Monday, April 20th 2009
The father of adorable "Slumdog Millionaire" star Rubina Ali is refuting an undercover report that he tried to sell his 9-year-old daughter.
The story, published by Britain's News of the World newspaper, is a "lie made up by foreign journalists playing games with me," cash-strapped dad Rafiq Qureshi tells People magazine.
Qureshi, who lives in a Mumbai slum along with his star daughter, offered to sell Ali for nearly $300,000 to undercover reporters, the paper says. News of the World also published a photo of their journalists meeting with the family while disguised as a wealthy couple from Dubai.
Qureshi was reportedly fielding several lucrative adoption offers for the starlet.
Ali's dad allegedly upped his asking adoption price for his apple-cheeked little girl during the negotiations because of Ali's star status.
"The child is special now," Qureshi's brother said, per the paper. "This is an Oscar child!"
Qureshi now acknowledges he received an offer to adopt Ali but says he pretended to be interested in an effort to be polite.
"In India, you never say 'no' directly, least of all to guests," he said. "You try not to offend people by refusing to help. They said they were childless and desperately fond of Rubina after seeing her in the film. I felt sorry for them, but I was never going to give her up."
Ali echoed her father's statements, saying, "I trust my father. He loves me. He has never said that he wants to give me up. I did meet an uncle and auntie in a big hotel but it was not about adoption. I will never give any foreign journalist an interview again." The child actress and her father were spotted at a police station in Mumbai on Monday where both were interrogated about the incident.Ali rose to fame earlier this year as the young Latika in "Slumdog." Break-out star Freida Pinto played the grown-up version of Latika.
Despite the stardom, Ali's father reportedly said the family "got nothing out of this film," although director Danny Boyle has set up apartments for Ali and fellow "Slumdog" child star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and their families, which will be available soon.
Boyle has also set up a trust fund for Ali for her education.