[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/20/slumdog.cast.getty.art.jpg caption="The cast of 'Slumdog Millionaire,' lead actor Dev Patel (L), Freida Pinto (C), Anil Kapoor (R), Irrfan Khan (2nd R), and Madhur Mittal (2nd L) arrive at the 81st Academy Awards on February 22, 2009."]
By Vinita Singla, CNN
When I read yesterday that the "Slumdog Millionaire” team had donated money to impoverished kids in India, I was thrilled. I had been a part of it.
Trendy white leather sectionals, crystal chandeliers dangling from the high ceilings, beautiful lit candles and best of all the energy that exuded from the cast and crew of “Slumdog Millionaire.” Those are just some of my memories from the amazing Jan. 21 Plan charity event I attended in New Delhi. It was at an exquisite restaurant with a sprawling lounge area and a trendy top shelf bar. Ironically, the event took place two days before "Slumdog Millionaire" premiered in Mumbai.
I had been looking forward to the bash as soon as I heard about it. The thought of seeing Director Danny Boyle and Frieda Pinto in person was exciting especially because “Slumdog Millionaire” was the new craze in our American Morning newsroom. Even at 4 a.m., Executive Producer Janelle Rodriguez and co-anchor John Roberts didn’t hesitate to declare their love for the movie. “Oscar!”: Rodriguez called it.
It was a strange feeling being in India knowing I had already seen the romantic flick in NY and yet it was just being released where it was shot, in Hindustan. I was a little surprised that even some of my family members who lived in India, only heard about Danny Boyle’s award-winning sensation after receiving invitations from Plan. They didn’t really seem to realize the significance of the affair. They definitely were not as stoked as I was.
Though my biggest shock came on Jan. 23 when I read in The Times of India that the film’s title and imagery had stirred protests across Bharat. I didn’t expect that some Indians, including both the rich and the impoverished, would take the movie so personally. The name of the movie offended some slum dwellers. Don’t call us dogs, they said. Others, specifically the wealthy, were offended because they said that India, in its entirety, was not a slum. Some Hindus even rallied to get Slumdog censored. They said they felt denigrated because Lord Sree Ram was shown giving a blessing with his left hand instead of his right hand. They also felt they were wrongly shown attacking the Muslims in the scene in which Jamal’s mother was killed.
Protests aside, the Plan shindig was a success. Anil Kapoor led the auction that evening personally and later personally asked people to donate to Plan. Celebrities, including fashion designers, writers and producers, were quick to cast their bids. Freida Pinto modeled a beautiful diamond ring. Co-director Loveleen Tandan held up a painting. I remember Danny Boyle and Dev Patel, with his now famous grin, cheering on, while standing on the stage that was about three feet from me. My family went home with two paintings. I felt honored to be a part of the celebration which was for such an important cause.
So, I was ecstatic to hear that yesterday Plan received $747,500 from the makers of "Slumdog."