The Telegraph‘s Dean Nelson and Barney Henderson are reporting that the parents of Slumdog Millionaire‘s child actors — Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail — are accusing the film’s producers of “exploiting and underpaying the eight-year-olds, disclosing that both face uncertain futures in one of Mumbai’s most squalid slums
Director Danny Boyle “has spoken of how he set up trust funds for Rubina and Azharuddin and paid for their education. But it has emerged that the children, who played Latika and Salim in the early scenes of the film, were paid less than many Indian domestic servants.
“Rubina was paid √Ç¬£500 for a year’s work while Azharuddin received √Ç¬£1,700, according to the children’s parents.
“However a spokesman for the film’s American distributors, Fox Searchlight, disputed this saying the fees were more than three times the average annual salary an adult in their neighbourhood would receive. They would not disclose the actual sum.
“Both children were found places in a local school and receive √Ç¬£20 a month for books and food. However, they continue to live in grinding poverty and their families say they have received no details of the trust funds set up in their names. Their parents said that they had hoped the film would be their ticket out of the slums, and that its success had made them realise how little their children had been paid.
“The children received considerably less than the poor Afghan child stars of The Kite Runner, who embarrassed their Hollywood producers when they disclosed that they had been paid √Ç¬£9,000.
“Rubina and Azharuddin live a few hundreds yards from each other in a tangle of makeshift shacks alongside Mumbai’s railway tracks at Bandra. Azharuddin is in fact worse off than he was during filming: his family’s illegal hut was demolished by the local authorities and he now sleeps under a sheet of plastic tarpaulin with his father, who suffers from tuberculosis.
“‘There is none of the money left. It was all spent on medicines to help me fight TB,’ Azharuddin’s father, Mohammed Ismail, said. “We feel that the kids have been left behind by the film. They have told us there is a trust fund but we know nothing about it and have no guarantees.’”