I've wondered a lot about the child stars from the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire. A week ago Sunday, Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali were lauded by glamorous Hollywood. Three days later, they returned to their homes in the slums of Mumbai.
Azharuddin, according to CNN, sleeps under a plastic sheet in a shantytown. Rubina stays with her family in a tiny shack next to an open drain.
One moment they were twirling through rides in a land of milk and honey and Disney. The next second they were welcomed as heroes in a community of shacks and hunger and poverty. One instant they were whiffing ice cream and celebrity perfume; the next was cow dung and urine. One second they paraded down the red carpet. The next time they ran through the dirt path, stumbling over raw sewage and trash and neighbor children.
The contrast is almost too much for the human heart to bear.
The film's producers have vowed to put together an educational package for Azharuddin and Rubina to guarantee them schooling, as well as a sum of money upon completion of their schooling at age 18.
Azharuddin's mother has heard rumors that the Indian government will provide her with a new home as a result of her son's new-found fame. Those plans are unconfirmed. "I've been praying for a new home for awhile now," she said. "It's all up to Allah now. "