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Though the story broke in a barely-reliable “news” source, it took milliseconds for people to respond in shock and horror to British tab News of the World‘s claim that 9-year-old Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali was being peddled for adoption by her father.
Let’s just say the odds were stacked against Ali’s father, Rafiq Qureshi: Ali’s biological mother publicly praised the paper for releasing the story, even duking it out over the matter with Qureshi’s wife (and Ali’s stepmother) in the streets. And people have been naturally suspect of the Slumdog showbiz dad after his name first emerged, amidst controversy–after the film was a raging success, he felt his daughter should have been paid more (despite the fact that filmmakers arranged the Jai Ho Trust to provide the young actors and their families with education and housing needs).
While speaking to CNN with the young Ali, Qureshi did in fact admit to meeting with a wealthy Dubai couple (who turned out to be News of the World journalists), with the rather dubious caveat that he actually never intended to accept money for his daughter, and that he was misunderstood because of his poor English.
“’I talked to them in the room,’ Ali told CNN of the meeting, conducted by undercover News of the World journalists. ‘My dad said I could meet people if I want to, ‘But I will never give my daughter away for any amount of money.’”
But here’s the rub: although the undercover reporters argue that they have seven hours of taped evidence showing Qureshi and his brother negotiating the sale, the video has no sound. And this week, Mumbai police dropped their investigation of the father, citing a lack of evidence. So perhaps Qureshi didn’t attempt this terrible thing, and maybe he did. As is often the case, the truth is difficult to discern amidst the chaos.
All we can say is that we feel deeply for poor Rubina, who really just can’t seem to catch a break. And to anyone who’s actually thinking about it, might we suggest following PETA’s advice (not something we’d often do), merely applying it to adorable, talented, potentially-up-for-grabs children:
Filed under: Adoption, Chaos, India, Jai Ho Trust, Mumbai, News of the World, PETA, Poor Kid, Rafiq Qureshi, Rubina Ali, rumors, Selling Children, Showbiz Moms and Dads, Slumdog Millionaire, Tabloids, The Truth
Happy Birthday to Dev Patel, who turned the shiny age of 19 today! We gulped a little when we realized that this shooting star was born in 1990–a time when we were still adjusting the shoulder pads on our brightly-colored, oversized blazers–seeing how in his scant years of life he’s already managed to earn a black belt in Taekwondo, act in a Brit telly series, star in an Oscar-winning film, and scoop up a suitcase of performance awards (from SAG to Critics’ Choice, not to mention noms for BAFTA and NAACP). Our inferiority complex is becoming more complex by the second, just writing this.
We can only hope that this precocious overachiever keeps on scoring! And in a bajillion years, when he turns 21, we’d love to take him out for a drink.
Just when we thought Chanel had totally and irrevocably gone down the chitter…
Estée Lauder is about to get more gorgeous: news outlets report that Slumdog Millionaire‘s Freida Pinto, Hollywood’s most enchanting newbie, is set to be the new face of the cosmetics brand.
This is huge news for the young actress, in part because of the yummy price tag (reported at £200,000) that comes from striking such a plum endorsement deal.
But let’s just all collectively cross our fingers that she does not share the fate of her pretty predecessors, Liz Hurley and Gwyneth Paltrow, who both sold millions of mascara tubes with their mugs–and then tumbled into smug, unsavory, irrelevant oblivion, never to be loved again.
Filed under: Beautiful Ladies, Career Changes, Cosmetics, Downturns, Elizabeth Hurley, Endorsements, Estée Lauder, Faces, Freida Pinto, Gwyneth Paltrow, Irrelevance, Makeup, Predecessors, Slumdog Millionaire
2008 was all about China China China, but 2009 is shaping up to be South Asia’s year. Between the total Oscar dominasian of Slumdog, to the rise and FAIL of Indian-Americans in politics–Bobby Jindal FAIL, Sanjay Gupta FAIL, and Vivek Kundra, who was today named Federal Chief Information Officer, FTW–to M.I.A. popping out her mixtape-making baby right after her upstaging-turn at the Grammys, to the crazazy shit going down between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, to Citi CEO Vikram Pandit becoming the sad face on the precipitous decline of Wall Street, to Freida Pinto becoming a fashion icon and Woody Allen’s muse, good and godawful, Desis are here like paneer, and you betta get used to it.
My favorite Desi success story so far, however, has got to be that of American Idol contestant, Anoop Desai. Anoop, aka “Anoop Dawg,” is the definition of dorklicious, an a cappella-singing group nerd –something our pal Angry Asian Man predicted in private conversation before it became a well-known fact–a normal dude who’s longer on goofy charisma than talent but was nevertheless brought back by the Idol judges to contend tonight for one of the 3 remaining wild-card spots on the show.
I really can’t explain Anoop’s appeal–although j’adore the fact that he wrote his college thesis on the importance of barbecue in the South–but, if the stars continue to align as they have, this guy’s a lock for the Top 12.
Usually, Ryan Seacrest does an adequate job on the red carpet, but he totally whiffed yesterday when interviewing the Slumdog Millionaire kids:
“I can’t pronounce all these names”?
“Well, she speaks good English”?
Quicker than you can say “bandwagon” and “money train,” the Pussycat Dolls have remixed Oscar-winning Best Song, “Jai Ho,” which Ryan Seacrest debuted on his morning radio show Monday.
Listen to these Jai Hos here.
It was reported this week that Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto, 24, had a “secret husband” or fiance, Rohan Antao, whom she met in college and dumped once the Oscar-nominated movie became a hit. Another rumor floating around is that she and her 18 year-old co-star Dev Patel are now dating.
While these two moves sound climby and actressy…
…who’s surprised, really?
Cutest. Paparazzi. Photo. Ever!!! [via JustJared]:
I definitely think there are a few people that could take a cue from Patel’s fresh-faced, grateful pap-titude. And that means you, grouchypantses Lindsay Lohan Jessica Biel Sienna Miller Julia Roberts, Madonna Britney Keanu Reeves Ben Affleck Cameron Diaz et al….
There’s a new Slumdog Millionaire scandal a-brewing, with the families of two of its child stars claiming exploitasian. The parents of 8 year-olds Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail, who play young Latika and Salim in the film, respectively, and are both still living in Mumbai slums, have accused the film’s producers of underpaying their children. (The families also appear to be in the direst of straits: Rubina’s father broke his leg during filming and has been out of work since, and Azharuddin’s father has TB.)
The movie’s distributor, Fox Searchlight, responded by saying that the children were paid three times the average wage of adults in their neighborhoods. Considering their neighborhoods are slums and the average annual income in India is $941, this sounds like a raw deal for the kids. Apparently, a trust fund has also been set up for the child actors that they will be able to access when they are 18, provided they stay in school. Which sounds slightly better, until you start to wonder: Isn’t it pretty fucking impossible to stay in school until you’re 18 when you’re living in a slum in India? The drop-out rate is 30% in America and higher in lower-income areas, so what must it be like in India, where ONE-THIRD of ALL the world’s poor live? This may be a noble plan in theory, but is it even tenable?
Maybe Fox Searchlight and Danny Boyle and Slumdog‘s producers have done right by those kids, relatively speaking, but would it be any skin off their noses to do, for lack of a better phrase, more right? What would it cost, a few thousand dollars? That’s nothing to a movie that’s already grossed $62 million.
Entertainment Weekly asked its readers to weigh in on this controversy, and there’s an array of thoughtful ideas on the situation, like how the movie’s overrated, or how the media’s making all of this up, or how these child actors–hell, all of India–is to blame for…um…outsourcing:
[UPDATE: Some backpedaling.]
Yesterday, several dozen Mumbai slum residents protested outside of the home of actor Anil Kapoor–who plays the game show host in Slumdog Millionaire with the most delightfully grandiose elocution–because they object to the film’s name.
“I am poor, but don’t call me slumdog,” said Rekha Dhamji, 18. “I don’t want to be referred to as a dog,” she said.
Okay. Fair enough. And while y’all are at it, would you mind protesting the name of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which would have been more aptly titled, The Curious Case of a Big Budget Hollywood Movie Without a Story, or The Curious Case of a Pointless Waste of Two-and-a-Half Hours of My Life that I Can’t Get Back, or The Curious Case of Horrible CG Effects that Made the Child-Version of Button Look Like an Old, Wrinkly Dick? As well as the fact that it received more Oscar noms than “Don’t Call Me” Slumdog Millionaire?
That would be swell! Thanks.
Filed under: Anil Kapoor, Danny Boyle, Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Mumbai, Oscar Nominations, Protests, Slumdog Millionaire, Slumdog Protests, The Academy Awards, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Oscars
Name: Freida Pinto
Hails from: Mumbai
Why She’s a Babe: The Mumbai-born former model is definitely one of those girls whose beauty flummoxes you. It makes you gasp and stammer and shriek to the gods, “Why does she get to be so pretty?!” It makes you red-faced and flushed and a little wobbly on your feet, as though you’ve been drinking. Freida debuts as an actor in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, in the role of Latika, love interest to Jamal Malik, a Mumbai slum kid who winds up on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. There’s already major Oscar buzz surrounding the film, which opens in select cities tomorrow, but even if the movie sucked (which it won’t), we’d be content getting wasted on Freida’s lovely visage for two hours anyway.