'Slumdog' filmmakers meet poor kid stars

May 27, 2009 6:38:39 AM PDT
The makers of "Slumdog Millionaire" met with the film's two impoverished child stars Wednesday in Mumbai, but the father of one of the children stormed out of the meeting, saying they have been forgotten since the movie won eight Oscars. Rubina Ali, 9, and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, both lost their homes this month as city authorities cleared out parts of the slum where they live.

Rubina has been staying with relatives and Azhar has been living in a makeshift shanty of tarps and blankets with his parents.

"We've been trying for a long time to move them into legal accommodation," director Danny Boyle told reporters at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences on the outskirts of Mumbai, where he and producer Christian Colson met the children and their families.

Boyle also said he plans to make two more films set in Mumbai.

But Rafiq Qureshi, Rubina's father, said Boyle has not done enough.

"It has been five to six months," Qureshi said in an interview after he cut the meeting short in anger. "Everything is available in Mumbai if you have the money. If you really want to get us a house you can get us a house in two days."

"After the Oscars they forgot about us," he added.

Relations between the filmmakers and the children's families have grown tense since the phenomenal success of the film, which grossed more than $326 million.

The filmmakers set up a trust aimed at ensuring the children get proper homes, a decent education and a nest egg when they finish high school. They have pledged to spend up to $100,000 to buy the two families new apartments and donated $747,500 to a charity to help slum children across Mumbai.

Nirja Mattoo, who helps oversee the children's trust, said a new home for Azhar's family has almost been secured and that the hunt for Rubina's continues.

"We're trying our best to get it as soon as possible," she said by phone. She declined to comment on Qureshi's behavior at the meeting.

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Additional reporting by Gautam Singh and Rajanish Kakade in Mumbai.


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