As you may or may not know, I am not a fan of the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Personally, I think that it is a condescending and exploitative after-school-special to make white people feel better about their cultural ignorance and their inaction towards global humanitarian crises. And there was a certain period of time in which I regularly wrote posts about the tumultuous and mostly-tragic lives of the movie’s young child stars after the colonial film crew had packed up and moved home. Today, there is another report about how the kids aren’t going to school, and how that might make them ineligible to receive the trust fund that Danny Boyle set up in their names. That’s no good! My first thought was “Ah, another disturbing update on the nightmarish lives of the Slumdog Millionaire kids.” And my second thought was, “wait, does anyone even care about them anymore?” And that is the whole problem right there!
But first, what is going on with those dudes?
From the HuffingtonPost:
MUMBAI, India — The two child stars of “Slumdog Millionaire” are at risk of losing their monthly stipend and their trust fund if they don’t attend school more regularly, a trustee for the fund said Thursday.
Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 11, and Rubina Ali, 10, shot to fame after starring in the Oscar-winning movie.
But these days, Azhar is only showing up at school 37 percent of the time, and Rubina has only a 27 percent attendance rate, the trustee said.
“It’s pathetic,” said Noshir Dadrawala, who helps administer the Jai Ho trust established by the filmmakers to provide an education, living allowance and housing for the young stars, who both grew up in Mumbai’s real-life shantytowns.
“Slumdog” director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson said in a statement that the children’s families “need to honor their part of the bargain.”
“We are disappointed that Azhar and Rubina’s school attendance remains patchy. We have urged both families to honor their commitment to ensure regular school attendance,” they said. The filmmakers were in Mumbai to discuss future film projects and charity work.
Dadrawala said the trust decided that if the children do not get their attendance above 70 percent they will lose their monthly stipend of about $120. If they fail to graduate, they will forfeit a lump sum payment set aside by the filmmakers to help the children, who grew up in one of Mumbai’s more wretched slums, get a start in life.
Azhar’s mother, Shameen Ismail, said her son had been truant over the past two months because he was inconsolable after his father died in September from tuberculosis.
“He would cry often, so I kept him home from school for a while,” she said.
She promised his attendance would improve.
“As long as I’m alive, I will make sure my son gets an education,” she said.
Rubina’s father, Rafiq Qureshi, said the girl was not in school because her slum shanty was destroyed and she was cut on the leg by a piece of glass.
“It will not happen next time,” he said.
Now, look, I think that we all agree that no matter what side of the aisle we are on in regards to this movie, we all want the children of Slumdog Millionaire to have nice lives, and to get something positive out of their experience. (But not those other thousands of kids who live in the dirty, trash-strewn streets of India’s slums. Yuck! Those guys probably aren’t even adorable.)
But I continue to have a bad feeling about this. And my dwindling interest in their well-being, and the fact that I forgot that they even existed for awhile, suggests that it is not going to get any better! Please, children of Slumdog Millionaire, stay in school! You cannot count on being media darlings forever, and I don’t even know if Danny Boyle is going to make Slumdog Billionaire.
Good luck! Goodbye! Good luck!