Azharuddin Ismail, left, who played the young Salim, and Rubina Ali, who played the young Latika at a Mumbai slum in 2009. Photo: Reuters
The child actors who rose from poverty in India to star in Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire are thriving eight years on from the film's release, according to British director Danny Boyle.
The heartwarming drama won eight Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Boyle, and propelled the young cast into the spotlight, including Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail, who both started life in the slums of Mumbai.
The filmmakers later came under fire amid accusations they had given the children a glimpse of a better life, including taking them to the Oscars, before cutting contact, prompting Boyle to insist the youngsters were being looked after with the help of a trust.
Director Danny Boyle with Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Rubina Ali at the Governors Ball in Hollywood in 2009. Photo: Reuters
Boyle has now given an update on their progress six years on, revealing they are enrolled in a good school and he goes back to visit regularly.
"We sent them to a wonderful school. They're called the Aseema Schools, which are run by these women who take over abandoned state schools and offer a wonderful education, really. They're benefiting hugely... (Producer Christian Colson and I) go to Mumbai at least once a year..." Boyle told The Hollywood Reporter.
"They're bright kids... They've learned to speak English, which they couldn't do when we were shooting and that will benefit them in terms of (future) opportunities. And we have provisions made for them to help them (when they leave school) as well, which we can't tell them, because her (Ali's) father will mortgage it off to some gangster..."
Cast of Slumdog Millionaire: (From left) Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, Rubina Ali, Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, (back left) Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar and Tanay Hemant Chheda arrive at the Oscars in 2009. Photo: AP
Boyle goes on to reveal one of the older child actors, Tanay Chheda, is now pursuing a career as a filmmaker.
"Tanay, who played the teen version of Dev Patel's character, is going to be a filmmaker, I think. He's a very bright kid. He's off making movies. I see him occasionally in New York. And the weird thing is he's six-foot-tall [182cm] now. You have an image of them and then they shoot up (grow bigger)!"
Boyle is planning his next trip out to Mumbai in March.