Azharuddin Ismail has turned author. Following in the footsteps of his co-star Rubina Ali, the 11-year-old actor of Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire has penned his autobiography. Slumboy: L’extraordinaire destin d'un enfant de Bombay was published in September by French publisher Michel Lafon. "Azhar has been paid 6,500 euros for the 285-page book and he will earn further royalty on it," says Dinesh Dubey, Azharuddin’s spokesperson.
Rubina’s autobiography, Slumdog Dreaming: My Journey to the Stars, was also commissioned by a French publisher, and the rights were sold to Random House India. The English book was released in India in July. Interestingly, like Rubina, whose autobiography was co-written with journalist Divya Dugar, Azharuddin’s ‘autobiography’ too is co-authored (read: ghost written) by 36-year-old Mumbai-based French journalist, Mouhssine Ennaimi.
Ennaimi says he spent five months interviewing Azharuddin and his family in their tarpaulin tent, where they were living before the success of Slumdog Millionaire, as well as in their hometown, Jalna. So far, the rights have been sold to an Italian publisher, but the book has not been translated into English, nor have the rights been sold to an Indian publisher. More than 10,000 French copies have been printed. Azharuddin and his mother were flown to Paris for the book launch, where the child star gave interviews.
“It’s the story of how a child like Azhar ended up in a movie that won eight Oscars,” Ennaimi explains. Asked what an 11-year-old who can’t read or write French write in an autobiography, Dubey says, “Celebrities keep writing about their lives and these kids too are celebs now. What’s wrong in writing an autobiography at 11? It’s an interesting narrative of their journey from slums to Hollywood. The book ends with the fact that Azhar now has a house.”
Actress-author Suchitra Krishnamoorthy says, “People are only milking their new-found stardom. That someone else has come forward to write the book proves that. And they don’t mind it either.” Emcee and actress Shivani Wazir Pasrich says, “The kids should definitely write what they have been through so far, but it should not be called an autobiography. It is a unique childhood and would make for an interesting read, but it just should be a book on their life so far.”