Congress allots flats to "Slumdog" child stars

MUMBAI Fri May 29, 2009 7:15pm IST

Rubina Ali (C), who acted as young Latika in the Oscar-winning movie ''Slumdog Millionaire'', looks around as her house gets demolished by local authorities, at a slum area in Mumbai May 20, 2009.  REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

Rubina Ali (C), who acted as young Latika in the Oscar-winning movie ''Slumdog Millionaire'', looks around as her house gets demolished by local authorities, at a slum area in Mumbai May 20, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - Days after the makers of "Slumdog Millionaire" said they had bought an apartment for one of the child actors whose shanty had been demolished, Maharashtra chief minister said he had allotted flats to both child stars.

Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali, whose homes were torn down by civic authorities because they were illegal, have been allocated an apartment each and could move into them soon, a statement from the chief minister's office said on Friday.

The flats, meant for low-income families, are located in suburban Mumbai and cost about 400,000 rupees ($8,500) each. They will be paid for by the Congress party office in the city, the statement from Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said.

"The regional head of the Congress party said these two child actors were talented but were living in the slums and therefore should be given homes," the statement said, citing Chavan.

Pictures of Ismail and Ali picking through the debris of their demolished homes recently caused an uproar in Mumbai, where more than half its 17-million population is homeless.

Director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson, flew into Mumbai this week and said a home had been bought for Ismail.

They said a home would also be found for Ali by the "Jai Ho" trust, named after the film's award-winning track, and set up by Boyle and Colson to pay for the education and basic living costs of Ismail and Ali until they turn 18.

Boyle's rags-to-riches romance about a poor Indian boy competing in a TV game show scooped eight Academy Awards earlier this year, but has been criticised for romanticising poverty and life in Mumbai's teeming slums.

It was not immediately clear if the families would be asked to choose between the flats offered by the state and the trust.

Boyle and Colson last month also donated 500,000 pounds to a non-profit organisation to support a programme for children in a slum in central Mumbai, where the film was largely shot.

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