"Slumdog" film team defend treatment of slum kids

Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:52am EST
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By Robert Mezan and Mike Collett-White

LOS ANGELES/LONDON (Reuters) - The makers of "Slumdog Millionaire" have defended their treatment of child actors taken from the slums of Mumbai where the rags-to-riches tale, nominated for 10 Oscars, is set.

In recent weeks the movie's success around the world has been overshadowed by objections in India to the name, which some slum dwellers find offensive, its depiction of the lives of impoverished Indians and the treatment of the cast.

Earlier this week Britain's Daily Telegraph quoted the parents of Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail, who play slum kids Latika and Salim respectively, complaining that their children had not been cared for properly by the movie's makers.

Ismail's father told the newspaper that there was no money left and that he knows nothing of a promised trust fund set up for his son. Ali's father is quoted as saying "the money they paid us is nothing. They should pay more."

The report said Ali received 500 pounds ($715) for filming and Ismail 1,700 pounds.

Slumdog producer Christian Colson said figures quoted in the British press were inaccurate.

"They were well paid for the work that they did," he told Reuters in Los Angeles, when asked about the reports.

"The figures quoted in the UK press are inaccurate. The suggestion that they (the children) worked for a year is also inaccurate.   Continued...

<p>Danny Boyle, director of Golden Globe award-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire", dances as he arrives for his film's premiere in Mumbai January 22, 2009. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe</p>