Rubina Ali Qureshi, child artiste from the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire has strongly denied that her father tried to sell her off to undercover reporters posing as rich Middle East couple. Dismissing the report published in a London newspaper, Rubina says she is very dear to her parents and they would never dream of doing something so dastardly.
News of the World published a story on Sunday claiming its investigators met Rubina's father and uncle in a Mumbai hotel and tried to negotiate a deal for illegal adoption. According to the report, Rubina's father Rafiq Qureshi demanded $400,000 to sell his daughter off, saying she is now special as an 'Oscar child'. Rubina shot to fame overnight as the young Latika in British director Danny Boyle's movie that picked up eight Oscars, besides many more international awards.
Speaking exclusively to NDTVMovies.com, both Rubina and her father have called the news report baseless. Says Rubina, "Ye sahi hai ki main hotel apne father and Rajan uncle ke saath gayee thi kyonki un logon ne bulaya tha. Waha ek madam thi jinko Hindi nahi aati thi. Unka secretary hi saari batain kar raha tha. Un logon ne mere papa se kaha ki wo mujhe adopt karna chahte hai lekin mere papa taiyar nahi hue." (It's true that I went to the hotel with my father and my uncle Rajan. We met a madam there who was unable to speak in Hindi. She had a secretary who was doing all the talking. They told my father they want to adopt me but my father didn't agree to the proposition.)
Even Rafiq Qureshi claims he is shocked by these allegations. "Meri beti meri jaan se jayda kimti hai. Maine isse itni mehnat majdoori ker ke pal pose ker bada kiya hai. Main to kabhi aisi baat soch bhi nahi sakta. Main paise ka lalchi nahi hoon. Paise ke liye main aisa kabhi soch tak nahi sakta, karna to bahut door ki baat hai (My daughter is more precious to me than my own life. I have worked hard to bring her up. I can never think of anything like that. I am not a greedy person. I can't even think of such a thing, let alone do it)," he said.
Asked why such a news report was published if there is no truth behind it, Qureshi insists he hasn't the faintest clue. "Main khud itna hairaan hun ye baat jan kar (I am myself flabbergasted)," he said.
In its report, News of the World stated it had been tipped off about "Rubina's family's sickening intentions by a concerned inhabitant of the squalid slums in the heart of Mumbai at the beginning of March."
Rafiq Qureshi was also quoted as saying that his child had been paid a pittance for her role in Slumdog and that no further financial assistance had come, despite promises from several quarters. He was reportedly keen to use Rubina's newfound star status to pull his family out from a life of impoverishment and squalor.