- Slumdog Millionaire hit theaters on November 12, 2008
- Dev Patel and Freida Pinto started dating after filming but split six years later
- The kids cast in the film returned to Mumbai and ended up back in the slums
Slumdog Millionaire not only rocked the world of cinema but the world as a whole when it hit theaters 15 years ago.
The hit 2008 film, inspired by the novel Q&A, follows Jamal Malik (Dev Patel) as he addresses accusations that he cheated on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and reflects on how he got there.
It went on to win eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director Best Adapted Screenplay and more.
At the time, Danny Boyle‘s film lifted the lens on third world poverty.
Not only did Boyle film on-site in India but he also cast children from the very slums they filmed in.
He even brought the kids who played Young Lakita (Rubina Ali), Young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh), Young Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed), Teenage Lakita (Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar) and Teenage Jamal (Tanay Chheda) to the Oscars.
Boyle said flying the young actors to Hollywood was a challenge.
‘Some of the kids don’t know their birth dates, so getting them a passport was a nightmare,’ he told THR.
While he wanted to give these children their own rags-to-riches story, he received backlash after the actors never surpassed rags.
Director Danny was criticized for not providing for the actors, especially since the film, which was made on a relatively small budget, went on to make more than $370 million at the box office.
‘We were aware we would have to make provisions for the children,’ he told the outlet.
So Danny appointed the teenagers as beneficiaries of a trust contingent on them finishing school.
However many of the children didn’t make it far from the same shanty towns following their attendance at the Oscars.
Here’s what became of the film’s adult leads and the children who played the younger versions of them.
Dev Patel: Got his start on UK teen drama Skins but Slumdog Millionaire put him on the map
Dev Patel was one of the few actors cast who didn’t get their break from Slumdog Millionaire.
He landed his first role on the British TV series Skins in 2007.
‘There is a paper in the UK called Metro, [my mom] tore out this ad and I thought she had lost her mind,’ he said on The Project’s Gorgi Coghlan.
‘I was doing exams, I was 16, but thank God she did, because you know, it has changed my life.’
Coming from a conservative Indian community in London, he and his family experienced judgement from their neighbors.
‘It felt like suicide in the community to put your kid into a TV show and let him drop out of school at 16,’ he told The New York Times.
‘While everyone else’s kid is off becoming a doctor or a dentist, I’m here on this TV show, simulating sex and taking drugs.’
However, Slumdog Millionaire was the project that really put his name on the map.
He played the lead, Jamal, who went on to succeed on Indian’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and was accused of cheating on the show.
Dev received a massive amount of critical acclaim for his performance in Slumdog Millionaire and many thought he should’ve went on to win the Oscar for it.
He even started dating his love interest in the film, Freida Pinto. They dated for six years but broke up in 2014.
However, despite all of the good film brought him, he suffered with imposter syndrome after the success of the hit film.
‘I didn’t feel worthy. That kind of speaks to my natural low self-esteem,’ he told the outlet.
‘You’re there with really impressive creatures, the best of the best, and you’re like, “I don’t know what I have to offer in this space.”‘
Despite this, Dev ended up finding his place in Hollywood.
He went on to book roles in The Last Airbender (2010) and Chappies (2015).
However, it wasn’t until the 2016 film Lion that he won his Oscar for Best Actor, which many had anticipated he’d receive eight years prior.
Additionally, he started dating Tilda Cobham-Hervey. They met in June of 2016 while filming the based-on-a-true-story drama, Hotel Mumbai.
As his love life flourished, his career continued to as well. He landed roles in The Wedding Guest (2018), The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019) and The Green Knight (2021).
He made headlines in 2022 after witnessing a tragic knife fight in Australia.
In a statement, his agent said: ‘We can confirm that last night, in Adelaide, Dev Patel and his friends witnessed a violent altercation that was already in progress outside of a convenience store.
‘Dev acted on his natural instinct to try and de-escalate the situation and break up the fight.
‘The group was thankfully successful in doing so and they remained on site to ensure that the police and eventually the ambulance arrived.’
The statement continued: ‘There are no heroes in this situation and sadly this specific incident highlights a larger systemic issue of marginalized members of society not being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
‘The hope is that the same level of media attention this story is receiving (solely because Dev, as a famous person, was involved) can be a catalyst for lawmakers to be compassionate in determining long-term solutions to help not only the individuals who were involved but the community at large.’
Most recently, he filmed The Wonderful Story Of Henry Sugar (2023) and Poison (2023).
Freida Pinto: Struggled with overnight fame after Slumdog Millionaire – and broke up with Dev during ‘quarter-life crisis’
Freida played Jamal’s love interest, Lakita, in Slumdog Millionaire. Even though she has landed roles since, the 2008 film still remains her biggest credit to date.
‘It really does have an impact, even today. No matter where I go or how many films I will do, it will be Slumdog Millionaire,’ she told Stellar Magazine.
Initially, she was nervous about the pressures of fame from the Oscar-winning film.
Freida feared the ‘circus’ that built up around Hollywood actors and said she wasn’t ready for it.
‘The first two years were difficult. My friends said, “You’re becoming reclusive.” I was fearful. Will I have privacy any more? Will my every move be judged?’ she told The Mail on Sunday in 2017.
She felt it was important to not just take the next biggest offer, but to take a film that honored her culture.
‘I recognized that this opportunity had probably never happened before to someone from India. It would have been easy to take a big-budget film, but I was afraid of letting my whole culture down,’ she explained.
She admitted she didn’t always make the right decision on roles and cites Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes from 2011. She played a scientist, Caroline, who turned out to be, after the editing process, just a pretty face. One US critic called Caroline a ‘boringly decorous tag-along girlfriend.’
She also vowed to take on diverse roles.
‘I don’t want to be doing the same things over and over. It’s boring. And you end up sleepwalking through that project,’ the actress said.
‘I haven’t done that in my career so far, as I’m really conscious that I can get bored if I’m not challenged.’
Her performance isn’t the only aspect of Slumdog Millionaire that continued to follow her. Her relationship with Dev continued for six years.
However, she broke up with him during her self-proclaimed ‘quarter-life crisis.’
‘For me it started at the age of 28, 29. Maybe it’s the body. Maybe it’s something about moving into womanhood from being a girl. You start asking, “What do I really want?”‘ she told The Mail on Sunday.
‘There comes a point where you’ve got everything you want – career, love, family – but you’ve ignored yourself. Life hits you and you think, “What about me? What do I really want?”‘
Breaking up with Dev was part of her discovery process.
‘For the first time, I finally understand the concept of self-love and self-care,’ she said. ‘I’m single and happy, and busy. I haven’t been single for a long time. It’s like being born again.’
However, she doesn’t feel like her six-year relationship was a waste of time.
‘You can be with someone and it can be really good for your growth,’ she said.
‘That’s what Dev was for me. The seven years I was with him were so impactful. But I ended up being single when I started thinking about these other things.’
Plus, they have still managed to be good friends.
‘You can’t share such a monumental shift in life, then not be friends. That would be the saddest thing ever,’ she shared.
During that time, she was also working with the mind behind 12 Years A Slave, John Ridley, on the series Guerilla.
‘It’s set in 1971 but it could be 2017,’ she explained. ‘It was a chapter I didn’t know anything about, and a lot of my British friends didn’t either. It’s a “what if” story. What if someone did get radicalized? What would be the fate of the revolutionaries?
‘The show is about how far we’ll go for our beliefs, and how the line between activism and radicalism can be crossed.’
She’s still working to this day on films like Love Wedding Repeat (2020), Intrusion (2021) and most recently, North Star (2023).
Plus, she’s now married to photographer Cory Tran. The two share a son named Rumi-Ray who recently turned two years old.
Anil Kapoor: A Bollywood powerhouse who loves to stay fit
Anil Kapoor played the host of the Indian Who Wants to be a Millionaire game show in Slumdog Millionaire, Prem.
Even before the hit film, he already had a successful career in Bollywood.
‘I have taken risks in my career. Risk is a part and parcel of life. One must always be ready to fail,’ he told DailyMail.com in 2015 at the IIFA Awards in Kuala Lumpur.
‘My key to survival is I listen. I am a good listener. I especially listen to my children because they have the pulse of the world. I have realized one thing in all these years.
‘Most people lose touch with what the audience wants as the years pass. If you are out to give people what they want, you have to be willing to experiment. And if you want to experiment, you have to listen.’
Following these guidelines, he landed roles in 24 (2010) and Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol (2011).
After his successful run on 24, he got his own spinoff series, 24: India, which ran from 2013 to 2016.
He also honored his roots and filmed Bollywood films like Dil Dhadakne Do (2015) along with Priyanka Chopra.
‘I would say Dil Dhadakne Do was my best ever experience working in a Hindi film. It is definitely the best Hindi film I have seen in the past few years. Sometimes, everything just falls in place,’ he told DailyMail.com of the experience.
‘Being youthful is in my genes. I would credit my grandfather for that bit. I love exercises like cycling, hot yoga, lifting weights and jogging. I love everything that makes me sweat.’
He then starred in Welcome Back, the sequel to 2007’s blockbuster Welcome, which sees him return as the lovable goon, Majnu bhai.
The star, who has made a global impact, is still a family man at heart.
‘What makes me happy is seeing my daughters and wife laugh. If my country wins a match it makes me happy,’ he shared.
‘Having seen four decades in films now makes me happy. I realize I am lucky enough. I believe after you achieve everything in life it is very important to look back and see how the journey has been.’
He also prioritizes staying fit and active.
‘You need to find something passionate everyday which will keep you moving. I keep on working constantly, to regulate blood circulation,’ he explained.
‘The only way to distract your mind from negativity is to focus on work. I unwind by keeping positive people around me. If anybody demoralizes me I keep myself away from that element. Combination of food, work and exercise keeps me fit.’
Ayush Mahesh Khedekar: Went on to appear in few films and is now an aspiring director
Ayush played the young version of Dev’s character when he was eight years old.
Since Slumdog Millionaire, he has gone on to star in a few films and is also an aspiring director.
The now 20-year-old, unlike some of the other actors, seemed to be appreciative of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny’s help.
Following Slumdog’s eight Oscar wins, Ayush told MailOnline: ‘It’s unbelievable. I never thought I would get an Oscar. Daniel told us: “If you work hard, the Oscar will come to you.” And it came.’
Six years later, Ayush, who came from an upper-middle class background, spoke with MailOnline once again and shared that he still had his eyes set on stardom.
He told MailOnline: ‘I definitely want to be an actor and nothing else.
‘My brother who is very passionate about football and idolizes [Cristiano] Ronaldo but I have no other interest than acting.’
And he did continue to act, starring in Gandhi Of The Month (2014), Jai Gangaajal (2016) and Marjaavaan (2019).
He has also come to New York for college. In 2020, he started studying at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh.
He is seemingly studying the film and broadcast industry and during his time at college, he has worked as a production assistant, camera operator and director.
Rubina Ali: Her home was bulldozed and she faced other hardships after returning from the Oscars
Rubina played the young version of Freida’s character, Lakita when she was eight years old.
Like the other actors pulled from the slums of Mumbai, she was initially eager about attending the Oscars and the opportunities that Slumdog Millionaire would provide.
‘This has been an amazing day, spending all this time together after so long. It was like we were shooting the film again,’ Rubina said to MailOnline at the time.
However, the hype didn’t last for long.
‘I think it was the best time of our lives,’ she told MailOnline six years later, before addressing the struggles she faced soon after.
A few months after she returned to the slums of Mumbai, her home was bulldozed by the city.
Later that year, Rubina made history by becoming the youngest person to ‘write’ an autobiography about her rise and immediate fall from stardom.
In her 192-page book, Slumgirl Dreaming: Journey To The Stars, actually penned by journalist Divya Dugar, Rubina gave an insight into her rise from the slums of Mumbai to Hollywood fame and back again.
Her luck hadn’t turned around from then. In 2011, her entire town was burned down.
She regained hope when she and her family were relocated to a flat in the desirable Bandra area of Mumbai, which was paid for by the fund set up by Slumdog director Danny.
The filmmakers had set up a trust fund for the children who appeared in the film, and each will be given a lump sum when they turned 18.
Properties will also be released to their parents when the children turn 19 and have completed their education.
Yet Rubina did not get on with her grandmother and because of this was unable to stay in the accommodations provided, violating the trust.
‘Right from early on I never got along well with her and she knew that we didn’t like each other,’ she said.
‘When it almost became unbearable for me to deal with her, I decided to move out from the flat given to me by the trust and went to stay with my biological mother in Nallasopara outside Mumbai.’
Once she turned 17, Rubina told MailOnline that she had finished her school exams and was studying computing, but she moved out of her mom’s home as she had difficulties living with her stepfather.
Fortunately, she was able to turn things around. After discovering she no longer wanted to pursue computing, she opened up her own salon called Rubina’s Beauty Hair & Nails.
‘Days passed by…Nothing was coming my way. I wanted to find myself a secure job so that I can find myself a secure job so that I can feed myself and don’t depend upon others,’ she said.
‘Initially, I wanted to be an air hostess and then I developed this inclination towards being a beautician, which I finally took up. I want to grow and be better at my job.
‘I would like to turn into a celebrity hair and makeup artist in the near future.’
Madhur Mittal: Had a steady career – but was hit with accusations of assaulting his ex-girlfriend
Madhur played the adult version of Jamal’s older brother, Salim. Slumdog Millionaire is what put his name on the map in Hollywood.
After the film, he appeared in a couple of episodes in the TV series Treasure Island (2012) and Kidnap And Ransom (2012).
He then got his next role in Million Dollar Arm (2014). Soon after, he landed roles in Pocket Gangsters (2015) and Maatr (2017).
It would be a few years until he landed his next roles in Pocket Gangsters (2015) and Kidnap And Ransom.
In 2021, he landed a role in the TV series Matsya Kannd. However, that was the same year that he was accused of sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
A source close to his ex claims that they dated for two months, but then broke up.
He tried to win her back and when she turned down his advances, the source claimed he sexually assaulted her.
He has since spoken out and denied these claims.
‘Getting to learn about things which are untrue is extremely disturbing. There have been WhatsApp messages filled with stories that are assassinating my character. These are being forwarded for weeks in casting directors’ groups for denying me work,’ he told Bombay Times.
‘I’m the only earning member of my family since the age of seven and all these reports in the media are affecting me, my family and my career in more ways than you can imagine.
‘I urge everyone to not jump to conclusions about me through these one-sided reports in the media. I have faith in the law and the actual truth shall be out soon.’
Regardless of the allegations, he continued to work and landed one of his biggest roles as real-life cricket player Muttiah Muralitharan in 800.
He opened up to India Blooms about how an accident he had helped him land the role.
‘I had a car crash around eight years ago. Due to the crash, I messed up my right elbow which actually helped me to replicate Murali sir’s action (the spin bowling legend couldn’t straighten his arm) more accurately,’ he shared.
‘So a bad experience in my life eventually helped me to portray Murali sir’s action a bit more realistically.’
While speaking with the outlet, he touched on the future of his career, teasing that ‘there are a bunch of things in the pipeline.’
Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail: Returned to the slums after he was forced the sell the apartment gifted to him
Azharuddin played the young version of Madhur’s character, Samil, when he was 10 years old.
Unfortunately, like Rubina, Azharuddin had to return to the slums after filming Slumdog Millionaire and attending the Oscars.
His father, Mohammed Ismail, complained that he and his son weren’t paid enough.
He told MailOnline: ‘My son has taken on the world and won. I am so proud of him but I want more money.
‘They promised me a new house but it hasn’t happened. I’m still in the slum.’
Just months after his return, his home was bulldozed by authorities and the child told MailOnline that he still hadn’t heard from director Danny.
‘Danny Boyle promised me that my life would change after the Oscars,’ the youngster said.
‘Now that time in America when I was on the red carpet seems like a dream.
‘It is a nightmare to be now living in the slums with the filth and the dirt and the dangerous streets.’
‘I do not think that Danny Boyle would let his own children spend one night in the slums,’ Azharuddin said.
‘But they come from a healthy family and I am just a poor person who lives in the slums.
‘So why should his children live here?’
Word must have gotten back to Danny because this was when he helped Azharuddin and Rubina move out of their destroyed shacks into their new flats.
In a 2014 interview with MailOnline, he revealed things were still going well: ‘I used to live in a slum. Now I live in a nice apartment and go to a good school.’
Unfortunately, by the time 2020 came back around, Azharuddin was back in the slums.
He stopped receiving monthly expenses from the trust when he turned 18 years old and was forced the sell the flat gifted to him by Danny.
‘The stardom is over. Now I have to earn to run the family. Mumbai is crowded and polluted. I was born in a slum but never wanted to go back there,’ he told the Mirror.