Banker, singer, social activist, and Maharashtra CM’s wife Amruta Fadnavis is spearheading a talent hunt for underprivileged children
Mitti Ke Sitare, Amruta Fadnavis’ brainchild, is India’s first musical reality show for underprivileged children aged between seven and 15; 18 children will participate in the finale to be held in Mumbai on June 22.
Talent hunts are a dime a dozen across India, but this one’s special: it aims to scout for underprivileged children with musical flair and ability.
The brainchild of Amruta Fadnavis, banker, singer, social activist, and the wife of the Maharashtra Chief Minister, Mitti Ke Sitare is India’s first musical reality show for underprivileged children aged between seven and 15 years. The show is spearheaded by Divyaj Foundation, in association with Mpower.
The talent hunt had three rounds of auditions, which involved scouting for the best from a massive pool of 1.2 lakh children shortlisted from 1187 Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and slum schools in Mumbai. In round one, 6,000 students were identified to participate and upload their recorded audios/entries on servers provided to these respective schools. As many as 527 students were selected for the second round; of these, 54 students were selected by a board of evaluators appointed by Divyaj Foundation. These students were further evaluated in round three and subsequently 18 finest performers were selected to perform at the grand finale.
The grand finale of the talent hunt will be held on June 22 at The Dome, NSCI Worli. It will be judged by renowned people from the musical fraternity, and talented children are likely to be offered many opportunities to perform and be part of events after the event.
Speaking to HerStory on the initiative, Amruta Fadnavis, a trained singer herself, says,
“Mitti Ke Sitare is not just a talent hunt but a vision to impart musical training to underprivileged children who have the talent and inclination towards music. They have the talent, but not the direction and sadly, live a hand-to-mouth existence. Their talent fades away because it is not nurtured. We aim to do that.”
Confidence to face the world
Mitti Ke Sitare has on-boarded a number of professionals for this event, including musician Shankar Mahadevan and his Shankar Mahadevan Academy for vocal training, Mickey Mehta for holistic fitness training, and Mpower for mental health training.
The show focuses on the holistic development of each child’s talent. As Amruta explains, “To sing is not just to use your vocal chords or attempt a particular genre; it’s also about developing confidence to face the world. We teach the children meditation, help them to be physically fit, concentrate well – all these will help make them great performers. We have been training them for five months now and hope to see some rock stars at the finale.”
While the response to the talent hunt has been overwhelming, Amruta and the team also faced some scepticism from parents.
“There are parents who still rely on their children to work and bring home money; they were not happy with their children being away for a competition. But again, we also have stories like the one of a little girl with a single mother who was struggling to make ends meet, but very happy about her daughter being given such a huge opportunity,” she says.
Being the change
Amruta also throws light on the activities of the Divyaj Foundation, which she is an adviser to.
“Though I have not started the Foundation, it is in line with my vision for social change. I support a lot of foundations in their social endeavours and Divyaj is one of them. It supports my visions for a better tomorrow and implements them. Mitti Ke Sitare is one of them,” she says.
Other social initiatives that Amruta is a part of include village development and tackling the issue of malnutrition in Palghar area. She is bringing together CSR agents and NGOs to tackle this issue.
Women’s empowerment is also high on her list. “We have been facilitating the rehabilitation of acid attack survivors by providing them jobs and also helping them start out on their own. Our aim is to rebuild their confidence. We have had the support of celebrities like Sonali Bendre and Vivek Oberoi for this,” Amruta adds.
Striking that balance
Amruta is Vice-President, Corporate Head with Axis Bank; a passionate singer, a social activist, and also helps her husband Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in his many initiatives. How does she manage these diverse roles?
“I think we must look up to our mothers to understand how to manage work and life. They are the best multi-taskers,” she says. “And, let’s not forget the common woman of Mumbai, who wakes up early, does all the work at home, gets on to a crowded local train for work, is busy in office, then gets back home, and does all the chores and looks after her children. She is a true inspiration.”
Amruta believes prioritising work, having a trusted support system, and time management helps her to take charge, every minute, every day.
On women’s rights, Amruta is emphatic that it’s a “collective fight”.
“We should not look at this individually, but as a whole. We have to be equal to men. If you want a place in Parliament or the government, don’t ask for reservations. I believe quotas should exist only for the financially down-trodden. Strong women should work their way up.”
“I am with my husband when it comes to women’s empowerment, through and through. If women need help, I am there, we are there, we will stand by them,” Amruta says.