Azharuddin Ismail, the boy who played young Salim in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, has sold off the flat which he was given by the Jai Ho Trust, and moved into a 10 x 10 feet room. The 10-year-old Salim had attended the Academy Awards for 2008 and had rubbed shoulders with the who’s who of Hollywood in 2009. The film had won eight Oscars, including for the Best Picture. The same year, Azhar, who used to live in the Garib Nagar slums at Bandra in Bombay, and his co-star, Rubina, were given flats by the Jai Ho Trust, named after the A.R. Rahman chartbuster from the film.
Six months back, Azhar, who is now 21 years old, sold the 250-sq.-ft. flat he was given in Anurag Plaza building at Santacruz West, for Rs. 49 lakh and went back to living in a slum at Naupada, Bandra East, very close to his earlier slum, where Boyle first spotted him. He is currently in his village (Jalna in Maharashtra) where his mother took him a couple of months back due to his ill-health. He said, he sold the flat as the family was facing financial troubles.
Danny Boyle and the film’s producer, Christian Colson, had formed the Jai Ho Charitable Trust to provide a better life and education to child stars Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubina Ali Qureshi, both of who lived in the Garib Nagar slums when they were signed for the roles. Azhar shifted into the new flat with his mother in 2009. The flat was in the custody of the Trust but was transferred in Azhar’s name after he turned 18. The Jai Ho Trust used to pay Azhar Rs. 9,000 per month which was stopped once he turned 18. Azhar fell into bad company and started doing drugs. Not having studied, he started a business which did not run. Azhar’s mother revealed that she had spent a great deal of money on Azhar’s treatment and they were left with no option but to sell the gifted house to deal with the situation. The one-film actor and his mother now live in a 10 x 10 feet room in a three-storey structure which they share with five more people viz. Azhar’s sister, her husband and their three children.
Meanwhile, Rubina Ali Qureshi, who played Latika in the film, also moved out of the house which she was gifted by the Jai Ho Trust, but she hasn’t sold it. Her ailing father and his second wife live in the flat with their children. The 20-year-old Rubina has moved with her mother to Nala Sopara, a distant Bombay suburb. She studies in first year B.A. and is also studying fashion designing and doing a make-up course. Besides, she works part-time at a make-up studio. Rubina said, although the Jai Ho Trust had closed down, the trust people were still in touch with her and kept helping her in whatever way they could.