‘Slumdog…’ star Azharuddin to tell his story in English

By Quaid Najmi, IANS
Saturday, June 12, 2010

PUNE - Azharuddin Mohammed Shaikh, 12, who became a household name after the success of “Slumdog Millionaire”, is all set to tell his story to the English reading public with the translation of his autobiography “Slumboy”, which was penned jointly with a French journalist.

“Work on the translation of ‘Slumboy’, co-authored with Mouhssine Ennaimi, is under way. We plan to release it around Diwali,” Sunil Mehta, proprietor of the Pune-based Mehta Publishing House, told IANS here.

The original, published in December 2009, received a very good response in France and other countries where French is understood, but it remained practically unknown in India, said Mehta.

Mehta Publishing House has also brought out the first Indian language translation - in Marathi - of Azharuddin’s co-star and close friend Rubina Ali Shaikh’s autobiography, “Majha Taryankade Pravas”, scheduled to be released in the state June 27.

Rubina’s publicist and mentor Dinesh Dubey said while the 11-year girl stands to earn nearly Rs.7 million by way of royalties on her autobiography, Azharuddin has earned around Rs.1 million so far.

“We hope that the English translation will reach a much wider audience worldwide, just like the Oscar awards, which brought both of them fame and made them household names,” Dubey said.

Incidentally, Azharuddin is preparing to play an important role in a forthcoming Hollywood movie, “Lord Owen’s Lady” in which his friend Rubina is also acting along with American star Anthony Hopkins.

The movie is being produced by Dragons Productions (Wales) Ltd, Britain, said Dubey, who is also the agent for Rubina.

The shooting for the movie is likely to start in early 2011 on locales in the US, Europe, the Middle East and India, he added.

Nearly two years after the triumph of “Slumdog Millionaire” at the Oscars, both Azharuddin and Rubina - hailing from the squalid neighbourhood of Garib Nagar slums in Bandra east - have developed a close bond of friendship.

“They love each other’s company, they regularly catch up with each other, meet daily in school, laugh and play, share jokes and secrets - it’s a joy to see them,” Dubey said.

Both Rubina and Azharuddin study in Class 3 in English medium in the Pali Chimbai High School.

While Rubina commutes from the Garib Nagar slum, Azhar goes to the school from Santacruz, where he shifted to a flat allotted by the Jai Ho Trust, set up by “Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle.

Dubey is all praise for Boyle’s new role as the benefactor and guardian of the two children. “He has taken up full responsibility for the education and upbringing of Azharuddin and Rubina. This is really admirable, considering that nobody from India has come forward to help them,” Dubey observed.

Though Azharuddin and Rubina meet each other regularly, the rest of the “Slumdog Millionaire” team seems to have gone their own way.

They only come together two-three times a year when Boyle travels to Mumbai and makes it a point to throw a party for his entire “Slumdog Millionaire” team here.

“A majority of them do come for the event. Otherwise, nobody interacts with each other despite having worked for a movie which created history and fired the imagination of people all over the world,” he said.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at q.najmi@ians.in)

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