Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson recently told the press that their youngest and poorest stars, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubina Ali, will be moved into apartments worth about $29,000. With their families. Not with each other, that would be weird. Well, probably not as weird in India. I imagine.
Colson and Boyle told the Daily Mail the children and their families are looking at new apartments on the edge of the area where they live. Boyle told the Daily Mail: ‘These are bricks and mortar flats. They will have electricity, running water and good sanitation. They will still be close to their friends and extended family.’
The film company has also agreed to pay for a rickshaw driver to take the children to and from school every day for the next eight years – to ensure they attend.
“It was always my dream to force a poor toothless beggar to sew my soccer balls,” I imagined Ismail saying.
And in an astonishing turn of events, officials from the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority – a Mumbai housing association – have now also said they want to gift the children a new flat each.
The organisation’s chairman, Amarjeet Singh Manhas, said: ‘These children have made the country proud and have an equal hand in the film winning the Oscar [Editor's note: No they didn't.] These children are special and have won laurels for the country and we want to felicitate them.’
They were unable to give details on the size and location of the flats and critics accused the authority of offering the free flats as a political move ahead of the general election in April/May.
Azharuddin, who plays the young version of the lead character’s brother Salim, and his parents live in flimsy structure made of tarpaulins and blankets in the overcrowded Behrampada shanty area.
The family is worse off now than when Slumdog Millionaire was being filmed because the illegal hut they were living in has been demolished by the local council.
Colson told the Daily Mail: ‘The way Azharuddin is living now is substandard. We were told his home was razed a few months ago, and wired money over immediately. The family gave that money to a broker, who promised to find them a new place to live, but has simply disappeared with the cash. We realized just sending money is not the answer and have evolved our plans over the past few weeks. The families are not equipped to cope with that sort of money.’
Producers will instead put the properties in a trust and ownership will only be released to the parents when the children turn 18.
‘We can’t buy the properties outright and give them to them, because in all honesty they will sell them,’ he said. ‘What we are doing is to acquire the flats for them, near the community where they fit in.’ [via DailyMail]
Gosh, I guess living in a third world shanty town isn’t all popcorn and handjobs like I thought, huh? But you know, if the movie taught me anything, it’s that it’s not money or education these kids need, it’s love. Cloying, poorly written, unrealistic love.