Slumdog shares its success with Mumbai’s children

The makers of the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire have donated US$747,500 to a charity devoted to improving the lives of street children in Mumbai, the filmmakers said Thursday.

MUMBAI, India — The makers of the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire have donated US$747,500 to a charity devoted to improving the lives of street children in Mumbai, the filmmakers said Thursday.

The money will be given to Plan, an international children’s charity that has been working in India since 1979. The aim is to help educate 5,000 slum children over the next five years.

“The bottom line is that some of the beneficiaries of the film’s success have got together to make a donation which will be channelled into relatively small communities where it can hopefully have a tangible and lasting impact,” producer Christian Colson told The Associated Press by email.

Slumdog Millionaire, a rags-to-riches tale of a slum kid who makes it big, won eight Oscars and has grossed more than $300 million worldwide.

Some criticized the filmmakers for failing to share those riches with Mumbai’s millions of slum dwellers. Others accused them of exploiting two of the movie’s child stars, Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, who grew up in a wretched Mumbai slum just minutes from a posh Bollywood enclave.

The filmmakers’ initial efforts to help the families of Rubina, 9, and Azharuddin, 10, were thwarted by excessive media attention, the changing demands of family members and the runaway success of the film.

Sudden fame and relative fortune sowed resentment in the families of the child stars and complicated relations with their neighbours.

The filmmakers feared that if they gave the families a lump sum up front, the money would be squandered or extorted.

The filmmakers said Thursday they have appointed three trustees with long experience in social services to manage a trust fund for the two children., which they can tap after finishing high school.

The Jai Ho Trust aims to ensure that the pair will get a good education, adequate housing and social support, the filmmakers said.

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