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‘Slumdog’ child star to net ¥13 million in new deals

by Erika Kinetz

The Associated Press

MUMBAI — “Slumdog Millionaire” child star Rubina Ali played a poverty-stricken child in the Oscar-winning film, but the real-life daughter of India’s shantytowns now has a small fortune in book and movie deals.

The 10-year-old’s publisher and a producer say she is already committed to projects worth more than ¥13 million, and her family will soon move out of the slums and into a new apartment paid for by a trust set up by the film’s director, Danny Boyle.

Rubina and her “Slumdog” costar Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 11, have both landed roles in the independent film “Lord Owen’s Lady,” a romantic comedy by Dragons Productions (Wales) Ltd., chairman Martin Pennell said.

Pennell said the children will each be paid £1,000 (¥150,000) per day, for about 20 days of shooting in Dubai and Wales.

He said talks are continuing with actor Anthony Hopkins to play the father of Lord Owen, a reckless heir who falls in love with a beautiful Indian woman.

The children shot to fame after starring in “Slumdog,” the rags-to-riches blockbuster that won eight Oscars. Rubina played the young Latika, who grows up to become the hero’s love interest, and Azhar plays his brother, Salim.

Rubina has also received £20,000 (¥3 million) as an advance for her autobiography, published in June, and stands to get at least £50,000 (¥7.5 million) more in royalties by April, said Philippe Robinet, publisher at France’s Oh! Editions, which first released the book.

“I strongly hope Rubina could have a better life from this book,” Robinet said by phone from Paris. “It’s not so easy to do. I’m not sure we’ll succeed.”

“Slumdog” filmmakers have also struggled to make a better life for the young stars, encouraging them to get an education by setting aside money for Rubina and Azhar to get when they turn 18 — provided they finish school.

So far, however, the children’s attendance has been miserable, threatening their trust funds.