No Class, No Cash: “Slumdog” Kids Miss School

MUMBAI, India – The slum kid stars of “Slumdog Millionaire” want a lot of NFL jerseys things in life —
new houses, a car, trips to London and Paris — but they aren’t too interested in school.

Ten-year-old Rubina Ali has missed nearly 75 percent of her classes and her co-star hasn’t done
much better — truancy that filmmakers say will jeopardize their trust funds and monthly
stipends if it continues.

Their parents blame the absences on deaths in the family or other misfortunes, including the
demolition of Rubina’s shanty by city authorities earlier this year, and have promised to do

But the filmmakers say the children are being lured away by endorsement deals, television
appearances and other opportunities to cash in on their celebrity — at the risk of losing the
money set aside for them once they graduate.

“Our love got a little bit tougher today,” “Slumdog” Rolex watches producer Christian
Colson told The Associated Press Thursday.

“We understand there are opportunities for both kids — and for the parents of both children
— to cash in, in the short term, on their celebrity. We don’t have a problem with that. But if
they want to benefit from the trust, they have to get those attendance rates up.”

Beneath the debate about school is a deeper tug-of-war between the impoverished families’ urge
for as much short-term gain as possible and the filmmakers’ desire to endow the children with a
secure future.

Rubina and 11-year-old Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail both grew up in one of Mumbai’s most wretched
slums. They shot to fame after starring in the rags-to-riches blockbuster, which won eight Oscars.
Rubina was cast as the young Latika, who grows up to become the hero’s love interest, and Azhar
plays his brother, Salim.

After filming ended, director Danny Boyle and Colson got the ugg boots pair placed in a Mumbai school
that helps disadvantaged children. But these days, Azhar is showing up to class just 37 percent of
the time and Rubina’s attendance is only 27 percent, said Noshir Dadrawala, an administrator of the

“It’s pathetic,” said Dadrawala, adding that a flurry of awards ceremonies, festivals and fashion
shows that have taken the kids to Paris, Madras and elsewhere are detracting from their

These have included Rubina’s Paris trip to promote a book about her life, “Slumgirl Dreaming: My
Journey to the Stars,” as well as a tea party at Westminster in London, a dance number on a Hong
Kong TV show and, of course, a trip to Los Angeles for the Oscars.

“They are constantly going … That’s fine, but go over the weekend, not at the sacrifice of
school,” Dadrawala said. The parents were told Thursday that if the children do Carolina Panthers
jerseys not get their attendance above 70 percent they would lose their monthly $120 stipend.
And if the kids fail to graduate,

they will forfeit the lump sum payment set aside to help them get a start in life, Dadrawala

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