Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail: Slumdog Millionaire Star

February 27, 2009

Meet Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, a child actor from the movie Slumdog Millionaire which has won eight Oscars. See photos, video and a biography of the youngster who has made a memorable screeen debut.

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Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, grew up in the Dharavi slums of Bandra, Mubai, India, the setting of the much lauded movie which chronicles the story of an 18-year-old orphan who wins India’s version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire.’ He and his fellow costar and neighbor the 9-year-old Rubina Ali traveled to the U.S. to attend the 81st Academy Awards where they joined up with the rest of the cast and crew, including the principal stars of the movie, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto as well as the director, Danny Boyle and the soundtrack composer, A.R. Rahman. The children graced both the red carpet and the ceremony with their sparkling, energetic presence.

The child star is in the news today as he just returned home to India. After all the attention, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, understandably wanted a little time off. He was exhausted from the long flight from Los Angeles and he had stayed home school. His father, the 45-year-old Ismail Usnay, had other ideas. He wanted to show off his son to journalists and local admirers. When Azharuddin told his father he wanted to be left alone because he was tired, his father beat him. According to a witness on the scene, the father “just flipped.”

Now it is those same waiting journalists who have given the world witness of the boy’s pain and suffering after his father beat him. You can see several heartbreaking photos here.

Hours later, his father apologized.

“I was very sorry I did what I did. “I was confused and stressed by my son’s homecoming and I did not know myself for a minute. I love my boy and I am very happy to have him home.?

As a biography, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail is 10 years old and has lived his entire life in the Dharavi slums of Mubai, India. Due to his parents’ disabilities, the family has had limited income. His father, Ismail Usnay, suffers from tuberculosis and his mother Shameem Ismail is blind in one eye.

In Slumdog Millionaire, Azharuddin plays the young Salim and his neighbor, Rubina Ali, plays the young Latika, the movie’s central characters (portrayed as adults by Madhur Mittal and Freida Pinto), who have grown up in the Mumbai slums. These roles eerily mirror the children’s own lives in the slums. Along with the other child actors, they landed roles in the movie when casting directors visited their schools.

In an interview, Azharuddin talked about his excitement over the movie winning so many awards and being so well received worldwide.

“An Oscar award is such an award that big stars dream of getting these awards. Eight awards! Even one award makes one feel so high, we have got eight awards. So, our movie has become such a super hit. I am saying so much — if I say more, I will start crying with tears of happiness.”

After the adventure of attending the Oscars, director Danny Boyle took the children to Disney World and to the Santa Monica Pier.

The good fortune will continue for the young actor as Boyle and the movie’s producers are providing new homes for both Azharuddin and Rubina Ali and both their families. The director has said the bricks and mortar flats will be modern with electricity, running water and proper sanitation. He went on to stress,

“They will still be close to their friends and extended family. Their community is very important to them, and they don’t want to move too far away from them.”

He and the producers plan to put the properties in a trust and ownership which will be released to the parents when the children turn 18.

Prior to the filming of the movie, Azharuddin’s family had been living in an faulty structure of tarpaulins and blankets in the Behrampada shanty area. The structure was later razed, leaving the family worse off. When photos of the impoverished living conditions of the children and their families were released, it sparked international outcry. This goes a long way towards rectifying the sad circumstances.

More photos and video of Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and the Slumdog Millionaire cast are below.

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