"Slumdog" makers buy flat for homeless child star

Wed May 27, 2009 10:07am EDT
 
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Once under fire for not doing enough for its impoverished Indian child stars, the makers of "Slumdog Millionaire" said Wednesday they had bought a flat for one of them whose Mumbai shanty home had been demolished.

Director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson flew into Mumbai after pictures of Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali picking through the debris of their homes -- torn down by the civic authorities as illegal -- were splashed in the media.

Smiling and hugging the children, Boyle said a home had been bought for Ismail, 9, who played the character of Salim as a child. He added they would soon buy one for Ali as well, who plays the young Latika.

Boyle, who came under fire for not doing enough for the children who lived in squalor despite the film's success, blamed the media for raising the families' expectations.

"Inevitably, the tension and pressure is media generated," he said, after greeting Ali and Ismail with a hug.

"They were given access to a world, an extraordinary and glamorous world, and they understandably want their lives to be completely transformed," said Boyle.

"The homes are a concern. That is one of the reasons why we built the trust," he said.

The "Jai Ho" trust, named after the film's award-winning track, and set up by Boyle and Colson, is meant to pay for the education and basic living costs of Ismail and Ali until they turn 18.   Continued...