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'Slumdog Millionaire's' entire cast expected at the Academy Awards

There were worries that a trip to L.A. would further complicate the lives of two child actors cast from Mumbai's slums.

February 20, 2009|John Horn

After weighing the implications of bringing its youngest, poorest Indian actors to the Academy Awards, the makers of "Slumdog Millionaire" have decided to do so, and now expect the film's entire cast to arrive in time for Sunday night's Oscar ceremony.

If the film wins the best picture Oscar, all nine of the youthful performers are expected to join producer Christian Colson on the stage of the Kodak Theatre.

Colson, distributor Fox Searchlight and director Danny Boyle had worried that a trip to Los Angeles for the Screen Actors Guild Awards (where "Slumdog Millionaire" won the ensemble prize) and the Oscars (where "Slumdog Millionaire" has 10 nominations) might further complicate the already difficult lives of two children cast from Mumbai's slums.

Those "Slumdog Millionaire" costars are Rubina Ali, who plays the film's youngest Latika, and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, who plays its youngest Salim. (The film's other child actors are middle- and upper-class residents of either India or England.)

The filmmakers and the studio eventually decided that they would invite and pay for the transportation of the film's entire cast, rather than bringing in a select few. "We decided it was better to include everybody," said Michelle Hooper, Fox Searchlight's publicity chief.

But it was difficult to arrange for transit, as not all of the children have visas, and not all of their parents are able to leave India, either for health or legal reasons. Hooper said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been especially generous in finding tickets for the cast and crew.

In addition to Ali and Ismail, the other young actors set to attend are Freida Pinto (oldest Latika), Dev Patel (oldest Jamal), Madhur Mittal (oldest Salim), Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala (middle Salim), Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar (middle Latika), Tanay Chheda (middle Jamal) and Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (youngest Jamal).

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john.horn@latimes.com

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