Maleesha Kharwa: From Slums to Billboards

Maleesha Kharwa: From Slums to Billboards

Maleesha Kharwa, a 15-year-old resident of Mumbai’s Dharavi slums, has transformed her life and gained prominence as the representative of Forest Essentials, a high-end skincare brand. Forest Essentials unveiled her to the public in March of this year, presenting her as their ‘yuvati’, fresh and young ambassador, symbolizing their connection with the youth.

Indeed, Mumbai is renowned as a city where dreams can come true, attracting individuals who aspire to improve their fortunes and alter their destinies. This metropolis, often referred to as the “city of lights,” has witnessed numerous inspiring narratives of individuals rising from poverty to prosperity.

Among these tales is the remarkable journey of Maleesha Kharwa, emerging from the impoverished Dharavi slum in Mumbai. Her narrative parallels that of a Cinderella fairytale, as she transcends the confines of Dharavi to achieve recognition on the prominent billboards of Mumbai.

Who is Maleesha Kharwa?

Maleesha Kharwa, a 15-year-old, hailing from Mumbai’s Dharavi, has emerged as the representative of Forest Essentials, a high-end skincare company. In March of this year, Forest Essentials unveiled her as their new ‘Yuvati’ or young woman, introducing her to a wider audience.

Maleesha Kharwa: From Slums to Billboards
image source: Cosmopolitan India

This partnership goes beyond Kharwa’s individual achievement, as the brand aims to support disadvantaged children by providing them with education opportunities, enabling them to turn their aspirations into actual achievements.

Following her introduction as the representative of their latest advertising initiative, the company proceeded to conduct an interview with her, during which she responded to a series of 13 inquiries.

Kharwa openly disclosed that Priyanka Chopra serves as her source of inspiration and conveyed her deep admiration for Nora Fatehi’s dancing abilities. Additionally, she demonstrated her preferred dance move and performed a rendition of her beloved song.

Maleesha, a teenage resident of Mumbai’s Dharavi Slum, describes herself on Instagram as someone who embraces her life despite living in challenging circumstances. 

Her aspiration is to become a supermodel in order to support her family’s basic needs.

Every day, this child is getting closer to her dream. Following her appearance on the front page of a fashion magazine, she has now become the representative of Forest Essentials’ new campaign called ‘The Yuvati Collection’ for their high-end beauty products.

The journey started in 2020 when Robert Hoffman, a Hollywood actor, found her while filming a music video in Mumbai. 

He played a crucial role in making her dream of becoming a model come true by creating an Instagram account for her called Maleesha and establishing a GoFundMe page. 

Fast forward nearly three years and Maleesha now has 113 posts on her Instagram account, and her follower count has grown to 230,000.

Maleesha: Forest Essential’s Brand Ambassador

Maleesha became the face of Forest Essentials’ ‘Yuvati’ collection, a social initiative that aims to empower young minds, in April. 

Forest Essentials, the luxury beauty brand, posted an inspiring video of the teenage model on Instagram. The video showcases Maleesha entering the store, where campaign photos of her greet her at the entrance and continue inside. 

Forest Essentials wrote a caption expressing delight at Maleesha’s reaction to seeing her dreams come true, emphasizing that her story serves as a beautiful reminder that dreams do come true and that everyone’s dreams matter.

During an interview with Vogue India, Mira Kulkarni, the creator and primary managing director of Forest Essentials, expressed that their Yuvati collection not only aids Maleesha in achieving her aspirations but also assists Project Paathshala in empowering young individuals. 

Forest Essentials intends to contribute 10% of the earnings from the Yuvati Selection to Project Paathshala, aiming to grant children from disadvantaged backgrounds access to education and foster a brighter future for India.

“Although Maleesha serves as the ambassador for this campaign, Forest Essentials aims to emphasize the concept of dreams. The underlying message is that dreams are accessible to everyone, regardless of their background or the size of their aspirations, highlighting the significance of all dreams,” she further explained.

In another statement, Maleesha expressed that her collaboration with Forest Essentials is her most significant professional opportunity thus far. She emphasized that while she aspires to be a model, her education will always remain a top priority for her.

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