Poor school attendance is jeopardizing the trust established for the young actors

By People Staff
Updated November 06, 2009 01:45 PM
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Credit: Gautam Singh/AP

Following recent reports that the Jai Ho Trust – established by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle for two of the movie’s child actors, Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali – was the subject of controversy when the kids’ families reportedly wanted more money, Boyle tells PEOPLE that the real issue centers on the young stars spending more time in school.

“We were in Mumbai last week and we were very clear that the attendance of the kids at school was not good enough,” the Oscar-winning director said at the BAFTA/LA Brittania Awards, where he received John Schlesinger Britannia Award for Artistic Excellence in Directing. “They’ve had a lot of distractions.”

During his visit Boyle says he insisted that “unless school attendance improves, then everything else is jeopardized, because that was the whole starting point of the way the film could benefit the kids.”

Boyle said the whole point of the child stars’ trust is to “set them up so that they wouldn’t feel like prisoners within their economic cycle which wasn’t very helpful to them, that they would have a bit of an ability to step out and make some decisions about their own life and to back it with a bit of cash and a nice education and a place to live, things like that.”
Scott Huver