It should have been a happy ending for the first-time actress Rubina Ali who grew up in the Dharavi slums of Bandra, Mubai, India, which is where the eight-time Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire movie is set.
But in the aftermath of her return to the slums, after a triumphant trip to the Oscars ceremony with her fellow costars earlier this year, life has taken a startling turn for Rubina Ali. Slumdog Millionaire girl for sale? Allegedly yes, and by none other than her father.
UK newspaper News of the World first broke the story that Rubina Ali father, Rafiq Qureshi, 36, attempted to sell her for £200,000 (nearly $300,000) to undercover reporters who had disguised themselves as a a wealthy couple from Dubai. The newspaper also published a photo of the disguised reporters meeting with the father. He is alleged to have said, during the negotiation of the alleged deal, “The child is special now. This is an Oscar child!”
The father denied the report, calling it a “lie made up by foreign journalists playing games with me.”
While acknowledging he received an offer to adopt her, Rafiq Qureshi alleges that he pretended to be interested to be polite.
“In India, you never say ‘no’ directly, least of all to guests. You try not to offend people by refusing to help. They said they were childless and desperately fond of Rubina after seeing her in the film. I felt sorry for them, but I was never going to give her up.”
Rubina Ali, Slumdog Millionaire girl herself confirmed what her father Rafiq Qureshi said.
“I trust my father. He loves me. He has never said that he wants to give me up. I did meet an uncle and auntie in a big hotel but it was not about adoption. I will never give any foreign journalist an interview again.”
Now in the latest development, Rafiq Qureshi was arrested and the police spent several hours questioning him about the incident. Reportedly they are now trying to obtain the video recordings from the meeting he had with the disguised reporters.
Reportedly, the Rubina Ali mother, Khurshida (who left the family in 2001, and whose husband has a new wife, Mina) knew two weeks ago about the alleged sale of her daughter. In an interview she said:
“My elder daughter had informed me…I did not believe he would actually go through with it.”
Khurshida accuses the father and his new wife as being “money-crazy” and wanting to cash in on the Rubina Ali Slumdog Millionaire fame.
Regarding her claims, Prakash Salunke, the police official who is leading the investigation, said that she had lodged a complaint with the police because she was upset by the media reports.
“We are registering her grievance and then we’ll investigate and decide what further steps should be taken in the matter.
“When we questioned Rubina she said she does not want to go anywhere and wants to live with her father.
“Similarly, Rafiq Qureshi also said he has no intentions of selling her.”
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights in India is also looking into the case and has sought the report from the police .
The nine-year-old actress, Rubina Ali, Slumdog Millionaire girl is still remembered both for her remarkable performance in the movie in the role of Latika as a young child (actress Freida Pinto portrayed the character as a young adult) as well as her appearance in the U.S. The movie chronicles the life story of an 18-year-old orphan, portrayed by Dev Patel, who wins India’s version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire.,’ with Pinto starring as the character’s love interest.
With her fellow child actor and neighbor, the 10-year-old Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Rubina Ali traveled to the U.S. for the 2009 Academy Awards where she and the rest of the cast (including the movie’s aforementioned costars Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, director, Danny Boyle and the soundtrack composer, A.R. Rahman) were a hit both at the red carpet and the Oscar ceremony.
More Rubina Ali Slumdog Millionaire photos and video are below.