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« A privileged disaster | Main | Daily roundup »

May 14, 2009

’Slumdog’ actor’s home destroyed

Ismail The BBC reports that Azharuddin Ismail, one of the child actors from the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, lost his home (a tent in the slums of Mumbai), which was demolished by city authorities with the accusation that the family had been squatting on the land.

Controversy had already erupted over fair compensation for a few of the child actors from the film (two, including Ismail, actually came from the slums they were representing in the film).

(Image © Fox Searchlight)

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This is so sad. In the US when a child would have a part in such a successful film we would expect that the child and his family would be raised up out of their poverty. In India the culture is much different I am told. I really enjoyed the movie but now I wonder if children weren't exploited to make it, similarly to how such exploitation was depicted in the movie. What a sad irony.


Becky, I did a little research on the "fair compensation" issue. It seems to me like the directors of the film have actually done a thorough job of thinking through an accurate paycheck for these child actors from the slums. They are paying for their schooling (an opportunity they didn't have before) and contributing to a charity that advocates for poverty-stricken kids in India. From all I hear, Danny Boyle, the director was particularly concerned about simply throwing money at this family, for the basic reason that a poor family from Mumbai might get into more trouble by going from "rags to riches" so quickly. It's a complicated issue--one that requires looking at more factors than simply "how much should they be paid?" but also, "what is the best way to compensate them." Anyway, just wanted to add a little background to the controversy.


Thanks Zoe, I am sure that it is not a simple matter. From my minimal understanding there is still a strong caste system in India where the lower caste is considered less than human and these people live in ways we cannot imagine. I actually had trouble sleeping after I saw the movie. In spite of the happy ending it depicted how children are used and abused and it was just disturbing. Now if I were to see it again it would be more so just knowing that, for the children in the movie, it is their actual way of life. I am not faulting the makers of the movie. In fact I think they are making people more aware.

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