Slumdog Millionaire child stars go to Disneyland

The child stars from Slumdog Millionaire are prolonging their stay in America with a trip to Disneyland. The children who represent the stars of the film at different ages were flown from Mumbai to LA to attend the Oscars, where their film won best picture. Yesterday they were spotted at the theme park. According to reports ahead of the Oscars, most of them still live in the conditions depicted in the film and it was thought that they are expected to return to that when they go back to India.

A lot of you think that it’s too simplistic of both Kaiser and me to expect the Slumdog people to help these children move out of the slums of Mumbai now. While the movie put a sheen of romantic remembrance on the place, even making a scene where a child is covered in human feces look cute, the reality is neither quaint nor comfortable. These children were the stars of the film and were paid less than $3,000 a piece. They were given trusts that will allow them to move to homes at the age of 18 if they finish school. Meanwhile members of their families may die young due to living in those conditions. The father of 10 year-old Azhar has tuberculosis and he still lives under a plastic sheet.

It may be the case that the children have been able to move out despite a BBC news segment ahead of the Oscars that showed the youngest children still living there. I found an AP article that some of you seemed to refer to in the comments that says that director Danny Boyle has arranged for apartments for the families as the children are schooled. It isn’t a simple issue and this article shed light on that.

I know there are no easy solutions to this, but how is it fair to those children to bring them to Hollywood for the Oscars, give them a vacation in California that costs thousands (Disneyland is not cheap) and then just send them back? It may well be the case that they will have a better life, but that it will incrementally better instead of vastly different. Boyle has called his treatment of the children a “slow nurturing” as opposed to “a sudden dash for glory.” Maybe the filmmakers understand it all better than I do and I hope that these kids and their families go on to a better future whichever way that comes about. It still strikes me as someone who thinks they know best, but at least they’re trying.

Huffington Post has Ryan Seacrest’s interview with the kids in which he discovers that Azhar doesn’t speak English and they also have more photos of the kids at Disneyland.

Photo credit: Bauergriffinonline

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14 Responses to “Slumdog Millionaire child stars go to Disneyland”

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  1. Bros says:

    i get the antipathy towards danny boyle because it is our impulse to just say, oh he could throw a couple ten thousand bucks at this family and fix the problems-i think the reality is much greyer and hazier than a director deciding how much and when to pay the child actors or their families….on the one hand, the expectation that being in this film is necessarily a ticket to a different life in a high rise out of the slums as the result of a gift bestowed/owed by a white man is neocolonial, and on the other, not lifting the whole family out of poverty and setting up trust funds in a ‘slow nurturing’ is neocolonial. there isnt an easy way out of this one, but i trust a lot of thought and care was put into the decision making.

  2. kiki says:

    why is it not fair to bring them over for an Oscar party and Disneyland? would it have been fairer to leave them back and forget about them? I swear people think backwards 99 % of the time ( in the sense that they would rather never GIVE than give and share ) Everyone deserves Joy and happiness in their lives even little slumdog kids who get to go on a wonderful trip to oscars and Disneyland.

  3. 88modesty88 says:

    kiki, you took the words right out of my mouth! (Or stole them off my keyboard…)
    I agree, would it have been any better leaving them behind? Never giving them the chance to experience something they would never have experienced at all?

    It’s definitely a grey area… I dearly want to help each and every beggar hoping for a handout at traffic lights here in Joburg, South Africa, but it’s a fact of life that I can’t help them all.
    So should I rather not give money to any of them? Or is it *okay* for me to help where I can?

  4. texasmom says:

    Well, it isn’t like you can wave money over them like a magic wand to fix eerything, but it does seem like something could be done for them now, not just when they finish school. I mean, how is a kid going to finish school if his tubercular dad dies and he has to fend for himself in a giant slum? Why not set up something where their trust pays for schooling and housing until they are 18 and then they get whatever’s left?

  5. texasmom says:

    Remember these aren’t generic kids in a generic slum, these are particular kids who helped make a fantastically successful film that enriched a whole bunch of adults.

  6. tigerlille says:

    To bring the children to the Oscars ceremony and take them to Disney World, and then return them to the same life threatening conditions in India, when the same amount of money could have secured safe housing, some degree of health care and education for these children and their families might be seen as a cynical publicity stunt and obscene exploitation. I don’t think that it is hard to understand what would be unfair about the above scenario.

    Hopefully, the children can enjoy the trip, and they and their families can be given safe housing. an opportunity for education, and a better future. The cost of doing these things in India is pretty insignificant, particularly in light of what the film has grossed.

  7. geronimo says:

    CB – you’re looking at this from your perspective not the kids’. You’re seeing the disparity between what they’re enjoying now at Disneyland and the life they have to return to. It’s a compassionate perspective, I completely understand it, but it’s yours not theirs and not necessarily a realistic one.

    Again, I’m with Bros here, Boyle can’t take on single-handedly the failures of the Indian government. I’m sure he and others involved with ‘Slumdog’ are doing and will continue to do what they can to try and ensure a hopeful future for these kids.

  8. Baholicious says:

    We’re not talking about the entire child populations of the slums, we’re talking a few children here. Certainly more can be done for them during the interim of the 3k salary and later schooling, particularly for the child’s father who has TB.

    I think bringing them to the Oscars and Disneyland would have been a genuinely memorable experience for these children and I honestly hope they enjoyed themselves tremendously.

    And Kiki just so you know, ‘Slumdog’ is a pejorative term. The people who live like this are properly called ‘Dalits.’

  9. Annie says:

    From what I’ve heard, more IS being dumb and that Mr. Boyle has safeguarded their future from beggars/swindlers/blackmailers etc etc. All of whom come a dime a dozen in the slums. We’re talking exploiting anyone for anything.

    And now that it’s out that these children have money, could you imagine how terrible it could get?

    Also, I read somewhere that he offered to move them out of the slums and into America but the kids didn’t want to and the family didn’t want to because their everything was there.

  10. Annie says:

    done* Damn you lack of editting feature.

    Also, I’m reading now that the family has been asking for more and more money and then not using it for the purposes they claim (ie: getting themselves out of the slum.)

  11. Baholicious says:

    And again Annie, I agree it’s possible about the asking for more money thing. That’s kind of a thing in India, they do it with dowries all the time (and that’s supposed to be outlawed too). Indian society is also one where haggling in business is just part of doing business.


    People have to remember, these are simple people with NOTHING. They get money, the first thing they’re going to do with it is acquire trappings of what they consider ‘Western success.’ I bet they’ve gotten a t.v. and a generator to hook it up to; some Nike or Adidas wear. Who knows. What I do know is that they’re not meeting with financial advisors and investing their 3 grand apiece.

    They’re going to buy what they need or want now – just like everybody else in the world does.

  12. Bros says:

    well baho, apparently it isnt going to medical care for the father, which is what i think annie is pointing out.

  13. lrm says:

    Again,as stated on a previous thread on this topic-it is very VERY American to say ‘oh,impulsively,this is what we must do b/c it’s injust to leave them there’.
    Honestly,it’s not so much that it’s a ‘grey area’,but that sometimes well intended actions have ill intended consequences. This is not the first time an issue like this has had to be mulled over and decided upon.
    It will not be best in all likelihood to suddently rip the children from their social fabric,immerse them in a new value system [even if it’s in mumbai,there are huge differences between classes] and expect that they will be better off simply b/c they have running water and money.
    Yes,medical care for the dad would be good-and yes,current environment makes TB hard to treat.
    That aside,I don’t understand why the OP writers do not see the parallels?
    EX: Child stars in america whose parents bankrupt them,who have filed for emancipation at a young age?
    OR,people who win the lottery and are broke a year or 5 yrs later.
    It IS a process of education to integrate money and recognition into one’s life.
    I think Boyle has considered this,as well as those who would take advantage of someone in this situation…[think Anne Hathaway was taken for a ride? Imagine this scenario.]And Boyle has determined that allowing for some awareness of how to handle the money,education and new status,would be far more beneficial than ripping them away=People,esp. children,rely for life [we are biologically wired for bonding,it’s called the polyvagal theory-our nervous systems are wired for it]on their social networks. And India,like most places in the world,relies on extended community,not just the nuclear family.
    Hey,it’s even been researched that childrren are often better off in an abusive situation,emotionally/psychologically,than taking them away from their mothers,esp. the younger they are.
    I know this makes no sense on many levels,but I need to point out how intricate and integral community life is to human survival.

    Would the children be irreparably harmed if Boyle moved them out pronto and/or simply gave their families their trust now? Probably not,but my odds are on the fact that they’d end up destitute again within a few years. I believe he made the right choice. Time will tell. Check back in 10 yrs and see what the kids think then. Adn wonder what the Dad thinks now?
    Sure,reporters go in and film the conditions,but has he been quoted as to what he would like as a parent? What do the parents want?

  14. bros says:

    i know its a late post and probably no one is reading, but celebitchy, you should do a write up of this:

    the nytimes does a really good job of getting a behind-the-scenes explanation of the political climate in which all this controversy is being stoked and instigated. as i mentioned before, this is all politically motivated because of india’s internal political conditions and has much less to do with boyle or the movie. check it out!