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The new slum stars

They live in the same slums as Rubina and Azhar from Slumdog Millionaire. Plus, they’re actors, too.

entertainment Updated: Mar 23, 2010 02:57 IST
Serena Menon
Serena Menon
Hindustan Times

Apart from earning themselves a house and some money, Slumdog Millionaire child artistes — Rubina Qureshi and Azharuddin Ismail - added the glam quotient to Garibnagar slum, where they once lived.

And amidst the media blitzkrieg, no one for a minute looked around to see that there were four other kids from the same area, who had also made their big screen debut, a year later.

Salmaan Khan, 16, Fayyaz Ahmed, 13, Jaffar Hussain, 11, and Almas Khan, 12, acted in the film, Thanks Maa, which released earlier this year. And after the Slumdog frenzy, one would have expected their lives to change too. But has it? “No. We didn’t have any such expectations. We don’t want anything from anyone. We will work hard, study and earn our livelihood,” said Salmaan, the oldest of the lot, who recently dropped out of school for personal reasons.

The child artistes worked 16 hours a day during Ramzan and paid Rs 25,000 for the film. After making it through multiple rounds of auditions for the role, they proudly boast of how Almas was picked for the role of Sursuri while Rubina was rejected. “I think they liked my work better,” said Almas.

Asked about their experience of acting in the film, the young artists smiled, while Salmaan said, “The four of us are uneducated. So we couldn’t even read the script. So the director helped us to memorise the dialogue by repeating them verbally.”

With no expectations of a call from someone who will promise them a house, they live on happily in their makeshift jhuggis next to the Bandra east railway station. “He has been acting from the time he was two months old, in small odd roles,” said Saiyad Ahmed, Fayyaz’s father. Fayyaz has done small roles in seven or eight films, including one in Kiran Rao’s Dhobhi Ghaat with Jaffar.

Directed by Irfan Kamal, Thanks Maa revolves around an orphan, called Municipality, played by Shams, the fifth child actor.

First Published: Mar 22, 2010 17:48 IST