Theatre & Cinema
Slumdog Millionaire’s ‘Latika’ rises to the stars
Posted Saturday, June 9 2012 at 07:53
Book Review. Being born in the deepest poverty did not stop this young actress from dreaming big. When the opportunity presented itself, she was more than ready, as she tells her story.
I used to dream of being an actress, a Bollywood star, but I could never have imagined my dream would come true so soon. If a slum kid can win an Oscar, then a slumdog can surely become a millionaire,” Rubina Ali writes in her book Slumgirl Dreaming, a tale of her journey from a mere slum girl to a movie star.
You will recognise Rubina as Latika, the girl who starred in the Oscar winner, Slumdog Millionaire.
Turning one page after another, you can hear an innocent girl sharing her story, one so true that it takes you from the slums to the movie sets, to the Oscars and back to a place that’s not a slum anymore all thanks to Slumdog Millionaire fame.
Since the film became a multi-million-dollar hit, Rubina’s shanty home has been razed by officials. She and her family have been re-housed.
Brand new shoes
Her life too changed as a result. “We both have brand new shoes that look nice on the clean ground. We’ve just picked up our suitcases. We’ve come off the plane from Los Angeles after Slumdog Millionaire picked up eight Oscars. Thursday 26 February is my return from my first ever international trip to America,” 13-year-old Rubina recounts in the book.
She writes in first person with a simple writing style that will also keep her peers reading on and on. Rubina is dramatic and emotive, which is revealed in her dialogue with different people.
“My father couldn’t accompany me to America, but I know he’s outside waiting for me and he will take me home. Now I’m anxious to see everyone again: my grandmother, my big sister and my little brother. But I missed my father the most,” she recollects.
One of the strongest scenes from Slumdog Millionaire was where slum children are trying hard to get close to a movie star that has visited the neighbourhood. A boy takes a dive into human waste and when he begins making his way to the star everyone is making way for him.
Rubina writes that this was not actually what we thought it was. “You should have seen them getting the mixture ready on set. The assistants poured kilos of chocolate into a big pot, with butter and mint then mixed it all up for hours over a low heat. The whole studio has this sweet, yummy chocolatey smell and I just wanted to jump right in and eat the whole lot,” she pens.
For a girl raised in the slum, she makes comparison between two worlds, the one she just been exposed to and the one in the slum where she ate the fruit flavour sweets and chocolate candies.
“This mixture looked and smelled so nice I couldn’t help but stare at it and hang around next to the pot. It was making my mouth water!” she recalls.
“In the end Danny said, ‘Good, that’s great!’ Ayush was relived. He started licking himself like a little cat. He offered us some, but…eugh! That’s my funniest memory from the shoot,” she adds.
Television, as Rubina confesses, is the best thing that ever happened to her and to the people in the slums. “I’ve been glued to this box for as long as I remember” she writes.
But television has its place in the slum. “The slums are addicted to saas-bahu soaps, which are all about mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationships. I know women who plan their whole day according to the time of their favourite soap,” the young actress adds.
Her recollection of the award night is impressive. ‘And the winner is….Slumdog Millionaire!’ “We all screamed at the same time. Everyone started to hug each other and then Danny stood up to go on stage and the entire film team followed him. The crowd was cheering us and the clapping didn’t stop,” Rubina writes.