Two months ago, the child star of the hit movie "Slumdog Millionaire" was worrying about what to wear to the Oscars. Now she has come home to a very different problem: How to get the fetid water out of her family's one-room shack.
The 9-year-old picked up a plastic bucket Monday and began to scoop, but it was hopeless. "There are a lot of rats," she told the Associated Press with a shudder, standing in water above her ankles. "In the night also."
Eight Oscars and $326 million in box office receipts have so far done little to improve the lives of the film's two impoverished child stars.
Rubina and co-star Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail have been showered with gifts and brief bursts of fame, but their day-to-day lives are little changed. In some ways, things have gotten worse: Azhar's neighborhood has grown crowded and tense. Rubina's house is flooded. And fame has brought both opportunity and shame.
If there is a happily ever after, Azhar and Rubina haven't found it yet.
"Slumdog" filmmakers insist they've done their best to help. They set up a trust, called Jai Ho, after the hit song from the film, to ensure the children get proper homes, a good education and a nest egg when they finish high school. They also donated $747,500 to a charity to help slum kids in Mumbai.
Producer Christian Colson has described the trust as substantial, but won't tell anyone how much Ğ not even the parents Ğ for fear of making the children vulnerable to exploitation.
Azhar and Rubina finished their first term at the English-language school the filmmakers enrolled them in and plan to return in June when classes resume.
Noshir Dadrawala, a Jai Ho trustee, said the families have been shown several apartments in Mumbai, but rejected them all.
"They said it's too far from where they are now living. We are going to do a second round. We hope they will like what we are offering," he said.