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Homecoming for "Slumdog" Kid Ruined by Beatdown

Young actor's father roughed him up for refusing to preen for gawkers

By TAMER EL-GHOBASHY
|  Friday, May 15, 2009  |  Updated 9:58 AM EDT
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Azharuddin Ismail, 10, outside the Mumbai shanty where he lives. The "Slumdog Millionaire" star was beat up by his father for refusing to come out the shack and be put on display.

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Back to reality.

Azharuddin Ismail, one of the young stars of "Slumdog Millionaire" learned today that fame and an Oscar nod can get you a slum-god reception in the old hood, but can't protect you from an old fashioned whooping from dad.

The 45-year-old father of the little actor administered the harsh physical punishment after Azharuddin refused to emerge from the rickety shack he calls home to preen for neighbors and the media, The London Sun reported.

Witnesses told The Sun the father, Ismail, slapped and kicked the skinny 10-year-old for about 30 seconds. Azharuddin, who played a tough, street-wise orphan in the smash film, tried to stand up to his father during the beating which only enraged the dad more. The boy's mother cried out for her husband to stop, but it did little to stop the violence.

The newspaper printed sad pictures of Azharuddin crying and holding his face in pain.

"It was like a scene out of 'Slumdog Millionaire,'" a witness told the British tabloid. "Azharuddin's father was upset that he was asking to be left alone because he was tired. He didn't attend school today so that he could recover from his long flight from LA and simply wanted all the attention to stop."

Later, as his son cowered inside the shack, Ismail apologized, saying he was "very sorry that I did what I did."

"I was so confused and stressed by my son's homecoming that I did not know myself for a minute," a contrite Ismail said. "I love my boy and I am very happy to have him home."

Just a day earlier, Azharuddin and his co-star, Rubina Ali, 9, returned to the Mumbai slum to a loud and festive reception by neighbors who were delirious over the kids' success. The movie was filmed near the shantytown where both children grew up.

After winning critical and commercial acclaim, many were stunned to learn that the young actors still lived in the poor district, prompting Indian authorities to make promises that the kids and their families would be given proper homes.

They are still waiting to hear anything solid about that. Meanwhile, "Slumdog" director Danny Boyle said the filmmakers have enrolled the kids in a private school and set up trust funds the actors can tap when they graduate.

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