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Rubina Ali at 2009's Oscars

Rubina Ali at 2009’s Oscars

When we rely on the mercy of people rather than institutions,  we often find solace. I was thinking about this in the wake of this year’s Oscars.

Remember the girl who starred as Little Lakita in Slumdog Millionaire ?  Her name is Rubina Ali and she has  an indelible face and innate charm.  Rubina was from the slums of Mumbai,  India. For a month in 2008, she was whisked out of that poverty into the land of lights and three-hot-meals-a-day  to play a co-starring role in director Danny Boyle’s movie.

In the spring of 2009, Rubina strode down  the  Hollywood red carpet and even received her very own statuette from the Screen Actors Guild when the film won best ensemble.

After the gold, of which Slumdog Millionaire won plenty, including Best Picture, Rubina  returned to the poverty of her life. But Danny Boyle must have been prescient. He sensed something dark around  Rubina and those children. He started a trust fund for the young  Slumdog  actors from some of the proceeds from the movie which would be available to each of them when they became 18.

Soon after she returned from the Oscars, Rubina’s father put her up for sale.

Bids were reported as high as $425,000. US dollars. “This was no ordinary girl.” said her father.  “This was an Oscar girl.”  A press sting uncovered the father’s  unlawful actions. Public outcry was huge. The father went to jail….for awhile.

Rubina Ali even “co wrote” a book at the age of 12. It’s available on Amazon. But she never received a copy of it. One wonders if she ever got paid.

In 2011,  her dress and her Screen Actors Award were lost in the fire that destroyed the shanty  in which she lived.

But this story has a happy ending.  Because of the trust fund that Danny Boyle started, the family received a new house. Those close to the situation say that the trust fund would not have happened without Danny’s insistence.

Sometimes you just have to love  those “movie people”.  Many of them never make a fuss with the charity and mercy they have in their hearts. They simply do what institutions often overlook.

The world is tough. We have to rise like light above it.