Dharavi’s Maleesha Kharwa Story Is Just One Among Many Others From Mumbai’s Slums, Explore Kids From Dharavi That Found Spotlight

Stories from Society By Uma Nagar | 4 min read

Maleesha Kharwa Story

Slums of India are the place where the sun does rise but light doesn’t reach. People live under extreme conditions of poverty without any hope of a bright future. But there are few individuals, especially kids whose innocent wishes and dreams create magic and capture the spotlight. We all know one such slum kid who became the princess of slum.

I hope you remember Maleesha Kharwa, the Princess of Slums who rose to fame and became an overnight sensation. Today, Maleesha Kharwa story is an unending source of inspiration and hope to those little kids in the slums who dared to dream but never received their chance. 

Maleesha Kharwa story
Source- Instagram

Well, Maleesha Kharwa story transports us to the time when a few slum kids came into the spotlight and made history for India. Some of them won Oscars and talent dance shows in America. Does someone strike in your mind? When I said about Oscar and talent dance shows. 

Let’s read further to unravel these hidden gems of slums and their stories that resemble Maleesha Kharwa Story. 

1. Inspiring Maleesha Kharwa Story

At the age of 14, Maleesha Kharwa, a slum kid from Dharavi became an instant sensation. Maleesha’s joyous and striking smile not only brightened her parents’ lives but also became the beam of hope for the other slum kids. Unfairly, these slum kids go unnoticed. But Maleesha’s unwavering love for her not-so-happy life shined on her face. Despite the gloom, her bright and joyous smile made her stand out and she became the model for the luxury brand “Forest Essential”, “Yuvti Campaign”.

Maleesha Kharwa Story
Source- Instagram

Maleesha Kharwa story of becoming a model began when her captivating smile was noticed by the Hollywood actor, Robert Hoffman. He was impressed by Maleesha’s zeal to live and fulfil her dreams of becoming a model and dancer.

Today, she is a popular child model and the most happening face of a luxury beauty brand “Forest Essentials’. Even she has become the cover model for many famous magazines such as Cosmo India. She has also been featured in a movie, “Live Your Fairy Tale.” In her interviews, she states that she feels strange when people ask her how she is such a happy person despite being poor but she loves her life no matter how it is.

Maleesha Kharwa Movie
Source- Instagram

Her biggest achievement is that she is now able to fulfill the basic necessities of her family. They have now a cemented home, three times food and no shortage of water and electricity. Maleesha Kharwa and her story is an assurance that dreams do come true and miracles do happen when one has a heart filled with love for all the aspects of life.

2. Kisbu, a Balloon seller girl from Kerala

Just like Maleesha Kharwa story of becoming a model,

Kisbu, a balloon seller girl also became a model after her one ordinary and strikingly beautiful picture went viral. Her picture was clicked by the wedding photographer, Arjun Krishnan who spotted her on the street of Andalur during the Andalur Kavu festival in Kerala.

Kisbu, Balloon seller girl
Source- Instagram

Arjun has mentioned how Kisbu’s innate beauty got so much appreciation from the audience and received so many likes. So, he decided to do a makeover photoshoot of Kisbu which opened the door to opportunities for her. Just like her beautiful features, her name “Kisbu” is also unique which means successful and joyful.

Source- Instagram

Just like Maleesha Kharwa story, this slum kid’s life was changed with her one viral picture as she also got featured in a Malayalam music video.

3. Saniya Mistri Qayamuddin – Hijaab wearing Teen Rapper

Another story but a little different from Maleesha Kharwa Story,

Saniya Mistri Qayamuddin is a 16-year-old talented teen rapper who hails from Dharavi. She is the little kid with a dream as she started writing poetry at the age of 8. But three years back, when she saw Gully Boy, a story of rappers from Dharavi. She knew that “her time will also come.” After getting inspired by that movie, she decided to hone her rap skills at the free classes at Dharavi Dream Project.

Saniya Mistri Qayamuddin, Rapper
Source- Instagram

Saniya lives in Govandi, a village of around 100,000 people renowned for heaps of sewage and rubbish scattered about and high rates of crime. She lives in a 12-foot by 12-foot hut built of tin sheets and mud. Saniya doesn’t step out without her hijaab but for her dreams, she decided to step out with her hijaab and build a unique identity called as “A girl who raps in hijaab.”

Gully girl, Saniya Mistri Qayamuddin
Source- Instagram

She has her own YouTube channel under the name, Saniya MQ with 13.4k subscribers. Her raps are mostly about her life in the slums and the challenges faced by the people of the slums. She got undue recognition when she performed on the Television show, “Hunarbaaz.” Since then she got the title of “Gully Girl.” Now, she also showcases her talent in poetry shows like “Spill Poetry.”

4. Rubina Ali, The face of the Oscar-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire

Before Maleesha Kharwa story became popular,

There is one hidden gem, Rubina Ali Qureshi aka Rubina Ali who played the role of a child version of Latika in the Oscar-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. Coming from one of the slums of Mumbai, Rubina rose to fame with the success of Slumdog Millionaire. She also attended the 81st Academy Awards and won the Silver Guilds Award for her role.

After the success of her movie, She was also cast in another movie, “Kal Kisne Dekha” which also featured Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla in cameo roles. Now she is lost in the fumes but her life has become much better. There are many achievements in the basket of Rubina.

Rubina Ali, Slumdog Millionaire
Source- IMDB

At the age of 9, she wrote a book “Slumgirl Dreaming” in July 2009, documenting her life and her experience filming Slumdog Millionaire, making her the youngest person to write a memoir. She studied fashion design at a university in 2020 and worked part-time at a makeup studio. In 2022, she launched her own beauty salon in Mumbai. She is aspiring to be a hair and makeup artist.

Rubina Ali’s story is definitely remarkable just like Maleesha Kharwa story.

5. V-Unbeatable, A Dance Crew from Mumbai’s Slums

Maleesha Kharwa story wasn’t just about her dream of modeling but she also stated that she wanted to become a dancer too. Although she is at her beginning stage of fame.

There is one dance crew, V-Unbeatable with a team of 28 members between the age of 14-27 years old. These team members belong to the slums of Mumbai.

Source- Instagram

This dance crew was founded by Omprakash Chauhan and Vikas at a park in Mumbai’s Bhayandar district. As words of their story spread, many youngsters joined them. The group, then known as Unbeatable, was known for its energetic dancing moves and acrobatic acrobatics.

V-unbeatable at American Got talent
Source- Instagram

They have won the International dance show, “America’s Got Talent” and have participated in many dance reality shows. After their AGT win, this troupe is going to perform in Dubai’s Global Village.

Along with Maleesha Kharwa story, the stories of these slum kids are also worth remembering and inspirational. There are many resemblances between these stories and Maleesha Kharwa story. In the future, we hope that more slum kids like Maleesha receive such opportunities and that many stories like Maleesha Kharwa story emerge worldwide.

Feature Image- 1, 2, 3

If you like these inspirational stories of Slum kids, then read about Transformed Life Of 500 +, Tiny Miracles: One Dutch Woman’s Effort To Solve Poverty In Mumbai Without Charity

If you know about more inspirational stories about a person, company, new idea, or social initiative, and want us to write it on mad4india.com, share such information with us on InstagramFacebook or LinkedIn.

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