Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Slumdog Millionaire child stars on ramp

Two child stars from the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire may lose their monthly allowance unless they improve their school attendance, a report said on Monday.

Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali—who played younger versions of the main characters in the rags-to-riches blockbuster—have been told to stop skipping class in Mumbai or forfeit a $120 per month payment, NDTV news reported.

The money comes from the Jai Ho Trust, which was established by the movie's British director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson to manage the children's interests.

Nirja Matoo, one of the trustees, told PTI that a social worker had informed her that the children, who grew up in the slums where the film was set, were missing class.

"As an attempt to pressure the families to send the kids to school, we have told them that the monthly allowance will be discontinued if the attendance does not improve," the news agency quoted Matoo as saying.

When asked about his truancy by NDTV, Ismail, 11, said "My father died and I had to go through the rituals so I couldn't attend."

Ismail's father died in September after a lengthy battle with tuberculosis. Ali, 10, gave a similar excuse, telling the network "I had hurt my foot with a glass shard and got burnt with a cracker. So I was not going to school."

Ali's father Rafiq defended her, saying "I know what is best for Rubina. They called us and said they will stop helping us. I told them ‘God will take care of us’."

The trust has set up a fund for the children, to be accessed after they graduate, and also gave them new apartments after their makeshift homes were torn down as part of Mumbai's slum clearance drive.

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