"Slumdog" Child Actors To Attend Oscars

The child stars of "Slumdog Millionaire" will take their first airplane trip when they attend the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday.

The rags-to-riches story set and shot in the slums of Mumbai has been nominated for 10 Oscar awards, including best picture and best director.

All nine actors who play the three main characters in three stages of their lives will attend the Oscars, James Finn of Fox Searchlight Pictures said Friday. They include actors comfortable on the red carpet, like 18-year-old Dev Patel, who lives in London, and the glamorous Freida Pinto, 24, who has been praised in Vogue as a new style icon.

But also attending will be Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, and Rubina Ali, 9, both of whom were plucked from their homes in a Mumbai slum by director Danny Boyle and his team. The trip will be their first on an airplane and their first out of the country, relatives said.

"I'm very happy that I'm going to the Oscars," Rubina said in her home Friday, hours before she was to leave for the United States. "My friends are saying, 'your fate is so good."'

"I'm not scared," said Rubina, who will be traveling with her uncle. "I'm going to go and take a lot of pictures and show them to people over here."

She planned to go shopping Friday afternoon for a dress to wear to the ceremony.

Rubina's uncle, Mohidden Khan, 40, laughed when he was asked what he would wear on the red carpet.

"I'm thinking maybe jeans and a T-shirt," he said.

Azharuddin's father, Mohammed Ismail, said he felt "very, very good" that his son could make the trip. Azharuddin will be traveling with his mother.

Finn said Fox Searchlight had been making visa and travel arrangements for the children and their relatives up until the last minute. Securing visas and passports in India can be a torturous process, especially for impoverished Indians who often don't have the necessary identification forms and documents.

"Everybody is really excited about it," said Finn, who added that the actors would be staying in a five-star hotel. "It's nice the whole gang will be together."

By Erika Kinetz
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