Slum children to have share of ‘Slumdog…’ profits: director

January 30th, 2009 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 30 (IANS) The makers of the celebrated British film “Slumdog Millionaire” plan to put back a “significant” share of profits from the film’s sales for the slum children, director Danny Boyle said.Boyle was quoted as saying Friday that investors were planning to meet in London next week to discuss how much money to put into a special fund and how best to distribute the cash.

“We want to set it up as soon as possible. What absolutely mustn’t happen is that the money disappears, or people think this is a PR stunt,” The Times quoted Boyle as saying.

Boyle and Christian Colson, one of the producers, spoke after the parents of child actors Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail accused the filmmakers of exploiting and under-paying the eight-year-olds, who live in Mumbai slums.

However, Boyle said that the fund had nothing to do with any criticism.

“This is our chance to give something back to an extraordinary city which has helped us produce an extraordinary film. We came up with it once we realised what a success the film was becoming after the Golden Globes [Awards],” he said.

He said fund would seek to help underprivileged children in Mumbai and “perhaps” the rest of India.

Both Rubina and Azharuddin, who play the lead characters as children, would be paid a “substantial lump sum” when they reached 18 and had completed their studies.

“It’s a carrot to encourage them to stay at school,” Colson told The Times, adding the filmmakers had taken “a conscious decision not to shower” the children with money.

“They would not be able psychologically and practically to handle that. Our plan is to ameliorate their lives.”

But Colson said feverish media interest has forced the children to be removed from school in Mumbai and returned to their village homes.

Since the children began their education last June, at the filmmakers’ expense, “the transformation of them has been eye-watering,” claimed Boyle. He added he was “determined to protect them from anything that might distort or harm” their future opportunities.

Defending the film’s title, Boyle said, “Protest is a way of life in India.”

“It’s an extraordinary democracy. You just hope it won’t become violent. My concern is that it doesn’t hurt the kids and that my own children don’t see anything like that. It’s distressing.”

Boyle said the word “slumdog” wasn’t intended as an insult.

“It’s meant as ‘underdog’, the romantic idea of a guy succeeding on his own terms against all kinds of adversity. We tried to reflect as much of the city as we could. It’s a place of extremes. The feel-good element comes from Mumbai having this extraordinary resilience and effervescence of energy. Like New York, it’s a city that grabs you by the throat and says ‘Welcome’. I am proud of it.”

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