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    Slumdog Millionaire Kid Star Put Up for Sale by Father?

    Freida Pinto, Rubina Ali Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    UPDATE: Rafiq Qureshi has flatly denied that he attempted to sell his Oscar-caliber daughter, saying he was the victim of a "dirty" undercover operation by a U.K. tabloid and that the media had used his family's economic status as a punch line and "made fun of our poverty."

    "They tricked us into this fakery, but we came out unscathed," he told the BBC, adding that they trapped him in a situation of "great temptation" which he managed to resist.

    Qureshi said that he received a phone call from people claiming to be a wealthy Arab couple who wanted to help his daugher, Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali. After several meetings, Qureshi became aware that "they were making a deal on my child."

    He refused, but returned home to find reports of his dealmaking on TV.

    "They played dirty with us, but we didn't accept any money from them. My daughter is not for sale."

    ————————

    In an attempt to escape the real-life slums of Mumbai, the father of Slumdog Millionaire sweetie Rubina Ali reportedly tried to illegally sell his 9-year-old daughter for roughly $300,000.

    Mumbai police brought both the girl and her father, Rafiq Qureshi, in for questioning Sunday night after Qureshi unknowingly spoke to the British tabloid News of the World and offered several shocking allegations as to why cashing in on his daughter's fame was perfectly acceptable.

    "On Sunday, Rubina's mother Khurshid complained to us that her ex-husband was trying to sell her daughter, saying she saw some reports on television to that effect," Deputy Commissioner of Police Nisar Tamboli told Reuters.

    Police called Ali, who stars as Slumdog's youngest Latika, and her father, with whom she lives, to the station last night and recorded statements from each.

    "We've got nothing out of [Slumdog Millionaire]," Qureshi told the News of the World during the tabloid's sting. "They gave some money at the start, but they gave nothing afterwards. They gave us around 150,000 rupees [$3,000]. I have to consider what's best for me, my family and Rubina's future."

    But his allegations run counter to statements from filmmakers and local officials.

    The Oscar-winning film's producer, Christian Colson, told Britain's Daily Mail last night that, for their part, the filmmakers are doing everything they can to get to the truth of what happened to Ali.

    "We have friends and colleagues in Bombay who are trying to speak with Mr. Qureshi to get to the bottom of what happened," he said. "Her family is under a lot of pressure."

    Just days ago, director Danny Boyle & Co. donated $750,000 to a Mumbai children's charity on top of an additional $750,000 for the education and housing of both Ali and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, the youngest Salim.

    Both Boyle and Colson are planning to visit the young stars next month.

    "Danny and I are committed to Rubina and Azharuddin for the long term," he said. "We are trying to keep a roof over their heads, and keep them in school until they are 18. The problem is there are a lot of parties who are telling the parents different things.

    "We agreed to buy apartments a couple of months ago, but that process stalled because they decided they wanted the money up front instead. In the past few days we have got things back on track, and are now back looking at apartments."

    Meanwhile, Indian authorities also promised to provide homes in Mumbai following the massive success of Slumdog Millionaire at this year's Oscars.

    It has yet to comment on the allegations.

    (Originally published on April 19, 2009, at 4:12 p.m. PT)


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