Meet “The Slum Princess,” a 15-Year-Old Girl Who Rose From Living in Poverty to Hollywood Stardom
Despite India’s efforts to eliminate poverty, a significant portion of the population, approximately 10.2%, continues to live below the poverty line. This backdrop sets the stage for the inspiring story of Maleesha Kharwa, a determined teenager from a slum in Mumbai, whose life took a remarkable turn which helped her and her family to emerge from the slums.
Meet Maleesha Kharwa, “The Slum Princess”.
Maleesha Kharwa, the 15 years old teenager, has spent her entire life in a temporary and poorly built tent house in Bandra, the financial center of India.
Maleesha was born to Gujarati parents in Mumbai. Her father worked his entire life as a clown at children’s events to support and feed the family. However, her life took a dramatic turn after a fortunate encounter.
One of her earlier posts showed her home, a tent set up supported by bamboo sticks and cloth pieces. Living in a slum was tough for Maleesha. Sometimes, they didn’t have clean water or enough food to eat. And there were times when their houses were destroyed by the municipal corporation because they lived near the sea.
“When it is very hot in Mumbai, we have to sleep on the rocks by the water. But none of these things could deter me from going after what brings me joy.” These challenges made their living conditions even more difficult, but they continued to face them with determination.
Happiness was always there for her even among the conditions she lived in.
Maleesha found it strange when people asked her how she stayed happy despite being poor. They believe it’s abnormal to find joy in her situation. However, she loves her life.
According to Maleesha, happiness isn’t brought by a big house or a nice car. What matters most to her is having a loving, supportive family and caring friends. She believes that with hard work, you can achieve anything else.
The day that changed her life forever.
Maleesha Kharwa had always dreamt of becoming a model. It was a dream she held onto tightly for as long as she could remember. And then, three years ago, something incredible happened.
In the midst of her life in the slum, she caught the attention of none other than Robert Hoffman, an American actor who had appeared in the movie Step Up 2: The Streets. “I was fascinated when I met her, she was sitting on a mattress in a makeshift tent. She was so striking.”
The actor described his first meeting with Kharwa as “something out of a movie”. He then detailed their first encounter, saying: “There she stood among a group of slum residents just like any other in the city. But her face was so remarkable I don’t know how anyone could have overlooked her before.”
Even after Robert’s recognition she was doubted by everyone else around her.
Most of the people doubted her due to her poor living conditions and family background. They didn’t even think she stood a chance.
She also talked about this, saying: “I certainly think I am a rulebreaker. Many people thought I can’t be a model because I have very dark skin, but I have proven all of those naysayers wrong. I no longer care if someone tells me that I cannot do something because I know that is not true. Right now, my life is taking me on adventures that I cannot believe.”
Since then, Maleesha has already been offered roles in two Hollywood movies. She has also become the face of a luxury brand called Forest Essentials.
When Maleesha first saw herself as the face in a store, she couldn’t believe her eyes. This encounter was captured in a video and can be seen on Instagram. Her face lit up with pure delight when she saw her dreams finally in reality. Maleesha’s story is a beautiful reminder that dreams do come true.
Mumbai, aka Bombay, is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most crowded city in India with a population of around 22 million. Mumbai is a city of contradictions where extreme poverty exists alongside extreme wealth.