I don’t think i need to introduce the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” to you. Few Oscars awards to it’s name, this movie has been super hit across the globe. I personally believe that’s not entirely true. People here in India do not find the movie too great that it could win an Oscar. A slumdog guy making into riches is not a unique concept. There are hundreds of movies in Bollywood that goes on the same concept and many of them actually are better and much more popular than Slumdog Millionaire. However, I do agree that the innovative idea wherein a guy becomes a millionaire via an actual reality TV show was a new concept, but that does not make it a great movie. I think the Americans and Britishers were overwhelmed with the slums and poverty shown in the movie, which is not a rare sight in India, so that bring in the differences between my opinion and those who think it was worthy of an Oscar. Still, i do not want to take any credits from it. It was a good movie and am proud of it that it won Oscars making it the first Indian movie to get such prestigious award.
This however is not the reason i wrote this post. The title of this post, most probably gave you a different picture in mind and that’s what this post is about. If i mention the name, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, that probably won’t ring in your minds. He was one of the child actors that acted in the movie. Probably the picture beside this post will give you a clear indication of who he really is.
Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail’s life never took a drastic change after the megahit Slumdog Millionaire made million bucks at box office. There is a reason why i am saying this and i will explain it a bit later. Anyways, the little guy lives in a city called “Garibnagar” (City of poor) in Mumbai, India. Yesterday, May14th 2009, a terrible thing happened. Azharuddin Ismail lost his home as it was demolished and turned into pile of debris by the Indian municipal authorities. According to the authorities, his home, among 20 other homes were illegally built, so they had to demolish it anyhow. I was just reading this news at CNN.com and a senior inspector of the authority named Rahim Sheikh, who is also in charge of the locality, told the CNN, that “The shanties were brought down as part of a municipal drive to clear encroachments on public land. Bulldozers leveled the slum built on a municipal garden”. So we now have a reason why this step was taken. I am not sure what to say here. It can be said that “Indian rules stand equal for everyone” whether poor man or celebrity which we all know is not true. We all know that Indian rules although laid strictly, but are flexible and corrupted in reality.
Anyways, what may bring tear to your eyes is when you see Azharuddin Ismail sitting between the debris and twisted metal, surrounded by filth on all sides and tears running down his cheeks. It’s little hard to believe specially for a buy who achieved such a success so very recently. According to Ismail, they got no notice for the demolition in advance and they weren’t even allowed anytime to remove their belongings from the house. It’s sad how things go around in India specially with the poor. Ismail family however were strong enough and said that they will return back and they do plan to rebuild the house. I would suggest that you do rebuild your house but take care of the encroachment laws this time around.
I managed to get hold of the video where in Ismail talks about how he feels on the same issue. He cried a lot and of course he expects little respects for his celebrity status which he was denied by the Mumbai authorities. Here is the video courtesy the Associated Press!
I did mentioned before about how his life never took a drastic turn. Ismail’s father is a bit cruel, so to speak. He was photographed beating his son after Ismail begged to rest his jet lagged body after reaching home from Oscars ceremonies in Los Angeles. His father has been trying repeatedly to fish out more money from Danny Boyle (Director of Slumdog Millionaire). It is believed that Ismail was paid $1000 USD (Rs. 50,000 INR approx.) during the filming of the movie. Danny was smart enough to put an amount near about $25,000 USD ( Rs. 12.5 Lacs INR approx.) in a trust which will be accessible by Ismail when he turns 18. Apart from that he pays $30 (Rs 1500) a week to 10 year old Ismail as allowance. Now imagine how this could change the life of a real slumdog kid. But thanks to his father, Ismail will only get money when he turns 18. So no drastic change as on now!
Anyways, i heard Danny Boyle initially offered them a house out of slums worth $30,000 USD. I hope this is the right time for that commitment to come into action. We surely hope the slumdog kid strike some peace in real life too.