Petition to Make Amruta Fadnavis Maharashtra’s Michelle Obama


Petition to Make Amruta Fadnavis Maharashtra’s Michelle Obama

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

In June last year, Amruta Fadnavis, the “First Lady” of Maharashtra dropped a music video that did the unthinkable: It made Ananya Birla’s singing debut sound as melodious as Lata Mangeshkar. Amruta, aka Maharashtra-chya Michelle Tai Obama, made good on her lifelong aspiration to be our Indian Idol with her singing debut, “Phir Se”.

In the heavily auto-tuned number, Amruta essays a singing underdog struggler, one among the many auditioning to land a chance to perform at the Royal Opera House. Because of her coy nature, or maybe because of the awful dungaree-beanie combo from 2002, she is underestimated by all her fellow strugglers. Take a wild guess who the judge is? Here’s a clue. He proves the Bollywood adage: “You either die a Shahenshah or live long enough to be forced into doing a cameo in the CM’s wife’s singing debut.”

Amitabh Bachchan, who graciously took time out of his intense tweeting schedule, doesn’t have a lot of hours to spare, so obviously all the auditions last barely 10 seconds before Amruta slays the competition and gets to be on stage. How could she not? Her USP is channelling a five-year-old girl, and that obviously impresses Bachchan. But he also has some feedback, that is well under 280 characters: “Can you perform while you sing?” Coy as ever, she hesitantly tells him that her “style is a little Indian” but encouraged by India’s greatest tweep, Amruta launches into a dance that eloquently mixes cringe and second-hand embarrassment. Once she has been anointed, though, she shows her true colours which include throwing juice on the very girls who mocked her and dreaming of a romantic dance sequence with Bachchan.

And now, like a true activist, Amruta Fadnavis has taken up the noble cause of urging Mumbai’s citizens to do more to save the city’s four rivers

The very unforgettable song and its wholly unnecessary video ends with a deep quote: “Dreams do come true.” At first pass, it’s easy to dismiss this as the meditative thought of someone with privilege and the key to the CM’s heart and wallet. But in the last one year, Amruta Fadnavis has time and again gone out of her way to prove her dedication and loyalty to being the Maharashtrian Michelle Obama that the state needs, deserves, and will probably have to tolerate for the next few years.

When Barack Obama’s presidential term came to a tearful end last year, it was also accompanied by the crushing sadness that Michelle Obama would no longer be our First Lady. It was a tough time because for us, who pledge allegiance to the United States of India, they were the couple that had it all. Michelle specifically had set the gold standard for being the epitome of grace, humility, and all-round coolness. It also helped that she possessed the most beautiful wardrobe.

For a while, it looked like she would be irreplaceable, but unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Amruta Fadnavis was readying to be her worthy successor.

It started with small incidents: Paying her respects and accepting a gold chain from a self-styled godman. When she got trolled by anti-superstition activists, she offered a foolproof excuse reiterating that she only accepted the chain out of respect for his age. She followed it up on International Yoga Day by attempting to do yoga with 650 children of farmers who had commited suicide. Proudly stating that yoga and meditation would relieve them of stress like acute poverty, loss of a parent, and even lack of access to schools and jobs, Amruta brought about a touch of sensitivity in this cruel world. It was a defining moment for Indian politics, where a CM’s wife was actively putting time and effort into the betterment of society – possibly even more than the hon’ble chief minister himself.

Amruta Fadnavis

Amruta Fadnavis’ singing debut also features a dream romantic sequence with India’s greatest tweep, Amitabh Bachchan.

Image credit: T-Series

After slowly but steadily gaining street cred, Ms Almost M’Obama delivered the coup de grâce at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Haterz will tell you that she wasted precious primetime coverage of the developments at WEF by distracting an India Today anchor with waffles, her rendition of Arijit Singh’s songs, and a snow fight. But, at this point, that seems to be a small price to pay. After all, which power wife can boast of walking in heels in the snow without slipping, even once? I bet Michelle Obama herself might also falter.

And now, like a true activist, she has taken up the noble cause of urging Mumbai’s citizens to do more to save the city’s four rivers: Mithi, Poisar, Dahisar, and Oshiwara, with the Mumbai River Anthem. Sung by her and Sonu Nigam, the music video features Maharashtra’s power couple swaying to music against what was once a chroma backdrop,  Photoshopped with footage that is clearly not from Mumbai. In an old interview, Amruta, had gone on record saying that she never lets her husband sing as he sounds like he is reciting a poem. If the video is any evidence, that seems to be the case with Devendra Fadnavis’ lip-syncing as well. Let’s just say his award-worthy expressions could put non-actors like Tusshar Kapoor out of business.

Haters will again cry hoarse about Amruta Tai wasting precious public resources, the taxes filed by India’s hard-working citizens, to further her singing career that could include replacing Sonu Nigam as the judge of Indian Idol. But again, isn’t that a small price to pay for a woman who saves rivers wearing a saffron-coloured tasseled dress even as her husband’s political party is out to destroy the environment? This is called lending your voice to your beliefs, and believe it or not, Amruta Fadnavis is the closest we’ve got to our own Michelle Tai Obama. She might not have the talent or the husband, but she definitely has the swag. Jai Maharashtra!