'Slumdog' child star gets new home

June 10, 2009 8:41:21 AM PDT
Both children lost their homes last month when authorities demolished parts of their slum. The purchase of a 250-square-foot (23-square-meter) one-bedroom apartment for the family of Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, was completed Monday, said Nirja Mattoo, who helps oversee the Jai Ho trust set up by the filmmakers to help Azharuddin and his 9-year-old co-star Rubina Ali.

"They can move in," Mattoo told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I'm just waiting for their consent."

Ownership of the tiny apartment, which cost about 2.5 million rupees ($50,000), will be transferred from the trust to Azharuddin when he turns 18, provided he completes school, Mattoo said.

"He has to complete an education. We are very clear about that," she said. She declined to say what would happen to the property if he does not finish school.

The apartment is located in Santa Cruz West, a suburb of Mumbai just north of the slum where the two children now live.

Mattoo said the trust is actively looking for a new home for Rubina.

The government has also started the process of giving both children apartments, and the family of Azharuddin - known as Azhar - hopes to get both, his mother said.

"After Azhar is grown up, he can stay in one," said Shameem Ismail. "Me and my husband can stay in the other. Both houses are small."

On Tuesday, Azhar's family toured the apartment the government has offered them in Malvani, on the northern outskirts of Mumbai.

Ismail described the flat as "small but good."

"The only problem is it's far away from Azhar's school," she said.

Azhar said he likes both houses.

"I'll take my friends to visit," he said, squatting with two friends in front of his shanty roasting jackfruit seeds in a fire built from old newspapers and sticks.

The boys said they'd miss him.


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