Azhar gave us new lease of life: ‘Slumdog’ star’s mother

By Shilpa Raina, IANS,

New Delhi : They would have never imagined in their wildest dreams that they would go on a foreign trip and be showered with frantic media attention. The mother of Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail Shaikh, child star of Oscar winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”, says that her son has has given “them a new lease of life”.

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Azharuddin’s mother Shamim Shaikh was in the capital along with her son and another star kid of “Slumdog Millionaire” Rubina Ali Qureshi and her father, as the two star kids walked the ramp for the designer duo Ashima-Leena Thursday at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW).

“I still don’t believe the fact that life has changed so much. Azhar has given us a new lease of life, we couldn’t have asked for more,” Shamim told IANS.

“Media is running after my son and he too is enjoying every bit of the attention. There are times when he gets irritated, but he is still so young and his life too has changed so suddenly that he is getting accustomed to this never ending attention,” she added.

While Azhar usually poses happily for the shutter-bugs, there are times when he is not in the mood and Shamim explains that the main reason behind this is his naughtiness.

“Azhar bahut shaitan hain (He is very naughty) and sometimes moody also. But normally he is very friendly with everyone. There are times when he is tired, only then does he become a bit irritated. Varna Azhar bahut aaccha baacha hai (Otherwise Azhar is a very good boy).”

Thursday afternoon both Rubina, 9, and Azharuddin, 10, along with their parents had a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence.

“On our behalf, the designer duo gave Soniaji a letter that requested her to take some immediate step and arrange a house for us. We are still living in the shanty in East Bandra and what has been promised to us was not given,” Shamim explained.

“Sonaiji was very nice to us and has assured that everything will be fine. It was a wonderful meeting and we trust her words,” Shamim added.

Shamim wants the government to take immediate action so that they can shift to a better home than their one room plastic-sheet-roof house.

“We want Azhar to study because this media attention won’t last for ever. Now we have got this opportunity, we want to capitalise on this and see our son live a normal life. We have complete faith in God,” said, Shamim, clad in a blue cotton sari.

She also blamed the filmmakers of “Slumdog Millionaire” for not given them the money they had promised before the shoot.

“They (filmmakers) promised us Rs.12 lakhs (Rs.1.2 million) and told us that they will deposit the money in the account, but till today we are waiting for the money. Azhar’s father is not well and only we know how we are surviving,” Shamim complained.

“After getting so much media attention, if we are still living in that shanty then it is very sad. We are not asking much, we just want the amount due to us.”

At the same time Shamim also mentioned that she got her first mobile phone after Azhar was selected for the role of Salim in “Slumdog Millionaire”.

“I got my first mobile, our first foreign trip because of the movie only. But all thanks goes to God because he was the one who chose my son to play the role. There were so many slum kids who had auditioned for the role, but luck was on my son’s side and here we are,” she said.

Elaborating on her first trip abroad, Shamim said: “It was like a fantasy. Initially I was a bit sceptical about the air-trip but after the initial uneasiness got over, I loved the journey and the place, though we missed India,” she quickly added.

So does she want her son to become an actor later?

“Yes I want him to be an actor. The profession has everything – love, fame, money. I trust Shirdi Sai Baba and I am sure that he will make all our dreams come true,” Shamim concluded.