Little Rubina Ali, the youngest Latika in Slumdog Millionaire, will return from her star-studded visit to the US and walk right into a real-life drama.
As the 10-year-old was hobnobbing with A-list movie stars at the Oscars and visiting Disneyland, her biological mom was slugging it out with her stepmother in the family’s Garib Nagar home over the spoils of sudden fame.
Now her biological mom, Khushi Rafiq Qureshi, says stepmother Munni is claiming undue credit for Rubina’s success. “Now that Rubina has become a celebrity, this second woman is claiming to be her mother and wants to take credit for her upbringing. It was my mother-in-law who raised them.”
Khushi left her carpenter husband Rafiq Qureshi and their three children five years ago and now lives separately in a rented accommodation in Navi Mumbai. She denies that she has resurfaced to bask in the child’s success, adding that Rubina must share her good fortune with siblings.
On Monday afternoon, as the Garib Nagar slum was celebrating the film’s sweeping win at the Oscars, Khushi came looking for her daughter, says neighbour Yakub Abdul Sheikh. A row began, and soon neighbours had to step in and separate Khushi and Munni, who, according to some reports, tore the clothes off each other.
‘Me? I want nothing’
Khushi says the disagreement was not over money. “I’m very proud and happy for my daughter. The success is only [due to] her luck and prayers of millions of Indians, not the so-called stepmother who is trying to claim credit,” she says. “I don’t want anything... not the money or gifts. I want it all to be shared by Rubina, her sister Sanaa (12) and brother Abbas (8).”
She added that she left Rafiq “because of his wayward behaviour”, and that she returned “occasionally” to ask about the children. “I even went for Rubina’s film shoots.”
There are fears that the bitterness will escalate now that Rubina and her young co-star Azhar are getting flats from the state.