Parents of two child artistes in Slumdog … unhappy with remuneration received
"LOOK! LOOK!" says an excited Rubina Ali (8) sitting on
the floor of her hut showing off a newspaper cutting of her standing next to actress Preity Zinta.
"I'd like to be an actress and help the poor because I know what it's like," says the actor, who impressed critics as young Latika in Slumdog Millionaire, which bagged Oscar nominations in 10 categories.
Rubina is starry-eyed, but her father Rafi Khurishi (45) is worried. A year ago, he fractured his leg and has been at home since. He used to earn Rs 3,500 a month by building illegal huts, like the one they live in at Garib Nagar on railway land along the tracks in Bandra (East).
The Rs 35,000 his daughter got for the film has already been spent on his medical treatment. "We wish they had given us a house," he says. "For a year she was working on the film, they should have given at least Rs 5 lakh." Rubina's stepmother Muni Khurishi (28), who used to work as a cook, too is currently unemployed.
Snubbing allegations of the film selling poverty porn, Rafi is happy that the film gave a "realistic" depiction of slums.. He is glad that Rubina now goes to an English-medium school.
"They promised to create a deposit account for her. We don't know how much money is in the account," he says, adding that the producers have been giving Rs 1,500 per month for her books and food. "We would like an apartment and a better lifestyle." The same story is narrated at a nearby slum by the father of Azharuddin Ismail (8), who played young Salim in the film.
Smoking a bidi outside his hut in a makeshift slum in Garib Nagar Park, Mohammed Ismail (65) said: "We want a house, not money The father ." of four earns around Rs 100 a day selling wood salvaged from dumps, and the family lives in a temporary hut made of plas tic sheets on government land.
"Azharuddin was paid Rs 1.3 lakh, but in instalments. We spent all the money on food," he says, shifting a brick to hold his house up. "We were promised more money but never got it." "My son is a star and his film has got Oscar nominations, so why am I living like this?" asks Azharuddin's mother Shaim (45), a housewife. "The film has won many awards, we deserve a better lifestyle." Adds Azharuddin: "I want to be Salman Khan. I don't want to live in a hut
For kids in 'Slumdog' slum, life is not as upbeat
Reuters Posted: Jan 14, 2009 at 1821 hrs
Mumbai In Nehru Nagar, the teeming Mumbai slum featured in the Golden Globe-winning film 'Slumdog Millionaire', the only music heard is on tiny radio sets and the young boys have no ambition to appear on quiz shows.
While the crowded slum with its unpaved alleys, open sewers and tiny shacks is faithfully portrayed in the film, for the kids playing cricket with wooden planks near a smoking landfill, the story of protagonist Jamal Malik is unimaginable.
"I have never even tried to get on a quiz show on TV," said Siddhant, a cheerful 12-year old, shrugging his shoulders.
For Siddhant, who studies in the seventh grade in a nearby school, his role models are cricketers and his hero is Sachin Tendulkar, India's batsman.
He and his friends have little interest in watching 'Slumdog Millionaire', which was mostly shot in Nehru Nagar and nearby Dharavi, when it is released in India next week.
"We saw some parts of the shooting, and that was nice, but I won't see the film," said Alpesh, also 12.
"I only like Shah Rukh Khan films," he said, referring to the popular actor who usually plays the romantic hero in big-budget Bollywood productions.
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Director Danny Boyle, in publicity material for a film he called a Dickensian tale, said he shot in real, gritty locations "to show the beauty and ugliness and sheer unpredictability" of Mumbai.
'Slumdog Millionaire', which tells the rags-to-riches tale of an orphan from such a slum, won four Golden Globe awards on Sunday, including one for Indian music composer AR Rahman.
But there is little upbeat or ambitious about Nehru Nagar, and some newspapers have criticised Boyle for romanticising the slums and peddling grim realities.
Others have sprung to Boyle's defence.
"If through (the movie) the world gets a peek at an India inhabited by millions of people who continue to live their lives without clean water, sanitation or electricity, what is the problem?" wrote Kalpana Sharma, author of a book on Dharavi, Asia's largest slum, in the 'Indian Express' paper.
India's own film industry, best known for its racy action flicks and lush romances, has delved before into the slums in Mumbai occasionally, and there is growing interest from tourists.
Reality Tours & Travel, which offers guided tours of Dharavi, calls the slum "a place of poverty and hardship but also a place of enterprise and humour", saying the tours are meant to dispel the negative image that many people have about slums in Mumbai.
"People want to understand how the country works, experience a culture that is alien to them and goes beyond the standard tourist spots," said co-founder Chris Way.
To people in the slums though, a movie like 'Slumdog' probably would not make a huge difference because "they are just too busy getting on with their lives", he said.
That thought is echoed by 14-year old Rajan, who when asked what he would do if he won a prize, shrugs his shoulders.
The Oscar nomination for the Hindi-Bhojpuri documentary film Smile Pinki has come as a blessing in disguise for Rampur Dabahi village of Mirzapur district. This is the village where the film's protagonist Pinki lives.
The district administration of Mirzapur, 300 km east of Lucknow, has been moved by the Oscar nomination for the film, which is shot largely in Rampur Dabahi. It has decided to adopt Rampur Dabahi and develop it as a model village.
The administration has also decided to pay for Pinki's entire education. Pinki is a class II student at the government primary school in Rampur Dabahi.
Officiating district magistrate Jaswant Singh said on Sunday that the village would be developed as an 'AdarshVillage' (ModelVillage) through implementation of a 10-point programme. The programme includes developing or providing roads, power, potable water, schools and widow pension benefits.
Singh further said Pinki's father Rajendra Sonkar, a daily wager, has been assured by the Uttar Pradesh government that her educational and other expenses would be paid for by the state.
"It's an honour for the entire district that Pinki's smile brought back by surgeons in Varanasi has put Mirzapur under a global spotlight. Now we want the world to know about a fullydeveloped Rampur Dabahi village," Jaswant Singh said.
If the assurances of the authorities see the light of day, they will usher a new dawn in the lives of the villagers of Rampur Dabahi. They have complained that they have to travel two kilometres just to get potable water from a makeshift canal in Khoria village.
The residents of the hillside village had also told an HT team that the last electric pole was installed at Bairampur, three kilometres from Pinki's village.
Smile Pinki, a 39-minute documentary by American director Megan Mylan, has Pinki as the protagonist. It is the real life agony-to-ecstasy tale of Pinki and other children born with cleft-lips, who have been given the million-dollar smile by a group of doctors in Varanasi led by young plastic surgeon Dr Subodh Singh under a global initiative, Smile Train Project.