From slums to flats, from "Slumdog Millionaire" to another international movie with Anthony Hopkins. The dream ride continues for Rubina Rafiq Qureshi and Azharuddin Ismail, who will now be seen in British director-producer Martin Pennell's "Lord Owen's Lady".
The third child actor seen in Danny Boyle's Oscar winning film, Ayush Mahesh Khadekar, the son of a civil engineer, has also found a role in "Lord Owen's Lady" that stars Rohini Hattangadi along with "Silence of the Lambs" star Hopkins.
Fourteen-year-old Rubina's father Rafiq Qureshi, whose family has moved from a tenement to a flat in Bandra after his daughter appeared in the Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire", is jubilant.
"I am extremely happy that my daughter has got such a huge film. She will start shooting for the film in the next two to four months," Rafiq told IANS, adding that he got a call from Pennell a year ago.
"Now things have fallen into place. She was earlier supposed to play a sister but now there are apparently some changes. We have been told that she will be paid 1,000 pounds a day (Rs.16 lakh for 21 days)," he added.
Rafiq, who once allegedly tried to sell Rubina, now says he will always support her.
"She always wanted to be an actress and I am with her. My dream is to see Rubina working with Salman Khan. Rubina herself is a huge fan of Salman. Though she has never met Salman, she wants to work with him at least once."
"Lord Owen's Lady", a love story between a Welsh nobleman and a naively romantic Indian woman, will be shot in London and Shimla and Rafiq is hoping to accompany Rubina.
"Rubina now goes to a school called Asima in Bandra West. We stay in a Bandra flat given to us by Danny Boyle's trust. We shifted just a week back," said Rafiq.
Rubina's co-star Azharuddin, also 14, is going places too. He has moved into his flat in the suburb of Santacruz as well and is studying in Class 4 in Asima.
The one cloud in his happiness is the absence of his father, who passed away last year.
"We were told about the film a year ago, we signed it at that time. Now it is happening. Azhar's father expired in 2011 during Ramzaan. The film was signed when his father was alive and his father wanted him to do the film and grow in life. Even Azhar is happy about the film," Azhar's mother Sharmeen Shaikh Ismail told IANS.
"We stay in Santacruz (East). The flat is given to us by Danny Boyle and we are thankful to him," added Sharmeen who earlier used to stay in Behrampada, Bandra.
"Danny makes it a point to meet Azhar and Rubina whenever he comes to India. Last time Azhar and Rubina met Danny at JW Marriott hotel. He said he would cast Azhar and Rubina whenever he makes his next film," she said.
"Azhar wants to be an actor like Salman. His abba and me also wanted him to be an actor. I have lost my passport... I need a new one so that I can accompany Azhar for his shooting."
Ayush's story is a little different. His father's a civil engineer and his mother a teacher; so his is not the rags to riches story.
But Mahesh is equally happy that his 11-year-old son has got another international project.
"However, they have told me not to disclose the story. It's in pre-production stage," he said, adding that he wants his son to work in children-oriented films where he can get a role like "Slumdog...".
"I am not craving for money. I only want Ayush to do some sensible projects. I am very much satisfied with what I have got in life," he said.
(Uma Ramasubramaniam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)