Sudani from Nigeria Review: Must watch
One of the best films of the year so far
There is something very beautifully poignant about the way relationships are defined in Sudani from Nigeria. A bunch of rustic characters are bound by the deep, raw and selfless affection that is rarely overt, but with an intense warmth that is overwhelming. And football is just a trope here to narrate the tale of humanity, unconditional love and life. Nothing but pure emotions dominate the screen and you cannot help but get carried away by the beauty of it.
Cast: Soubin Shahir, Samuel Abiola Robinson
Sudani from Nigeria, directed by Zakaria, takes you to a small Malabar village where Sevens football is an obsession, livelihood and entertainment for many. Majeed (Soubin Shahir) runs a football club, though it doesn't earn him much. He manages to get a few African players (called Sudanis) and one of them is Samuel (Samuel Abiola Robinson), the star player of his club. Samuel gets injured and life turns over a new leaf for both of them.
It may have been tagged as an adrenalin-pumping football film, but Sudani from Nigeria is everything human. It starts off with lots of fun, thanks to Soubin with his impeccable comic timing. But action gradually shifts from the ground to their personal spaces and that's when Sudani from Nigeria glows.
Friendship is one of the most celebrated emotions and Sudani from Nigeria doesn't limit it to the youngsters alone. For instance, the bond Majeed's mother (Savitri Sreedharan) shares with her neighbour and friend Beeyumma is beautiful beyond words. It definitely has to be one of the best depictions of friendship onscreen. Another scene where Beeyumma introduces her Quran 'classmates' to Samuel is touching and humorous at the same time. Sudani from Nigeria is so unassuming that it revels in its naturality.
It is with the same unassertiveness that Zakaria takes us through the plight of Samuel's family in Nigeria. Barely three scenes, and we know what Samuel has gone through in Nigeria. You don't really need a sob story to tell human suffering, after all. Another amazing aspect of the film has to be its wonderful characters. Most of the prominent faces here are fresh, but the performances are so unbelievably real that you start to wonder if they are really actors playing their part or just people living their lives. Everybody from Samuel (with his innocent smile) to Soubin's friends to the elderly in the village have done their part so well.
There is also enough humour to light up the screen in Sudani from Nigeria. With sequences like Majeed's visit to the police station and the bond he shares with his friends, humour is abundant here. With his beautiful story telling, director Zakaria has announced his arrival. Soubin proves yet again that he is a very versatile actor. The wonderful music by Rex Vijayan adds to the narrative.
Very few stories cleanse your heart like Sudani from Nigeria. It is hard not to be swayed by the humanity here, and hard to leave the theatres without your eyes welling up. Sudani from Nigeria is one of the best films made this year. A must-watch indeed!