For over a year, there have been sporadic reports about the status of the young stars of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. First came rumors that Rubina Ali's dad was trying to sell her. Then news that Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Ali's houses were demolished. Then news that jetsetting and stardom were keeping the kids out of school, which could stop the stipend they get for their work on Slumdog. Finally, so-so news that Ali and Ismail continue to earn money even though they live in shantys due to "legalities."

After all of this turmoil, which is still on-going, director Danny Boyle has admitted that his young stars from the slums were exploited.

WENN reports that in a conversation with Britain's Sunday Times, Boyle discussed how efforts to look after Rubina and Azharuddin are "ongoing," and then fielded a question about whether he thinks he's exploited the kids. Boyle responded:
Yes. But you exploit everyone in a film and I think we've been responsible. We set up a lot for them before any fuss started. We put them into school and set in place a trust that will look after them until they are 17. When the film became a huge hit, we got money from the profits to buy houses. Rubina has still not moved into the property, but the process is ongoing.* I saw them the last time I was there.
Talk about an opportunity wasted. "Everyone gets exploited" is not much of an argument, and the discussion would have been an excellent way to not only discuss the ongoing efforts to help the kids, but also open up a discourse about how everyday people -- especially children -- fit into the Hollywood system. What we need now is directors, especially ones like Boyle who have faced these challenges, to draw the line between exploitation and entertainment, and at the very least, admit that more consideration should be given in these situations.

But why bother? Everyone gets exploited, right?


*A recent report says Rubina might finally move into an apartment if deals work out. The process was elongated as her father, understandably, wasn't willing to relocate to another city.