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Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Slumdog" Star Back In His Shanty Home

CBS - MUMBAI, India, May 16, 2009

No Hollywood ending for one young star. At least, not yet. 

Officials in Mumbai, India bulldozed the shanty home of "Slumdog Millionaire" child star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail Thursday. The ten-year-old and his family moved back into what was left of their home Friday. 

But CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar reports the young star’s family apparently had another option. Azhar went from the bright lights of Hollywood, the excitement of the red carpet and the thrill of the Oscars back to the very gritty reality of his life in Mumbai's slum. 

Eight Academy Awards and $326 million in box office receipts, and lots of promises from "Slumdog" director Danny Boyle - including a trust fund set up for the child actors' education - have done very little to improve the lives of Azhar and the movie's other impoverished child star, Rubina Ali, MacVicar says. 

Azhar watched as local officials demolished the shack his family called home. He told reporters, "I was asleep when the policemen came. He threatened to beat me." 

City officials say they're tearing down illegally-built shanty homes to tackle overcrowding and will re-house residents. 

"We've lived here for at least fifteen years," says Azhar’s mother. "They didn't show us any paperwork. They just came and started demolishing our hut." 

It is, observes MacVicar, real life mirroring "Slumdog"'s cinematic story. Azhar played one of three children left homeless and vulnerable. The Jai Ho Trust set up to help the children of the film says it offered Azhar’s family an apartment last week, but that they turned it down, MacVicar points out. 

For the time being, she adds, the hut has been more or less rebuilt, Azhar and his family are back in it, and nothing else has changed.


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