Prior to the Oscars it was revealed that the two young actors were living in Garib Nagar, a slum in north Mumbai and were paid very little for their roles in the movie. At present Azharuddin lives under a tarpaulin next to a road. His father supported his family on just a £1 a day. He has been unable to work because of his failing health from TB. Rubiana’s family has it slightly better, they share a one-room hut that is next to an open sewer.
“These two children have brought laurels to the country, and we have been told that they live in slums, which cannot even be classified as housing,” said Gautam Chatterjee, head of the state-run Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority.
Danny Boyle, the director of the film, and producer Christian Colso have denied claims that the children were exploited in the making of the film. Instead they say that Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail were paid above local Indian wages. They also contend that the children are now enrolled in school with a fund in place to pay for their education, medical emergencies and other basic living expenses.
The nine children that were featured in the film were at the Academy Awards. Fox Searchlight Pictures paid for their visas, travel and accommodations to California so that they could attend the Oscars.
While the government is getting housing ready the children are enjoying their time in California. Danny Boyle took them to Disney on Monday.
The Daily Mail reports:
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.
‘Their community is very important to them, and they don’t want to move too far away from them.
The children all have a trust fund set up for when they turn 18. But 18 is a long ways off when they live in extreme poverty.
At this time the film’s investors and distributors are setting up a fund for the slum and street children residing in Mumbai. The initial figure is at £500,000 and expected to rise.