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Maleesha Kharwa reflects on what happiness means to her and the concept of 'Yuvati' in Ayurveda

She is brimming with potential and dreams.

You’ve seen her looking beautiful, both in simplicity and with her model persona on. Her Instagram page is filled with her bright smile, with each picture having so much life in it. Maleesha Kharwa, is a teenager, a model, a girl with a million dreams and one brimming with potential. She is often called the ‘slum Princess’ by many and was discovered by actor Robert Hoffman, when he was in Mumbai, India shooting for Step Up 2: The Streets.

Ever since then, there’s been no looking back for Kharwa. In a conversation with Cosmopolitan India, Kharwa spoke about her journey, and what happiness means to her and reflected on the concept of ‘Yuvati’ in Ayurveda.


Cosmo India: At what point in your life, did you decide you want to be in front of the camera?

Maleesha Kharwa: I cannot remember how young I was when I knew that I wanted to be a model and a dancer. I knew that because I am dark-skinned, people did not think that I could become a model. But I didn't care and told them, I will make this happen!  

CI: How would you describe how you felt when you got your big break?

MK: It felt unreal! Sometimes, even today, I find it hard to believe that this is happening. But, my daddy always tells me that being happy is the most important thing. That is why, I can just be very happy and enjoy my crazy dream life! 

CI: What aspects of modelling do you find the most challenging—and which ones do you love the most?

MK: Sometimes when I have to study, but there is also an important shoot on the same day, it can get frustrating. Also, if it is a very very long day with too many outfit changes, I get a bit tired but still have fun!


CI: How did your life change? Do you get treated differently by people around you?

MK: I think for my friends maybe because they find it hard to believe. Of course, my family's behaviour didn't change. They are very happy that now always we will have food. Often, someone on the streets will ask me to take a photo with them which makes me feel shy but it also feels nice.

CI: Everyone has dreams and aspirations—what can keep you motivated to push forward despite obstacles?

MK: I think that it is very important to make sure you have fun every single day because if you think you will be happy only after your dream comes true then maybe you don’t know how to be happy when the dream is coming true.

CI: What does happiness mean to you?

MK: My family and my friends are most important. They are 'happiness' to me. But also, I love judo and I love riding a bicycle and running. I am the fastest runner in my class!


CI: You are presenting the Yuvati collection by Forest Essentials. How do you feel about this and which products do you swear by?

MK: I can tell you the truth that only now I have started to learn about skincare because before I didn’t have money to be able to try it. But now that I am very excited, I will learn how to take care of my skin with some very nice products from the Yuvati collection by Forest Essentials.


CI: You’re so young and you’re blossoming—looking gorgeous, and making your dreams come true. What does the concept of ‘Yuvati’ in Ayurveda mean to you?

MK: For me, I think it’s very important that we teach the girls of the world that they are very special and very powerful and that now we tell all the young women that the world wants them to be strong and free so that they can choose their happiness. And, of course, it makes me very happy to be associated with a company that cares so much about healthy and natural products!

CI: What is next on the list of your goals?

MK: Of course, first is that I want to get a good education and be an inspiration for many young women. Then, I want to do more modelling for very nice brands so I can use some money to bring "The Maleesha People" to life. It is an idea my manager and I had, which involves a program that helps people with big dreams. They can write a letter and we will pick one person every time and we will then help to make their dream come true! I am very excited about this and so is Robert (Hoffman).

We spoke to the representatives at Forest Essentials for more details on the Yuvati collection and we're glad to find out that a percentage of the proceeds will go to Paathshala, which helps rural children get access to education. "Forest Essentials, we truly believe in the potential and grassroots empowerment of our large youth and rural population. The education of a child is of utmost importance to ensure the development of the nation. We started Paathshaala as a partnership with the NGO Simple Education Foundation (SEF) in July 2016, our ‘One School-One Village’ project in rural Uttarakhand. The core philosophy behind this initiative is to strengthen academic learning in this rural school community and to provide the opportunities and exposure that puts them on a path of student leadership. The focus is also to engage and empower the local community and family members of the students, to be more involved and responsible for the quality of the school. Focusing on the holistic growth and development of the entire school, the program is designed to empower the stakeholders (teachers, students, and parent community) with the knowledge, skills, and mindset needed to take ownership of the process of transformation inside the school. The vision is to give rural students the same kind of exposure and opportunities to a quality-learning environment as their urban counterparts," the brand rep explained.