'Slumdog' Kids' Truancy Threatens Their Trust Fund

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009  |  Updated 11:00 AM EDT
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"Slumdog" Kids' Truancy Threatens Their Trust Fund

Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail have had it rough since shooting to stardom after appearing in "Slumdog Millionaire."

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The two child stars of 'Slumdog Millionaire' are at risk of losing their monthly stipend and their trust fund if they don't start attending school, a trustee for the fund said Thursday.

Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 11, is only showing up at school 37 percent of the time and Rubina Ali, 9, has only a 27 percent attendance rate, the trustee said.

"It's pathetic," said Noshir Dadrawala, who helps administer the Jai Ho trust established by the filmmakers to provide an education, living allowance and housing for the young stars, who grew up in Mumbai's real-life slums.

Dadrawala blamed the children's busy schedule for their chronic truancy.

"They are constantly going to Paris and Cochin and Chennai," he said. "That's fine, but go over the weekend, not at the sacrifice of school."

He said the trust decided that if the children do not get their attendance above 70 percent they will lose their monthly stipend of about $120. If they fail to graduate, they will forfeit a lump sum payment set aside by the filmmakers to help the children, who grew up in one of Mumbai's more wretched slums, get a start in life.

The filmmakers have declined to reveal the amount in the trust for fear of exposing the families to exploitation.

Azhar's mother, Shameen Ismail, said her son had been truant over the past two months because he was inconsolable after his father died in September from tuberculosis.

"He would cry often, so I kept him home from school for a while," she said.

She promised his attendance would improve.

"As long as I'm alive, I will make sure my son gets an education," she said.

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MORE ACCESS ON THESE TOPICS: Slumdog Millionaire - Child Stars - Movies

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