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'Slumdog' star finally departs the slums

"SLUMDOG Millionaire" child star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and his mother moved into their new home yesterday, leaving behind a corrugated metal slum shanty for four solid walls, doors that lock and an indoor toilet.

"I was shocked when I saw this house," Azhar, 11, said, before turning on one of his favorite Hindi songs and dancing around the living room. "I want to thank Danny Boyle for giving us this flat."

Boyle, the director of the Oscar-winning hit, and producer Christian Colson will transfer the US$50,000 one-bedroom apartment to Azhar's name when he turns 18 provided he finishes school.

Officials from the trust the filmmakers set up to secure an education, housing and a living allowance for Azhar and his co-star Rubina Ali, 9, are actively searching for a new home for Rubina as well.

The apartment look out on a leafy courtyard. Outside are the sounds of birds and the occasional passing train.

"God has given me so much," said Azhar's mother, Shameem Ismail. "We will sleep very well tonight. There is no water leaking, no bad environment, no quarreling."

Meanwhile, back in Garib Nagar, "City of the Poor," one of Mumbai's more wretched slums where they used to live, Azhar's father, Mohammed Ismail, sat disconsolately on the hard wooden bed crawling with flies that the family used to share.

Azhar's mother said she doesn't want her husband in the new house because he does drugs.


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