It’s always a pleasure to find a beauty with brain, especially when it comes to representing one’s country on an international platform. Though its been a long time since an Indian last wore the crown, we take a look at some of the headturing pageant winners over the years.
Reita Faria, Miss World (1966)
Apparently the first ever Indian and Asian to win the crown in 1966, Faria quit the world of glamour after a brief stint in modelling. A qualified medical practitioner, she now resides in Dublin, Ireland, with her husband Dr Colin Powell.
Zeenat Aman, Miss Asia-Pacific (1970)
Zeenat Aman was the first South Asian woman to win the title of Miss Asia Pacific in 1970 and soon after this, made her way to the filmdom as she was introduced by none other than Dev Anand. She earned a lot of accolades for being one of the most sexy actresses, who was known for her bold appearances and glamourous screen presence.
Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe (1994)
Called the dark horse in the contest back then, Sushmita Sen took the everyone by surprise after she defeated crowd’s favourite, Aishwarya Rai, and won the Femina Miss India title in 1994, and consequently won the Miss Universe pageant. “Being a woman by itself is a gift of God which all of us must appreciate. The origin of a child is a mother and is a woman and the woman is the one who shares and shows a man what love, caring, and sharing is all about. That’s the essence of a woman”, was her reply that won her the title. The first ever Indian to have won the pageant, her answer was said to be one of the wittiest answer in the history of beauty pageants.
Aishwarya Rai, Miss World (1994)
On 19 November, 1994, Aishwarya Rai won the Miss World title beating 86 other contestants from across the globe. What really won her the votes was her concern towards the suffering little children, poverty and inequalities of race, colour and sex. With a well-rehearsed speech, she made sure to win both the hearts and the numbers in India and on foreign shores.
Diana Hayden, Miss World (1997)
Interestingly, she came across as one of the most confident contestants of the said year. All of 24 when she won the crown, this beauty from Hyderabad made a victory sign even before leaving for the event and told a designer friend that she’d be back with the crown-and all that goes with it, including the $100,000 (over Rs 37 lakh) prize money.
Yukta Mukhi, Miss World (1999)
Yukta Mookhey was 22 when she was crowned Miss World in December 1999 at the Olympia theatre in London. Just like her predecessors, Yukta too was flooded with acting offers from Bollywood filmmakers, with her eventually making a Bollywood debut in the movie ‘Pyaasa’ opposite Aftab Shivdasani. The movie bombed at the box office and after a failed stint in the world of glamour, Yukta tied the knot with Prince Tuli in the year 2008.
Lara Dutta, Miss Universe (2000)
The dry spell at the Miss Universe pageant ended with Lara Dutta bringing home the crown after almost 6 years of wait. Lara was asked to provide an answer to the protest that was going on at the time, calling the event a disrespect towards women. The lady answered confidently: “I think pageants like the Miss Universe pageant gives us young women a platform to foray in the fields that we want to and forge ahead, be it entrepreneurship, be it the armed force, be it politics. It gives us a platform to voice our choices and opinions, and makes us strong, independent that we are today.”
Priyanka Chopra, Miss World (2000)
Touted to be one of the biggest stars of Bollywood of her times, Priyanka Chopra was crowned Miss World on 30 November 2000. All of 18, the girl never ran out of confidence even then. On being asked what she hoped to achieve through the contest and who was the person living today she admired the most, she said, “I would use the contest as a platform to influence people’s thoughts and actions. Of the living persons today, I admire Mother Teresa from the bottom of my heart for being so passionate and kind – giving up her life to put smiles on people’s faces.”
Dia Mirza, Miss Asia-Pacific (2000)
Dia Mirza was the second runner up at Femina Miss India, 2000 who subsequently won Miss Asia Pacific crown the same year and became the first Indian contestant to win the title in 29 years.
Aditi Govitrikar, Mrs. World (2001)
A model, actress and a doctor by profession, she won the Gladrags Megamodel contest in 1996, followed by Mrs. India and then the Mrs. World pageant in 2001. She tried her hands in Bollywood, but with little success.
Nicole Faria, Miss Earth (2010)
Nicole Faria is the first Indian to win the Miss Earth pageant since its inception in 2001. She won the crown in December 2010, and remains, the country’s only winner of the pageant so far.