'Slumdog' child star lands book deal
MUMBAI, India (AP):Slumdog Millionaire child star Rubina Ali played a poverty-stricken child in the Oscar-winning film, but the real-life daughter of India's shantytowns now has a small fortune in book and movie deals.
The 10-year-old's publisher and producer said she is already committed to projects worth more than $145,000, and her family could soon move out of the slums and into a new apartment paid for by a trust set up by the film's director, Danny Boyle.
Rubina and her Slumdog co-star, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 11, have both landed roles in the independent film Lord Owen's Lady, a romantic comedy by Dragons Productions (Wales) Ltd, chairman Martin Pennell said. Pennell said the children will each be paid £1,000 ($1,626) per day, for about 20 days of shooting on location in Dubai and Wales. He said talks are ongoing with actor Anthony Hopkins to play the father of Lord Owen, a reckless heir who falls in love with a beautiful Indian woman.
The children shot to fame after starring in Slumdog, the rags-to-riches blockbuster that won eight Oscars. Rubina played the young Latika, who grows up to become the hero's love interest, and Azhar plays his brother, Salim. Rubina has also received £20,000 ($32,515) as an advance for her autobiography, published in June, and stands to get at least £50,000 ($81,287) more in royalties by April, said Philippe Robinet, publisher at France's Oh! Editions, which first released the book.
Random House released an English version of the 198-page book, which is being translated into 14 languages, as Slumgirl Dreaming.
Robinet said at least 100,000 copies of the book have been sold worldwide so far. Rubina's royalties will be administered by A.F.E.A., L'Association Francaise pour L'Enfance Abandonnee, a French charity that works with homeless children.
"I strongly hope Rubina could have a better life from this book," Robinet said by phone from Paris. "It's not so easy to do. I'm not sure we'll succeed."
Slumdog filmmakers have also struggled to make a better life for the young stars, encouraging them to get an education by setting aside money for Rubina and Azhar to get when they turn 18 - provided they finish school.
So far, however, the children's attendance has been miserable, threatening their trust funds.
Noshir Dadrawala, administrator of the Jai Ho trust, said Azhar's attendance has improved in recent weeks, thanks to the support of his mother, but Rubina remains badly truant. Rubina's father, Rafiq Qureshi, said Wednesday that she had missed school because of a foot injury and then because he took her on a pilgrimage to Ajmer, a Muslim pilgrimage site in western India.
offer of apartment
The Jai Ho trust has nevertheless agreed to buy Rubina a 3.2 million rupee ($70,091) apartment in Bandra, not far from her home, trustee Dadrawala said.
Her family now lives in an illegal shanty, pieced together of bubble-gum pink corrugated metal in the Mumbai slum of Garib Nagar, 'City of the Poor'. The shack was torn down by civic authorities on December 30 for the second time in eight months - though the family quickly pieced it back together.
"We are just trying to clear up the legalities," Dadrawala said Wednesday. "Once we see it's a clear title, we shall finalise the deal." In July, the trust also bought co-star Azhar, who also grew up in Garib Nagar, a 250-square-foot apartment.