“Slumdog Millionaire” – the movie, the reality

Slumdog Millionaire, despite it’s low budget ($15 million), was an excellent film that truly portrayed the lives of the poorest in India.  It should be a reminder to American firms investing in the country, that the community involvement programs they have in the United States, would be also well-served in their exploitative adventures in foreign lands.

Apparently they are not the only ones who lost sight of the moral obligation the beneficiaries of cheap labor have, to give back to the lands that enrich them.

Today, multiple papers around the world revealed that Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail, who played the central characters as children, are still living in the slums of Mubai, despite the multiple Oscars and $100 million the movie grossed in North America since November.

According to the Irish Times,

Ali, 8, currently lives in a tiny hovel in a rubbish strewn slum near railway tracks in India’s financial hub. Ismail sleeps under a polythene sheet-covered roof in the same slum. Open sewers run nearby and both homes have no running water.

The Indian government has approved giving the children and their families free, permanent housing due to the “laurels” they have brought to the country.

Danny Boyle, director the film, denies exploiting the children and says they were paid above average wages for the area. The film maker has also set up a fund for their education and they have been enrolled in school for the first time.

The fund will also pay for medical emergencies and “basic living costs.”

In the grand scheme of things, this was a responsible thing for Boyle to do. Details of these funds are not known, but the children’s fathers were interviewed by BBC News regarding the new housing and said the following:

The boy’s father, Mohammed, who suffers from tuberculosis, told The Times of India: “We have barely got any money from the film-makers. In fact, whatever came, has already been spent.

“This decision is a piece of good news for us.”

Rubina’s father Rafiq Qureshi also told the newspaper: “Our house was demolished a couple of times by the authorities, the last time being three months ago.

“We are happy that we will have a permanent roof over our head.”

My only question is, do they get royalties?


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