Indian authorities are moving the youngsters from Mumbai slums to new residences

By Stephen M. Silverman
February 25, 2009 08:35 AM
Arko Datta/Reuters/Landov

They’ve been to the Oscars, they’ve been to Disneyland, and now the two main child actors from the Oscar-laden Slumdog Millionaire are heading to brand new homes.

Indian government authorities are providing new residences in Mumbai for Rubina Ali and Azhar Ismail, who portrayed the younger versions of the movie’s central characters, Latika and Jamal, Reuters reports.

“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.

There have been protests in some quarters over the fact that the while the movie was earning millions around the world – nearly $100 million in North America alone – its young actors were living in squalor.

The movie’s Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson have denied claims that children were exploited to make their movie – saying that the youngsters were paid above local Indian wages.

The children, say the filmmakers, were also enrolled in school for the first time with a fund established to provide for their education, medical emergencies and “basic living costs.”

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