Before Manushi Chhillar, Indian Women Who Set Int’l Stage Ablaze
India’s Manushi Chhillar on 18 November won the coveted Miss World 2017 crown at a grand event in China, bringing an end to the country's dry spell of 17 years at the top pageant contest.
India, in the past, has seen Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta, and more winning the international beauty pageant. However, for over a decade, none of India’s representatives won any prominent titles. While we wait for another Indian beauty to be crowned in an international contest, let us rewind and remember those ladies who made India proud at international stage.
Sushmita Sen, renowned Bollywood actress who has starred in movies like Dastak, Sirf Tum, Biwi No. 1 and Main Hoon Na, was the first Indian woman to have been crowned Miss Universe, back in 1994. She was only 18 at the time.
Lara Dutta, who was born in Ghaziabad, was the second Indian woman to be crowned Miss Universe in the year 2000. Dutta too, took to the movies after the win, making her debut with Akshay Kumar in the romantic drama Andaaz a year later.
Reita Faria, a Goan girl who made the country proud by being crowned Miss World back in 1966, was also the first Asian woman to win the event. After her victory, she received several offers for both film and modelling, but she refused them all as her dream was to become a doctor. She finally started her medical practice in 1973.
Bollywood’s favourite, Aishwarya Rai was titled Miss World back in 1994. Often referred to as the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’, Aishwarya went on to become one of the leading actresses of B-town following her win, and starred in several international movies as well. She even won the Padma Shri in 2009.
Three years later, India was proud once again as Diana Hayden beat candidates hailing from across the world, to become Miss World in 1997. Diana had previously studied Acting and Drama at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London, UK. She starred in the movie Ab Bass and participated in the second season of Bigg Boss.
Bangalore born Yukta Mookhey was selected as the winner of the Miss World pageant in 1999, amid 93 other candidates hailing from countries all across the world. Mookhey had a degree in computer sciences and had spent several years training in Indian classical music. After starring in a few Bollywood movies, Mookhey chose instead to focus on social work and politics, and in 2004, became a member of the BJP.
Priyanka Chopra, who is currently setting both Hollywood and Bollywood ablaze with her back-to-back hits, won the Miss World crown in 2000. Following her win, Chopra dived straight into launching her acting career, and today, she is one of the most celebrated international actors in the world. Winning the Padma Shri in 2016, she was also listed by Forbes as one of the World's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2017.