Miss Indias and their Bollywood breaks

The glamorous industry of Bollywood owes a lot to the Miss India pageant. A talent house that has produced some of the greatest stars Bollywood has ever witnessed, it is undoubtedly one of the biggest and best grooming centers.

Nutan and Zeenat Aman were one of the first in the clique of Miss Indias to have successful careers as Bollywood actresses. Nutan won the Miss India title in 1952 and rose to cinematic fame with films like Seema, Bandini and Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki. She won several Filmfare Best Actress Awards was later awarded a Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1974. In 1970, Zeenat Aman clinched the Miss India Pacific crown after finishing third in the Miss India contest. She then grooved to the tunes of Dum Maro Dum for Dev Anand’s film Hare Rama Hare Krishna and went on to win the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. Her unconventionally sexy disposition unsettled many but she did earn a significant place for herself in the world of films. The rest simply followed suit.

Sangeeta Bijlani (Miss India, 1980) started off with television commercial advertisements and then moved on to mainstream films. She had a short but noticeable stint in Bollywood and soon married former ex-captain of the Indian cricket team, Mohammad Azharuddin. The 1980s saw the rise of yet another Miss India, Juhi Chawla. She was and continues to be as vivacious as ever. She has an indefinite list of successful movies to her name.

The Miss India title is not simply about crowning glory. It is, in fact, a key to the door of opportunities and Bollywood seems like the perfect platform to learn, grow and become someone. It has lent a definitive oomph factor to the Indian film industry by alleviating the scope for both beauty and talent.

1994 was a golden year for the Miss India pageant. Sushmita Sen won the Miss Universe crown in Philippines and in the same year, Aishwarya Rai triumphed in the Miss World title in South Africa. Both Sushmita and Aishwarya debuted in Bollywood almost simultaneously (in 1996 and 1997 respectively) and from then onwards, they have only excelled. While Sushmita Sen bagged almost five Best Supporting Actress awards in her acting tenure, Aishwarya was awarded the Filmfare Best Actress Award twice, besides several other national and international recognitions.

The millennium year 2000 was once again notable for India when the country scored a hat-trick at a golden year for India. While Lara Dutta won the title of Miss Universe in Cyprus, Priyanka Chopra clinched the Miss World title and Dia Mirza secured the title of Miss Asia Pacific. A year after the title, Dia made her film debut with Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein opposite R Madhavan, and just three years later, both Lara and Prinyanka made their Bollywood debut in 2003 with the film Andaz, starring opposite Akshay Kumar. Since then, all three of them have won several accolades for their exemplary work in Hindi cinema. Priyanka, of course, has gone a notch higher to make her debut in singing, thus proving an all-rounder side to her charismatic personality.

Miss India has been a stepping stone for many other title winners to try their luck at acting in films. And the trend continues in the present day. Miss India Earth 2012 Prachi Mishra who is busy shooting for her first Bollywood film, Zaalim Dilli, says “When I joined Miss India, the crown was the only thing on my mind. But as things progressed I realised wherever I went, people had started recognising me. They came to know me by my Miss India title and this helps a lot. When I go to meet a director or a writer I am not made to wait. Also, people know that you come from a background as strong as Miss India, so they don’t misguide you or mistreat you in any way.” Miss India Earth 2011, Hasleen Kaur seems to be treading the same steady path to stardom. She too has recently bagged a role in Suneel Darshan’s film Karle Pyar Karle, in which she will be paired opposite the director’s son, Shiv Darshan.

2012 was Femina Miss India 2007 Esha Gupta’s when she appeared in not one, not two, but three films. She debuted with Kunal Deshmukj’s Jannat 2, moved on to Vikram Bhatt’s Raaz 3D and finally Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh. Simran Kaur Mundi, Femina Miss India Universe 2008 made her Bollywood debut with the film ‘Jo Hum Chahein’ in 2011 opposite newcomer Sunny Gill, her next film ‘Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi’ produced by Ekta Kapoor and Bejoy Nambiar is set to release in June 2013.

Other notable Miss Indias who ventured into Bollywood

Meenakshi Seshadri was just 17 when she won the Miss India contest in 1981. Naturally, she was the youngest woman to be crowned Miss India. She is best known for her role in Hindi film ‘Damini’ that went on to become a mega-success and received a number of awards including the coveted National Film Award. Meenakshi won accolades for her versatility and display of varied sets of emotions on screen.

Namrata Shirodkar was crowned Miss India in the year 1993. She represented India in the Miss Universe pageant and finished fifth. She then featured in the Bollywood film ‘Hero Hindustani’ where she was the lead actress opposite Arshad Warsi.

Gul Panag won the Miss India title in 1999, and was crowned Miss Beautiful Smile at the same pageant. Gul too tried her luck in films and her role of an independent Muslim woman in Nagesh Kukunoor’s film ‘Dor’ (2006) was acclaimed critically.

Celina Jaitley won Femina Miss India 2001 and Miss Margo Beautiful Skin; she made her film debut in Feroz Khan’s Janasheen opposite Fardeen Khan in 2003. Celina got married to an Austrian businessman Peter Haag and has twin boys.

Neha Dhupia entered Bollywood after winning Femina Miss India title in 2002. She rose to fame with her role in the film ‘Julie’ where she played the role of a high profile escort.

Tanushree Dutta the bong beauty won Femina Miss India Universe 2004. She made her Bollywood debut in 2005 appearing in ‘Aashiq Banaya Apne’. Here she played a role of a college girl Sneha who was the love interest of the two actors Sonu Sood and Emraan Hashmi.

Femina Miss India World 2004 Sayali Bhagat was cast opposite Emraan Hashmi and Geeta Basra in the Bollywood film ‘The Train’.

Sarah-Jane Dias was the winner of Femina Miss India 2007. She recently appeared in the Hindi movie ‘Kyaa Super Kool Hai Hum’ opposite Ritesh Deshmukh in 2012. Sarah will be next seen in Atul Agnihotri’s next film.

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