Slumdog stars return

February 27, 2009 at 4:11 am (news) (, , , , )

A frenzy of sorts was unleashed at the Sahar International Airport here on Thursday as the child actors of the Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire returned from their lucky streak at the Academy Awards. It was a reception befitting megastars and demigods. A row of two BMWs and a Mercedes-Benz were lined up at the airport and a multitude of paparazzi lurched about along with a sea of curious onlookers. The moment the child stars emerged, they were chased and mobbed for photographs and interviews. Jubilant family members lifted the befuddled and clueless little ones as shutterbugs went into a tizzy. A tired, sleepy Mohammed Azharuddin Ismail, 10, who played the role of youngest Salim, got hauled up on top of a car; so was his father Mohammed Ismail, who could not tell how he got up there. Clad in a bright red T-shirt, the tiny frame of Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, 8, who played the youngest Jamal, was raised above the crowd. He waved and smiled before being put in the car. The family of Tanay Chheda, 13, the middle Jamal, came with a banner welcoming him. Family and friends of Azhar and Rubiana Ali, 8, who starred as youngest Latika, came with a basket of flowers and garlands. Azhar and Rubiana reside in Mumbai’s Garib Nagar slum. A vehicle decorated with flowers was reportedly arranged for them by the families. However, they too were, like the rest of the children and their families, whisked away in the cars. In high spirits At Garib Nagar in Bandra, heightened drama unfolded as Azhar retuned to his shanty. Loudspeakers blared ‘Ringa Ringa’ and ‘Jai Ho.’ Crowds sprawled onto the roads causing nasty traffic jams. Outside Azhar’s makeshift shelter, his uncle Ramzan Sahabuddin Sheikh was shooing away children with a stick in his hand. “We are going to celebrate Azhar’s return. We have got garlands and in the evening we will put up lights and cut a cake.” The Garib Nagar children wore their dream of becoming actors on their sleeves. “If you write about us, will we get roles in movies,” some asked. They looked forward to the party in the evening. At a small building nearby, a jetlagged Azhar looked prepared to take on the barrage of media queries. “Ten people are asking me questions at once. I really wish only one person spoke at a time,” he began. Azharuddin Ismail is cheered by his neighbours. “It was like a dream. I went to Disneyland and clicked pictures with Mickey Mouse. I saw big actors, but I do not know their names. I was very happy there; had a blast. On the plane, everyone asked me for autographs and I told them I will give you, but they kept fighting for being the first to take my autograph,” the little actor twittered. Azhar spoke of his dream of becoming a top actor and said he would be bigger than Amitabh Bachchan. His favourite star is Salman Khan. Egged on by the media, he took off his shirt and bared his ten-year-old torso, for the cameras, in a bid to imitate Salman Khan. He said he would like to work with Katrina Kaif, much to the cheer of the audience. Education first Education will be the priority for the time being, he said. When asked to define Oscar awards, he said, “I know what the Oscars are. These are awards which are given to the very best of films.” Outside the building where Azhar was fielding media queries, eager onlookers and residents, jostled to get in. Near his shanty, his mother, who accompanied him to the U.S., sat with local women. “Allah has finally heard our prayers. We have gone through a lot. I really wish everyone’s life gets better,” she said, noting the gaping difference between the poverty she sees and the world of riches and glamour she has just retuned from. As for what she saw at Los Angeles, she said, “I saw a big bear.” Until late afternoon, Rubiana and her family had not returned home. “A gift for every Indian” PTI reports: “This award is a gift for every Indian,” said Oscar-winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty, as he arrived in Mumbai on Thursday to a rousing welcome along with Slumdog Millionaire actor Irrfan Khan. Pookutty and Khan were garlanded by enthusiastic fans amidst the beating of drums. Overwhelmed by the euphoric scenes outside the international airport, Kerala-born Pookutty, who won the coveted award for sound mixing, said, “I never expected such a grand welcome.” Khan said, “I am lucky to be appreciated for my work.”

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