UPDATE: 'Slumdog' Star Rubina Ali's Father Arrested!
UPDATE: British newspaper The Sun reports that Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali's father, Rafiq Qureshi, was arrested last night on suspicion of trying to sell his nine-year-old, newly famous daughter.
The paper reports that Indian police arrested Qureshi after his ex-wife—and Rubina's mother—Khurshida complained to them.
Khurdisha—who split with Quershi in 2001—tells the paper that she knew about his plans to sell the child two weeks ago, but "I did not believe he would actually go through with it."
Police spent several hours questioning Qureshi last night, and are now trying to obtain recorded evidence of the meeting at which he allegedly tried to sell Rubina to investigators posing as a wealthy Dubai family for approximately $300,000.
UPDATE: Despite the News of the World's claims, Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali's father denies he tried to sell her last week.
Rafiq Qureshi tells the BBC that he did indeed meet with News of the World reporters posing as representatives for a wealthy family from Dubai offering to help out Rubina and her family. But when it became apparent that they were offering to buy his daughter, Qureshi drew the meeting to a quick close.
"They made a call to someone, introducing him as the memsaab's [woman's] husband, the sheikh saab, and asked me to talk to him," Qureshi recalls. "In broken Hindi he thanked me for letting Rubina come to Dubai to live...It was then it occurred to me they were making a deal on my child. I put the phone down and told them we were leaving the hotel."
Qureshi then notes that the supposed representatives came back with an offer of 500,000 rupees "as an advance," which he again rebuffed.
"They played dirty with us, but we didn't accept any money from them," Qureshi asserts. "My daughter is not for sale."
What's the price of fame? Apparently, in the eyes of Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali's father, about $296,000.
British newspaper News of the World claims that Rafiq Qureshi, father to nine-year-old Ali, offered to sell the little actress to a "fake sheik" planted by the paper.
"I have to consider what's best for me, my family and Rubina's future," Qureshi, who lives in the poverty-stricken area of Mumbai, reportedly told the undercover operative. "We've got nothing out of this film."
News of the World claims that its reporters posed as a wealthy family from Dubai. According to the paper, the offer to the undercover reporters wasn't the first one he made.
"They were approached by one wealthy Middle Eastern family who saw their plight in an item on Al Jazeera TV. The couple expressed an interest in adopting young Rubina and her parents' eyes lit up," says the paper's informant. "But the approach has made Rafiq very greedy and he has said that he will consider the highest offer for his child. But they realize that the money will soon stop coming in and Rafiq is open to all offers."
The paper's representative claims to have approached Quershi as a representative of a Dubai family looking to adopt Ali. He says the he was originally quoted a fee of 50,000 British pounds to "for this to happen." However, upon personal contact, the price allegedly jumped to 200,000 British pounds.
Justifying the inflated price tag, Qureshi's brother, Mohiuddin, supposedly declared, "The child is special now. This is NOT an ordinary child. This is an Oscar child!"
Slumdog Millionaire, in which Ali had starred as youngest Latika, won an Oscar for best picture, along with seven other Academy Awards.
Last week, it was announced that the producers of the film will be donating $742,000 to help the children of Mumbai, and have set up a separate trust to provide for Ali and costar Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail's healthcare and education.