Saturday, March 7, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire Kids Back In The Slums

There are many beautiful things about Slumdog Millionaire… such a great movie and in my opinion totally deserving of Best Picture (I mean… since Wall-E wasn’t nominated). But today I came across a story that has me more than a little disgusted.

Instead of trying to paraphrase what I read… I’ll just let you read it. Monika over at Cinematical tells us the following:

When we think of child actors, it’s easy to think of rich, overly indulgent scenarios like the one Don McKellar outlined in Childstar. But that’s not always the case — especially for the tykes of Slumdog Millionaire. It only lost two of its ten Oscar nominations, but for the young Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubiana Ali, post-Slumdog life isn’t coming up roses.

On the heel of news that the kids were getting trust funds and school funding, The Telegraph reports that they are reeling after their whirlwind taste of luxury life at the Oscars. Azhar has been suffering from a 103 temperature and vomiting since returning home, a condition which isn’t helped by the fact that he doesn’t have a physical home to rest in (although neighbors are trying to build a metal structure for the kid to rest in out of the sun). Meanwhile, Rubina still wears the now-stained gown she wore to the Oscars, wishing to live in America and sleep in “a proper bed and live where the air does not smell of poo.”

The piece, which includes a lot of heart-breaking words from the children, points out how challenging it is for these kids to see and experience the absolute opposite of their lives, only to return to it and feel forgotten. So far, there have been no flats for the families to move to, and reports say that Azhar has even been beaten for wanting to sleep rather than talk to a journalist offering his family money.

Often an actor will agree to do a movie for a certain amount of money, and then if the movie does HUGE business at the boxoffice they want a bigger piece of the pie (funny how they never offer to give some of their money back if the movie bombs and the producers lose money…. but that a debate for another time). My position has always basically been: If you agree to do a movie for a certain amount, then do it for a certain amount since you didn’t risk anything and don’t stand to lose anything if it fails, you don’t deserve to reap the rewards if it succeeds.

Now remember, we’re often talking about MILLIONS of dollars here. The situation usually involves an actor who made, for example, $2 million, and now wants $5 million or something like that. Maybe made $300,000 and now wants a million. That’s a totally different situation than what we’re talking about here.

The producers of the film aren’t suddenly responsible for these kids just because they used them in a movie. But come on… you didn’t just use them in your movie… you plucked them out of their environment, dressed them up in little suits and dresses and paraded them around Hollywood to increase the “cute” image of your film and get more attention for yourselves. For fuck’s sake, no one is suggesting giving them a million dollars… but how about just making sure they’ve got a place to live and consistently something to eat? I know you’re going to have to spend a lot of money to keep those 8 Oscars you won polished up and shinny… but maybe you can dig deep and help out those kids who help you get the Oscars and attention and millions at the box office in the first place.

To me, this whole thing is disgusting.

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