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Slumdog... money tale gets knotty

india Updated: Apr 20, 2009 02:14 IST
Serena Menon & Naomi Canton
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Figures unheard of at Garib Nagar, a slum in Bandra, were thrown about on Sunday amid claims, counterclaims and confusion.

“It’s all utter rubbish, I know Rafiq — he dotes on his daughter and would never do any such thing,” said a middle-aged man at the slum, reacting to reports that Rafiq Qureshi, father of Rubina Ali who played young Latika in Slumdog Millionaire allegedly tried to sell her off for £200,000 (Rs 1.4 crore). “And even if he wanted to be rich, keeping her would be better, rather than earning a lump sum.” Scared by the police presence, the man didn’t reveal his identity.

Rubina’s (biological) mother Khursida on Sunday lodged a police complaint following media reports that her estranged husband allegedly attempted to sell their daughter.

“I don’t understand why it’s such big deal. Ethics are the novelty of the rich,” said Roshni D, a college student watching repetitive shots of the spy cam footage on the plasma TV screen in Rubina’s shack, showing Rafiq making the alleged deal. “These people have always lived like this, just that we now have a sneak peak into their system and everyone flabbergasted.”

DCP (Zone 8) Nishar Tamboli said Rafiq, Khursida and Mina (her stepmother) were called to record their statements.

Slumdog Millionaire’s makers have established a Rs 4-crore community fund to improve the lives of people living in Bandra slums. They have also set up a separate trust, called the Jai Ho trust, for Rubina and her co-star Azharuddin Ismail, which will provide for their educational and welfare needs.

“She was very upset by the media reports and she came to lodge a compliant. We are registering her grievance and then we’ll investigate and decide what further steps should be taken in the matter,” said Prakash Salunkhe, who heads the Nirmal Nagar police station.

“When we questioned Rubina, she said she does not want to go anywhere, and wants to live with her father,” Salunkhe said. “Similarly, Rafiq Qureshi also said that he has no intentions of ‘selling’ her, as reported in the media.”

Khursida expressed shock over the reports. “Although my elder daughter Sanaa had informed me about the matter almost two weeks ago, I did not believe he (Rafiq) would actually agree to it,” she said.

She alleged that Rafiq and his second wife Mina were always “crazy for money” and now that Rubina had achieved fame, they wanted to capitalise on it. Rafiq has denied all claims.

(With inputs from Debasish Panigrahi and agencies)