & content to that of Bharadwaj Rangan’s that touches upon all aspects of a film whereas you are aiming for a crowd sourced review with your contribution focused on themes & actors of your preference. The easiest resolution will be one where I readjust my expectations cos that would not require you to change anything at your end😉(I realise I could have used more smilies in our previous conversation which may have made it appear less heated than what was intended😀😉🤪, but hey it gave you a chance to put a whole post on cooling/soothing songs. It is summer in India now & we all need some cooling & singing. 🌧☔️☃️


    • So you are expecting hamburger and getting chicken, no wonder you are frustrated! And no wonder I am frustrated with your critiques, because I can’t make my chicken into hamburger, it is what it is.

      I come from an academic side of things, so I’m not trying to give a comprehensive over view of the film, rather I have a thesis statement argument and I am mentioning elements that relate to my thesis and unique perspective. It allows me to go much deeper into a particular theme than if I were to try to cover everything, but the assumption is I am NOT covering everything. You can reply in the comments with your own unique perspective as to what was important and we can have a discussion.

      I am going to ask if you can keep one thing in mind in future when you comment. Just like it is good to use “I” statements in a discussion (“I think” etc.) it is also good to avoid “you” statements, so rather than “you are wrong”, if you could try to say “your argument is wrong”. And then explain why you think that. It will lead to a more fruitful conversation.

      On Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 2:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Margret can check all the comments that Meenakshy has posted so far and see for herself that there are no ‘you are wrong’ comments. But Meenakshy has written ‘your review is not perfect because of so & so reasons..’.Hope that helps!


  12. Soubin Shahir is one of the most talented people in the current generation of the Malayalam Movie Industry. His directorial debut ‘Parava’ is one of the best films of 2017. Deceptively simple story but narrated brilliantly. Highly recommended.


  13. This movie has been on my list forever, since you first posted this review. I just got around to watching because it was the whole family together and the soccer piece got my sons to agree and the original premise got my husband to agree. They all then fell asleep (day after New Year’s, nothing to do with the movie) so I enjoyed it by myself. We’ve watched a lot of soccer movies from a number of different film industries and there are some really bad ones! This is not really a soccer movie, but I agree with the commenter who said that it’s great for real soccer fans, you can tell the screenwriter’s appreciation and understanding of the game is real. Beyond that, I loved all of the performances – Samuel was wonderfully appealing (interesting that they used his full real name for the character, a bid for name recognition?), Soubin was affecting and utterly believable, the mothers were heartwarming, and the cast of friends was terrific as well. This might be my first Malayalam movie, back to understanding nothing, not even scattered words here and there! But what a delightful plot set-up to give us a glimpse into this totally unfamiliar (to me) corner of the world – sevens, Kerala, the experience of African refugees in India. A gem. Will be recommending it to my friends an family.


    • I love Kerala movies for how unique the setting feels. Partly (I think) because Kerala really is a different part of India, but also because the films aren’t afraid to deal with the little trivia and specifics of the location. There’s little immigration pockets and sports fandoms and stuff all over India, but the other language industries are afraid to try something so extremely specific and risk confusing the audience (I think). Of course, when the specific is done well, as it is here, it becomes universal after all.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, exactly! Like I have no idea about sevens, but we see the small bus, the sleeping quarters, the fact that they have almost no extra players, no subs. It all adds up to the picture of financial precariousness and how they only have each other to rely on. There is no safety net but each other’s humanity. Universal.


        • Oh oh! You should watch Jacobinte Swarajyam!!!! the movie I am reposting the review of next week. Very specific to the Dubai Malayalam community, but also universal. And, I love it.


      • Makes me wonder about the future of regional movies

        they have these local context, because they are made for the local audience.

        But with Netflix growing in size, maybe they will get more revenues from overseas distribution, rather than local box office


        • It’s a good question, the other possibility might be that streaming allows for the local films to reach Malayalis all over the world simultaneously, therefore keeping the narrow focus instead of losing it.

          On Wed, Jan 2, 2019 at 12:31 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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