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Amisha Patel educates through song

By Upala KBR, Mid-Day
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Amisha Patesl has just returned from doing shows in the Fiji Islands. She's now immersed herself into an NGO called PlanetRead, which helps people in villages to learn reading through film songs.

How did you get involved with PlanetRead?
A year ago, a professor from Tuff University in Boston (where she graduated from), Scott Norton, called me and told me about PlanetRead. I heard the concept and really liked it. It's education through the visual medium and songs, more like karaoke but with a purpose!

What's your role at PlanetRead?
People from all walks of life endorse the NGO. I am a Bollywood personality and my film's songs have been popular, right from Kaho Na Pyaar Hai. So I've shot a promotional documentary for them to get more people involved. I'm more like an ambassador for the NGO.

What is your level of involvement with PlanetRead?
I'm in constant touch with Professor Scott Norton and others related to it. I believe in education. Because of poverty, there is no emphasis on education in our country. Many children are deprived of their childhood because they have to work.

I believe every child in India should at least have primary education. They should know how to read, write and be aware of documents they sign. This NGO helps people get educated free of cost. It's like watching TV. This system is into mass education, so you watch songs and learn the alphabet.

How was your trip to Fiji and Sydney?
In Fiji Islands, every single person knows about Bollywood. They have two Bollywood radio stations, and you get to watch all the TV soaps there. Fiji was great fun because you don't miss India when you are there.

I had gone to perform in shows in Fiji and Australia with Sunidhi Chauhan, Shaan and Lalit (Jatin-Lalit). The shows were 100 per cent full. What was good in Sydney was that 30 per cent of the crowd was Australian, and were there to enjoy Bollywood's songs and dances.

You were very unwell there.
I developed a lung infection that started with a cold. I have been taking injections every alternate day for the past five days and am on strong antibiotics, but I'm getting better now.

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