'Slumdog' child star's home demolished

Second actor loses home to urban renewal

MUMBAI -- The shanty home of another "Slumdog Millionaire" child star was torn down by Mumbai authorities Wednesday as they demolished part of a city slum where she lived.

Munni Qureshi — the stepmother of 9-year-old Rubina Ali, who portrayed a young Latika, the Oscar-winning film's heroine — said her husband was beaten by police who were supervising the demolition. She said he was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

"How can the police barge in any time without giving us notice," Qureshi said, as she wept holding her forehead. Neighbors poured water over her to keep her cool as she sat in the scorching summer sun with Rubina.

"Slumdog Millionaire" won eight Oscars and brought in more than $326 million, but it has done little so far to improve the lives of the film's two impoverished child stars, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubina.

Dozens of police with bamboo batons walked around the alley where Rubina's house is located and supervised demolition crews of young men wielding sledgehammers and metal rods who tore down the shanty homes.

Last week, bulldozers demolished Azhar's home in a similar cleanup drive in a different part of the same slum. By Wednesday temporary homes had already sprung up in the area. His family tied blankets and sheets of blue and yellow tarpaulin to a wooden frame to create a shelter.

Slums destroyed because they are illegal or in the way of city development plans often resurface. Government promises of housing are not often met and when slum-dwellers are given homes, it is often in poor-quality buildings on the outskirts of cities, far from their jobs.

Rubina and Azhar were discovered on the Mumbai streets by the filmmakers. The film's adult stars, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto, have since shot to international fame. The lives of the two poor child stars — who live in the slum called Garib Nagar, or the "city of the poor" — haven't changed much.

"I'm feeling bad," Rubina said. "My house had been demolished. I'm thinking about where to sleep."

"Slumdog" filmmakers say they've done their best to help the young stars. They set up a trust to ensure the children get proper homes, a decent education and a nest egg when they finish high school. They have 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 it contains — not even the children's parents — for fear of making the youngsters vulnerable to exploitation.
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