July 4, 2009 / 10:36 AM / 11 years ago

"Slumdog" child star moves into new Mumbai home

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A child star of the Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire” moved into his new home in an upmarket Mumbai suburb Saturday, a far cry from his family’s former dwelling — a shanty by the railway tracks.

Azharuddin Ismail (C), who acted as young Salim in Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire", interacts with his relatives after moving into his new house at a residential complex in Mumbai July 4, 2009. The "Jai Ho" trust, named after the film's award-winning track, and set up by Boyle and producer Christian Colson, is meant to pay for the education and basic living costs of Ismail and co-star Rubina Ali until they turn 18. A director for the trust said the apartment for Ismail was "comfortable, in a good neighbourhood (and) near his school" and cost "upwards of 2 million rupees" ($42,000). REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

Azharuddin Ismail, 9, played the youngest Salim in British director Danny Boyle’s rags-to-riches film about a slum dweller trying his luck on a TV gameshow.

His eyes bright and a big smile plastered on his face, Ismail showed off his new home to guests.

“I like it here, it is really nice. But I will miss my old friends back in Bandra. Maybe I will go and visit them once a while,” a grinning Ismail told Reuters as he pranced around the house.

Ismail and his family moved into the 250 square foot (25 sq meter) ground floor flat, which is in a modern building complex, with electricity and running water. It is a short drive away from Juhu, a suburb home to some of India’s most famous film stars.

The Jai Ho Trust, named after the film’s award-winning track and set up by the producers, bought the $42,000 home on Ismail’s behalf and will give it to him when he turns 18.

Ismail’s earlier dwelling, a tarpaulin and sheet hut, was demolished by the civic authorities in May as it was illegal.

Pictures of Ismail and a child co-star picking through the debris of their old homes caused uproar in Mumbai, where more than half its 17-million population is homeless.

“Slumdog Millionaire,” which won eight Academy Awards, has been been criticised for romanticising poverty and life in Mumbai’s teeming slums, and sparked some criticism of the producers that they had exploited the slum dwellers.

“We have lived on the road for so many years. I had never dreamed that we would have a roof over our heads,” Ismail’s mother, Shameem, told Reuters.

The Jai Ho Trust is looking for a house for Ismail’s co-star Rubina Ali, who still lives in a slum with her family. Ismail’s move may present one problem.

Looking at him running around the building with his cousins, a neighbor asked: “Who are these kids? They make so much noise. How will we ever sleep?”

Editing by Matthias Williams and Valerie Lee

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