I don’t get this…. Is this a form of modern day colonialism or just plain greed and child labour exploitation? I guess the argument is that, the child actors from Slumdog Millionaire should be happy they have a job at all – after all, there are over 65 million people (twice the population of Canada) living in slums in India

The movie has generated in excess of $100M, and was produced for less than $15M. In case you can’t do that math, that’s like a lot of money left over…

But for some reason, there doesn’t seem to be enough to go around to pay the child actors a fair wage. According to a FoxLight statement, the children were paid according to ‘Indian wages’ – which Indian wages are we talking about? India has got to be one of the most disparate class-based countries! The poorest street in the world is in India as is the most expensive street. Did they get the same Indian wages as Anil Kapoor (the actor playing the TV host)? I doubt he accepted 500 pounds for his work.

Rubina Ali (played the little girl) was paid 500 pounds for her role, and Azahruddin Ismail (played the older brother as a child) was paid 1700 pounds – all for one year’s work!!

Much hoopla has been made of how the child actors attended the Academy Awards, that their education will be paid for. Apparently Trust funds have been set up, but details of these have been lacking. The situation is so shameful that the Indian government has had to step in and buy them new homes.

Really?? Could you imagine any of the child actors in Hollywood being paid like that?? hey – Drew B- ‘great job on ET, here’s a house, now shoo-shoo…’

In a written statement, Danny Boyle and Christian Colson (the Producer) said that that they had

“paid painstaking and considered attention to how Azhar and Rubina’s involvement in the film could be of lasting benefit to them over and above the payment they received for their work”. It added: “The children had never attended school, and in consultation with their parents we agreed that this would be our priority. Since June 2008 and at our expense, both kids have been attending school and they are flourishing under the tutelage of their dedicated and committed teachers. Financial resources have been made available for their education until they are 18. We were delighted to see them progressing well when we visited their school and met with their teachers last week.”

A “substantial lump sum” would be paid to the children on completion of their studies, the statement added.

So what happens if they decide they don’t want to complete ‘their studies’. Who are Boyle and Colson to be making the decison for them? It isn’t like India doesn’t have a thriving movie industry (anyone heard of Bollywood??) that they couldn’t set them up with advisors and a structure that allows them to enjoy the results of their work now as well
This is one of the scurges of globalization – why are Indians paid ‘indian’ wages, while the kid from the UK paid ‘British’ wages. They are doing the same work – they should be paid the same.

And is the money for the British kid being put into a trust fund which he can’t touch until he has finished his studies?

The argument will be given that they are trying to the best thing for them. Aaah yes, the imperial mentality manifesting itself again. Of course we can’t trust anyone in India to take care of the children. Their society is corrupt and under developed isn’t it? Sure the more pragmatic and appropriate approach is for the great saviour from outside to save the poor little slumdogs. Sounds a bit colonial to me… what do you think?

References: Telegraph/p>