Were “Slumdog” Child Actors Exploited?
Hey Danny – don’t treat your Slumdog actors like slum!
Are the child actors of Slumdog Millionaire suffering?
While Slumdog Millionaire remains a huge hit at the box office, having won four Golden Globes and been nominated for 10 Oscars, two child actors are reportedly not basking in the glory of this Indie film’s success. They are Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail, the youngsters who play Latika and Salim as children in the movie.
Telegraph.co.uk reports that the children have not benefited too greatly from being part of this million-dollar movie.
According to reports, Rubina and Azharuddin received less money than many Indian domestic servants earn in the same period of time. Translated into American dollars, Rubina made a little more than $700, while Azharuddin took home about $2,400 for his performance as young Salim. The children did also receive funding for schooling and get a small amount of money for books and food each month. Trust funds have been set up for them that they will receive upon completion of their education.
However, none of this is helping their – or their families’ – current situation. They still live in poverty, in the slums of Mumbai. Reportedly, Azharuddin’s earnings went toward medication to help his father fight tuberculosis. Azharuddin’s family’s illegal hut was demolished by authorities and the family is homeless – the “star” and his father sleep under a plastic tarp.
Rubina is slightly better off, living further down the tracks by the sewer, with her parents and siblings in a hut. Her father, Rafiq Ali Kureshi, is an unemployed carpenter, having broken his leg during the filming of Slumdog. He says he does not regret his daughter being in the movie; he just “had no knowledge of what she should have been paid. It is making so much money and so much fame and the money they paid us is nothing. They should pay more.”
A Fox Searchlight spokesman said: “The welfare of Azhar and Rubina has always been a top priority for everyone involved with Slumdog Millionaire. A plan has been in place for over 12 months to ensure that their experience working on Slumdog Millionaire would be of long term benefit. For 30 days work, the children were paid three times the average local annual adult salary.”
(I’m interested in knowing how much an American actor would get for 30 days of work!?)
The statement continues: “Due to the exposure and potential jeopardy created by the unwarranted press attention, we are looking into additional measures to protect Azhar and Rubina and their families. We are extremely proud of this film, and proud of the way our child actors have been treated.”
They are living exactly as they way you have portrayed them in the movie! In the SLUMS!
Do you think Azharuddin and Rubina deserve to sleep where they’re sleeping? Isn’t a point of the story of Slumdog Millionaire to tell the world about the poverty in India?
I wish the bigwigs at Fox Searchlight and Danny Boyle, the movie’s director, would remember the two tiniest actors who helped make their little movie into a great big worldwide sensation.