26 FEBRUARY 2009

Just before flying home to an expected heroes' welcome in Mumbai the child actors of victorious Oscar film Slumdog Millionaire had one more treat in store for them – a trip to Disneyland.

Nine-year-old Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, ten, the real-life slum-dwellers who play Freida Pinto and Dev Patel's characters as youngsters, couldn't have been further removed from their tough existence in the city's ghettoes.

Dressed in brand new clothes for the occasion, they looked thrilled as they posed for pictures with Mickey and had fun on the rides, between signing autographs for passersby.

The kids, who visited Universal Studios and the beach as well, were probably still pinching themselves about the events of previous days, which included being congratulated by Angelina Jolie and Kate Winslet.

And their win has also brought Rubina and Azhar something more precious than a sightseeing tour of America. Local housing officials explained their families were to be given free homes because they had "made the nation proud".

Recalling how their one-room shack was repeatedly destroyed by the authorities in slum clearances, Rubina's father Rafiq said: "We are happy that we will have a permanent roof over our head".

Photo: PA
If Azhar (second from left) and Rubina (third from right) were overjoyed by their Oscar win, it didn't compare with their excitement at being treated to the attractions of Disneyland
Photo: PA
The children, who were plucked from the shantytowns of Mumbai to star in Danny Boyle's acclaimed film, have learnt that the city authorities have decided to give them permanent houses as a reward for making the country proud