MUMBAI City workers demolishing part of a Mumbai slum on Thursday bulldozed the home of a Slumdog Millionaire child star.
Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail was asleep in his shanty when a police officer woke him up and told him to leave, he said. Shortly after that, about 30 homes were destroyed.
“A police officer took a bamboo stick to hit me and I was frightened,” said 10-year-old Azhar.
Eight Oscars and $326-million (U.S.) in box office receipts have so far done little to improve the lives of the film's two impoverished child stars, Azhar and Rubina Ali.
They have been showered with gifts and brief bursts of fame, but their day-to-day lives are little changed.
Thursday morning, city workers flanked by policemen arrived as part of a slum demolition drive — common in India's crowded chaotic cities.
“They didn't give prior notice. We didn't even get a chance to take out our belongings,” said Shameem Ismail, Azhar's mother, who has lived in the shanty town for more than 15 years. She has no legal right to the land.
“I don't know what I am going to do,” she said, sitting on a bed she had dragged from the wreckage. Next to her was a plastic bag stuffed with belongings.
Slumdog filmmakers say they've done their best to help. They set up a trust, called Jai Ho, after the hit song from the film, to ensure the children get proper homes, a good education and a nest egg when they finish high school. They also donated $747,500 to a charity to help slum kids in Mumbai.
Producer Christian Colson has described the trust as substantial, but won't tell anyone how much — not even the parents — for fear of making the children vulnerable to exploitation.