At last Mumbai authorities may be picking up on the idea of bad publicity. City authorities demolished homes around the recently rebuild shack of “Slumdog Millionaire” child star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail but left his standing Saturday.
About 18 homes were demolished in the Garib Nagar (“city of the poor”) district, but another 12, including Azhar’s, were left up.
The city tore down the same homes, including Azhar’s, 16 days ago. The next week, authorities leveled the nearby lane where “Slumdog” co-star Rubina Ali lived.
By Saturday, most residents had taken out high-interest loans from local moneylenders and rebuilt their modest, makeshift homes.
Azhar’s father, Mohammed Ismail, said his son’s involvement in the movie saved their home (duh).
“Azhar has got an award. They respect that. I appreciate it. When they first demolished our house, they didn’t know,” Ismail said.
On Friday, Azhar and Rubina’s families were given government apartments, paid for with funds from the local chapter of the ruling Congress party. “Slumdog” director Danny Boyle also flew to India last week and promised them homes. The families are now trying to figure out if they’ll be able to keep both.
Azhar said he’d like two apartments – one for himself and one for his parents – but also wants all his neighbors to get houses too.
“Before giving me a home, they should give it to my friends,” he said.
The city officials said the homes were wrecked because they were illegally built, but Azhar’s family can (suddenly) prove they lived in Garib Nagar before 1995, which gives them some property rights.