'Slumdog' makers donate to child development

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MUMBAI -- The makers of the Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire" said on Thursday they were donating 500,000 pounds ($750,000) to a non-profit organization in India focused on child development.

The donation to Plan India will support a program in a slum in central Mumbai, the city where the film was largely shot, to fund the childcare, education, health, water and sanitation needs of about 2,000 families, a statement said.

The film, a rags-to-riches romance about a poor Indian boy competing on a TV game show, scooped eight Academy Awards earlier this year but caused controversy in parts of India.

The cast and crew became associated with the charity when actor Anil Kapoor, who plays a quizmaster in the film, donated his fee to the organization, the statement said.

"The film's success is an inspiration and a way forward to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children of Mumbai," said Kapoor, who is also a goodwill ambassador for Plan India.

The donation will benefit about 5,000 children, according to producer Christian Colson and director Danny Boyle, who have in the past rejected accusations they exploited and underpaid children in the movie.

The film's title raised an outcry and sparked protests in parts of India, because "Slumdog" was seen as derogatory to India's millions of slum dwellers.

Boyle and Colson have said the film's two main child stars were paid above the local wage and enrolled in English-medium schools for the first time with a fund set up to pay for their education, medical emergencies and basic living costs.

The "Jai Ho" trust, named after the film's award-winning track, is being overseen by a board of trustees until the pair from the slums, Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail, turn 18.

"Having benefited so much from the hospitality of the people of Mumbai, it is only right that some of the success be put back into the city in areas where it is needed most and where it can make a real difference to children's lives," Boyle said in the statement on Thursday.
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