Rubina from slumdog millionaire for sale ? The British Tablioid needs to be condemmed for the ‘sting’ operation.

I just worked with Rubina, the little girl from Slumdog millionaire -and what a joy she was to work with. Happy and full of laughter, her smile would light up smiles for the whole crew, as she no doubt did for the whole world in Slumdog millionaire.(Of course she had a reflex response too. The moment I would say action, her first instinct was a broad charming smile and that slightly infectious laugh. It too me a little while to gently tell her that she did not have to do that all the time!)
I had been reading about what was going on with her father’s alleged attempts to ‘sell’ her. I was aghast though at the sting operation done by that British Tabloid, which instead of being condemned world wide is being heralded as a great piece of journalism !
Not a single thought was given to the trauma that the little girl would go through with world wide publicity that her own father was trying to sell her. And what was the tabloid trying to do ? Trying to push a father to name a price for his daughter’s adoption ? To go to a poor man in a slum who has spent his life not knowing where the next meal is going to come from, and then dangle a few hundred thousand pounds in front of him to entice and entangle him into a negotiation for the adoption of his daughter ? By enticing him to say those words that would make headlines all over the world ? How dare they judge and manipulate other people and their moral predicaments from their comfortable colonial point of view. I would rather have them arrested for obscene suggestions and offers than the father for coming to the negotiating table.
Hey ! what kind of beasts are we dealing with here ? And all done in the name of journalism ? Please look at the picture from the Indian Express (link given below), of little Rubina and her father surrounded by the police. Is this the picture of a sensational little girl that lit up the smiles of millions people all over the world ? She looks like a little girl frightened out of her life by what is happening !

45 thoughts on “Rubina from slumdog millionaire for sale ? The British Tablioid needs to be condemmed for the ‘sting’ operation.

  1. This is atrocious.
    She looks so scared. So very scared.
    But this is what tabloids do all the time, don’t they? Yellow journalism.

  2. I totally agree with you on condemning a sting operation ‘enticing’ a poor father to sell off his daughter.
    But then wouldn’t the same argument hold true for every sting operation where the likes of Tehelka should be blamed and possibly banned for conducting sting operation ‘by dangling a few thousand crores’ and ‘enticing’ politicians and actors for condemnable acts.

  3. Dear Shekhar,
    I am perplexed whether the seriousness of heinous act of the British newspaper commited comes before the acquiesance of the father to sell the daughter.
    I wonder whether we would have ever known of such thoughts being processed by the father for his daughter had it not being for the paper which made the act known irrespective of their own morals. Alternately the benefit of doubt to the father who has perhaps only seen poverty thru his life and perhaps sees a good vision of prosperity for himself and his daughter and may not be too concerned about being seperated from by her adoption.
    I wonder whether we can expect any high standards of moral obligations from parents from such backgrounds towards their children.
    There may be hundreds of Rubinas whom we never hear of , undergoing trauma at being sold off. Rubina incidentally happens to be in the limelight because of SM and hence perhaps draws more sympathy and attention.
    Nevertheless the need of the hour is to protect what we know and that is the child. I feel the state should take over her guardianship pronto and the press should ensure uninterrupted feedback on her welfare. Dreamy prospect ..yes but better than what is happening now !!
    warm regards

  4. Hi Shekhar,
    I was watching Barkha’s show last night on this very same topic…Renuka Choudhari and you share the same views but Bagchi ( I hope i got the spelling right) opposed them. She felt we cannot make poverty an excuse for what is morally wrong.
    I personally think she has forgotten that first and foremost a person is a human being then a father daughter son brother.
    All human beings are vulnerable. If you dangle a carrot the size of 1.8 crores, even someone a little better off than Rubina’s father may fold!
    Yes it is wrong on the father’s part to even consider it, but what is worse is to put this family through the trauma of having to even make this decision.
    Can these so called journalists ( more like hound paparazzi) imagine what the father must have had to go through internally to even reach the decision (allegedly)?
    And what of poor little Rubina`s feelings??
    The children rights people should sue them for 1.8 crore dollars.

  5. Shekhar, if what you have written is true, this has to be said out aloud and the Journalists Sued.
    Please do something about this.

  6. Dear Mr. Kapur and all of you who read this great blog,
    As an American when I heard about this story I was very angry. I was thinking “what kind of monster would sell his/her daughter.” After reading this blog, while I still feel the same I do understand why Mr. Kapur and some of you might be upset that the media published this story.
    While I do understand that point, especially after looking at the picture I still do not regret that the media published the story. Maybe it is because I am ignorant to understand the society people in poverty live in? Maybe I am just as ignorant as other westerners?
    Maybe the media should have handled this better, but I still cannot completely criticize them for publishing the story.
    Thanks everyone!

  7. shekhar, very well said – no one wants to think that what must be going on in that poor little child’s mind/psyche? these journos must be arrested…..

  8. What you wrote is very true but Journalism was never a journalism to begin with. We have been showing that in movies, people getting older learning journalism shed their ideologies when they are in College as they start to face a real life. : WOH KAHAWAT HAI — ” tali ek haath se nahin bajtee” something similar here BUT your point taken as these FOLKS doing business of ” Publishing & Journalism” earn their living more or less doing this, these days and this is sad. I think we are talking more of moral and ethical values here but WHO cares..? is the moral & ethic these days. I agree with Navin Dutt above.
    Anyway.. lot of these things are going on and through the power of blogging, we can condemn openly and this will move to the right place at the right time, for the right people to see who are doing the WRONG thing

  9. every one is doing what they can!…every one has choice to change that!…i took bath and went back to writing after reading the news…now a days i dont feel sad for those who are powerless…rather i feel sad for those who are in power…even after reaching to a stage of MODERN world of human race, they seem to be more than primitive deep inside…
    they produce guns, they invest in wars, they sell religion and then they worry about welfare of the human race…i dont even feel like laughing at them forget getting angry…
    i cry a lot these days not for them…not for me…i cry when i listen to Kumar Gandahrva or jasraj or bhimsen…
    i guess i will start exploring music too soon…

  10. shekhar, couldn’t agree more. some journalists in the west are deplorable, and they certainly don’t have the right to do sth like this in another country. such media attention sometimes brings out the worst in people, and you can not always blame them for their behaviour…for eg look at what happens on reality TV here. for example, the shetty/ goody fued. jade goody was no doubt a bully, but after being evicted she went on a massive guilt trip and many feel that the stress of it all nd the continued media attention led to her death…but some people in the media will never learn.
    love, shivani

  11. From the USA, I did not think this was a feel-good movie. Since seeing it I’ve been concerned about all the children involved in the film, not just the two stars.
    I think it is atrocious for a tabloid to do a sting on a child’s father and publish the results worldwide.
    I wrote about it here
    because the exploitation of children on all levels worries me. I also think there is racism and prejudice against the poor in the readiness to believe that ‘those people sell their children’.
    thanks for your post, and I hope that there are good people in India looking after Rubina’s safety and well-being.

  12. Sir,
    Isn’t this attempt to increase the Box office collections WorldWide and pushing Slumdog a little more. Isn’t this attempt now to further promote Poverty Porn to the World specially China now thats where the slumdog film prints are travelling to.
    Vinod Agarwal – Learning Marketing truths of the West…!!

  13. They come in drones to buy our children to sell them to adoptive parents, to put them on Camels,young girls to marry off to old men and now a sting operation to partake of the glory of little Rubina.Where are their souls??
    In unison let’s put that beautiful smile back on RUBINA- SHE HAS NOW BECOME OUR LITTLE GODDESS.

  14. This is what I have been trying to focus on when the Indian media went ga-ga over Slumdog. It was a mediocre movie at best, it worked only coz it showed India in bad light, I wonder if it would work if it was set in Britian or US.
    They like to make third world inhabitants look cheap, but they forgot it isnt any third world country they are dealing with, they are dealing with INDIA.

  15. Well we could argue on and on about what journalism is about or not, but the thing is the man tried to sell his little girl to a rich man who could have use her for anything (pornography, slavery etc…). He did not look tense on the video when he was discussing his share right ?
    Ok we are all humans and blabla, but let’s not try to make excuses. Nobody in this trades (the parents and the buyers) is fool or blind enough to deeply think that these sold child are adopted and have a better life !!
    We have to put the child first !

  16. Cannot agree more with you. If a paper has to do a sting operation, do it on the government and military (UK as US’s B team) where there might be corruption! Thanks for saying this Shekhar!

  17. I am really in two minds about the ethics that prevail amongst journalists – its not just tabloids alone. Perhaps its a sign of our times and how values change – the more savy term or excuse, if you like, for this is how everything is market driven!
    However, there is also perhaps something we are all missing in this. Haven’t this little girl and the other child artists been manipulated by their employers? SDM earned millions if Im not wrong – even tho’ as an Indian I’m quite perplexed by all the hoo haa over it.
    These kids should have been in clover, like the other adult artists of the movie, including the Indians. Were these children given a fair deal? That is I think the point this sting was trying to put across. These kids were and perhaps are still being exploited.

  18. I do not get why the paper is entirely to blame. The father was willing to negotiate a price for his daughter. Isn’t that despicable, no matter how poor he was. Poverty is not an excuse for moral turpitude. And I post this as a human being not as an Indian, not as a person living in the West. At least Rubina now knows her “worth” for her family, and can guard herself against it, not blindly believe her guardians.

  19. I completely agree Shekar – i was aghast at the lowest of low levels that so called journalism can go to. Imagine this poor father perhaps hardly educated being forced by ‘foreign’ people to say some things. Why anyone can be forced from a position of strength and superiority. Its really a case of the haves just road rolling over the have-nots – Shame on them!

  20. Dear Shekhar,
    I read and enjoy your thoughts and observations posted on your blog and I also enjoyed Masoom ( though not the two Elizabeths, I must confess) but I do not agree with you about the Rubina matter. Granted that this innocent little girl with her bright sunshine smile should not have been subjected to the treatment she received at the hands of her avaricious father and the Mumbai police but that does not mean that the sting operation was a mistake. Whoever posed as the prospectrive adopter(for lack of a better word) was not enticing Rubina’s father to sell his daughter.The father was a willing party.This sting operation and the attendant publicity will serve the purpose of keeping the father from turning his daughter into a cash cow some day.

  21. Sir,
    I like to share a statistic figure here. Slumdog Grosses Worldwide $327 millions (Rs.1600 crores)as against the same amount of total 2008 Hindi Film Box office Gross.
    SIR, You have already BEEN THERE and DONE THAT at OSCARS.
    Vinod Agarwal – Wonders what ever it takes to appeal WorldWide audience.

  22. Success of SDM : I guess this is human psychology of a “Feel Good” factor especially when you see a movie where poverty, hardship and good music combines.In Western societies, they tend to believe that “they are much better than others .. and say to their kids — Look at India and look where we are”. You can see that one-sided Attitude all over US & Europe, the hard heads regions. But as an Indian, I felt bad after watching this.. I don’t see any better than “Salaam Bombay” and that too, was a HoHa at the time, just because it drew international attention just beacause it had Good music. Imagine a documentary on SDM !! Now even the music that won an oscar, Westerners don’t know that AR Rehman has done some much better music and probably he must be just very pleased with this oscar (May be laughing inside). SDM cannot even compete at the Indian Box Office. The point is : “People start thinking when a personality says something about something” Even in this blog, Shekhar felt something so he wrote this. But when we respond to a situation, everybody doesn’t THINK completely to a situation rather they finish unfinished & that lacks clarity every time. Shekhar’s perspective is to see through the EYES of Western culture where they might think that “they even own the other cultures and their values by their own self inflicted, TV based prejudices and frankly, who made those prejudices – TV & Media and their so called Journalists only. Everything is connected. Some are educated shameless and some are uneducated ones.
    So what we do !! We all think and then it a word of mouth publicity which is better than any news paper.
    I agree that ” without aggressive persuasion, a person like Rubina’s father wouldn’t have given this a proper thought and that is important. & at the same time, it is also important to consider to what extend these child artists were paid.. Were they paid properly ? after the success, I mean. Now success doesn’t mean that you just go out and start buying anything you feel like..

  23. I will not go for bashing British Tabloid for this case. They do not cover news these days. They cover only controversies and affairs.Shame on them…
    As per your movie project on water,I have found an informative link….
    “Five big food and beverage companies — Nestle, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch and Danone — consume almost 575 billion litres of water a year, enough to satisy the daily water needs of every person on the planet.”
    For more reading, click on URL…

  24. I think it was very sneaky.
    Perhaps the idea that a parent is willing to sell his/her child is sad to hear, but that is mutually exclusive from this situation. What IS the issue is that there are humans who are trying to sow a seed where it probably wasnt there, and wouldnt have gotten triggered. It’s despicable.

  25. Dear shekhar,
    I am really touched by this post. This is a subject which i had in mind for years. You have to tell this to wider audience,through a film. Here in india, two ,three english news channels have taken the role of the state and government to change the rules and value systems of indian society. The most interesting part is that all these channels belong to one colonial point of view.Journalists of CNN IBN exploited the ‘muthalik issue’ to change the culture of india and propagated that indian culture never respect women. I hate that man ‘muthalik’ for giving these kind of journalists a chance to propagate their agenda. Because of muthalik kind of guys, anybody can bash indian culture and our valure system. “Coca-colonialisation” is wide spread. It has its influence on cinema,indian english writing,news channels, entertainment channels,lifestyle magazines and everywhere.
    News channels are marching into people’s privacy and make news of every common incident and they are now think of themselves are the leaders of this nation who can do and change whatever as they wish. They shout for gay marriage rights, Live in realtionship, and the pub culture. Are these things india really want for an existence..? Only 10% elite class exist in india. Here, these people are setting value system in the american fashion. It’s now becoming like Hitlers’ Fascism. Here common man has no rights. Its all decided by news channels and film and ad people. If we don’t want to adapt self destructive western culture of drinks,drugs and junk food, why they aggressively push us to do…? this is not democracy for sure.
    shekhar, DId u ever notice the way some news channel senior editors behave to people who oppose their views. They use to laugh aloud and insult them without any hint of descency and even they never allows them to state their view completely. This is the news channel style. They will put 4 strong people who shout it’s own points and the audience who sit around there will only clap on their points. The opposition parties will be two old people who can’t talk english properly while the other team can make fun of them…Please make a movie on this ‘western slavery of news channels”….

  26. I agree with you.
    From what little I have seen on TV; I have come to the understanding that the father met the first time because it was some sheik and his wife who were impressed with the acting of his daughter.
    He was being nice.
    He refused to bring his daughter for the second meeting. He had the commonsense to understand what was going on.
    I don’t think the father did anything wrong. The media is making a issue out of a non-issue. The father did the right things.The way the media is judging the man’s integrity is what’s hurting me the most, when I can clearly see that he didn’t do anything wrong.

  27. Awesome Vaishak. Good observation & a valid point. It is not just about the way British Tabloid did this or may be didn’t even intended to do it or not thought that this would end this way. It’s also about the way they take the opportunity to sneak in….
    They should have behaved distinctively, rather should have opposed differently the way Journalists should. There are lot of great scholars in Journalism too.. I mean Great people like Mr. Khushwant Singh, Mr. Singhania and many others.. who write after a thorough thought process or say. They convey the point & make people any good movie in the end. They should never ever loose their respect. Still I would say — “in today’s world, everything is not just about selling” , “everything is not just about Finding who did what wrong FIRST”, ” everything is not just about pointing fingers to justify themselves” — There are still lots of things which one can only feel….only relate..
    Though I believe that morals are changing rapidly and everybody can justify almost anything to whatever they do, because of the access of information available at hand, without giving second thought to what it can do….that’s the KEY
    Anyway.. this can go on forever..

  28. when you become celebrity…Then every one wants to sell you and make money. What happened here…Don’t know if Father sold the daughter or not..? But Tablioid had deffinately sold this story and must have made quite a bucks(quids). Sensation sells and especially when linked with a new found fame.
    In this jungle of materials, everyone is out there to get you and make money.Watch out before some one sells you too.
    “Ham hain mata-e -kuchao Bazar ki tarah”
    “Uthati har nigah khareed dar ki tarah”

  29. Thank goodness! Someone out there who is sensible and sensitive to understand a thing called mind. An eye opening expression of humane thought.

  30. Whatever happens who so ever lures, or whatever
    The Father should not give into this…whether get carried away or feel money pour in or whatever
    If the father does not take care of his creation at this age…what can we expect from others?
    Dont care how many rumours, newspaper nonsense goes on..the father should stand there protecting his child
    If he can’T would like to ‘BEHEAD’ Him

  31. Not trying to be judgemental, nor do I have the authority to point fingers at anyone…
    The fathers face index seems more like a ‘Dallal’
    I could be horribly wrong, but why he looks like one, I cannot understand!
    HI there Shekhar!!

  32. We from the beginning were to be aware and prepared that after such a movie and such intense publicity etc, etc.
    The children’s life ..those in the movie would never remain the same…
    hence the trauma had already begun…we would give it a name…’Change’ ‘Goodluck’ ‘destiny’
    The newspaper mentioned it in uk, and we cry what say of the political rally that was focused with these kids?
    There are various buyers/traumatisers in various forms everywhere
    The father better protect!
    Or allow me to ‘behead’ him
    I WOULD!!

  33. …yellow journalism? why just get mad about rubina, thr are so many instances whr media is squarely responsible for the fictional headlines created to attract eyeballs or readership! peril of the trade perhaps…

  34. I didn’t know it was a sting operation! The news articles don’t say it was a sting operation by British Tabloid!
    hmmm thats sad, why did the British feel the need to do it?
    Talking about street kids, I have spent time with some of them at a street school, many of them are happy kids often with astonishing wit!

  35. Sometimes media creates even funny situations because of lack of knowledge of the languages they use. Such as today a newschannel was writing “Ranbaj” to a player who made more runs than others in an IPL match.
    Now Ranbaj in Punjabi and perhaps even in usual Hindi is used for a womaniser lol.

  36. I have to disagree with you completely here. Granted you have a personal relationship with that bright sunshiney little girl, having worked professionally with her. Agreed that you do not want her to suffer in any way, whether due to the actions of the media or her own flesh and blood. However, she is and will be for a long time the symbol of how poverty affects girl children in India. This goes for her personally as well as the role that made her famous. There is absolutely no getting away from that. As such what happens to her remains a litmus test of how children from poorer homes (which form the majority of the populace) fare in a India struggling with a new world and economic order. Is it any wonder that she and her family were subjected to examination under the microscope? Do you honestly even expect anyless? I would be dissapointed it it were anyless. We need benchmarks to measure ourselved by… morally, and economically. She is that. Definately. Her fame made her that. She can be agent for change. Her very existance and circumstances make her an agent for change in my view.
    Even under very normal circumstances, would you condone and turn a blind eye to child selling under any circumstances? Would you really? Being poor does not excuse her family for human trafficing… which is what it is. Would you allow this to be pushed under the rug because this child will be hurt when the situation can be used to test case and warning for those who might do this to children that are not in the public eye. Children that you and I do not know and do not perhaps care about personally. For greater good of all, is harsh but you know what… in the rough and tumble world that is poverty, it works. Form a connection with the slums yourself to experience what it is to be a child who is merely a commodity for wage earning. You may possibly think differently about what happened and will happen to Rubina now and in the future.

  37. In the end, I will have to agree with “AnotherKiranInNYC”. That makes sense and that is the very purpose of a blog to come out of a discussion which gives it a sort of sense or a right direction eventually, which made me write this.
    Britishers ruled us for 300 years and this is nothing…though today we can blog and say anything or rather express anything. Writing itself is a way to express better. People who were kings at the time were being bought.. Poor Rubina is nothing but YES, today that balance of APPROACH to each other’s work/deeds can be achieved in a society. It’s not easy to survive in slums where we bloggers don’t have any experience.. 🙂 but YES, BASIC system of Society in India has still not changed yet !! People just don’t care.. let me put it this way.. Dowry still prevails ! Money is still important !! Govt. folks still take bribes wherever possible.. so it is a bigger problem as it is..
    ??? ?????? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ???
    ?? ?????? ????? ???? ?? ??? ?????????? ???? ???
    ?? ???? ?????? ?? ????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ???. ?? ?? ??? ?????? ??.
    Anyway.. we all have a tendency to start “Thinking” when something starts by a ” celebrity” as I wrote before but YES, in the end — what is that we are trying to SAY here..
    Moral values are not taught in India.. they are taught by parents and their parents and sankaras are poured down that way.. is what I believe. I was wrong I must admit to Condemn totally the Tabloid but now I feel better..
    We cannot condemn one side totally without knowing the circumstances on the other side.

  38. I’m not sure what has made people actually sit up and think about. Whether it genuinely is what you feel about the children in the slums or the fact that you feel India has been portrayed in Bad light -as in the depiction of Mumbai’s Slum life rather than the High class western Cultured niches that we are exposed to in Film Magazines.
    What are People Scared off. They Drive 7 days a week past Dharavi but it took a Movie to highlight an ongoing problem
    I personally feel its a bloody Fantastic Film.
    Don’t think Danny made it with any malice involved.
    It is a brilliant honest piece of film making.
    Absolutely loved it.
    As in for the father – Not to Condone but Who is to say what each one of us as fathers would have done in the very same situation. The righteous lot are we?
    As for Rubina – Thats too much of a burden to Carry on those little shoulders.
    As for the Newspapers – As long as you buy gossip like THE SUN or THE NEWS OF THE WORLD. They are going to be around.

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