We have seen it happen before and the trend has been continuing vehemently. If you look back in to time, you would find that not one but almost all girls who entered beauty pageants, later paved their way in to Bollywood.
Well, for those of whom it worked, good; while the others just faded away with time. Public memory indeed lasts for a very short time, and they do believe, ‘Out of sight is out of mind’. Let’s take a look at some of the models churned out from beauty pageants - ones who made it and who didn’t in Bollywood.
Zeenat Aman in 1970 won the title of Miss Asia Pacific, after which she tried working in films. Clearly, there was no stopping the gorgeous lady; she went on to become one of the top actresses of her time. With her sexy looks, height and attitude she ruled filmdom.
In 1993, Namrata Shirodkar and Pooja Batra who had tried their hand at modelling, post the beauty pageant entered films. Namrata did a few films during the '90s but soon fizzled out. Pooja Batra failed to deliver any hits and got lost among the many names on the celebrity list.
And then, the year 1994 changed everything. With Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen who won the Miss World and Miss Universe titles respectively creating a huge buzz even before they stepped into films. They were pitted against each other most often; their stardom and popularity made a lot of filmmakers knock on their door. After the pageant they were absorbed by films. And the rest, like they say, is history.
In 1997, Diana Hayden won the title of Miss World. Although she did a few films, the model-turned-actress did not continue for long. Time and again she is seen doing small roles in films, and was seen in Bigg Boss 3 on Colors.
In 1999, Gul Panag won the Miss India pageant. She was among the top 10 finalists for Miss Universe while Yukta Mookhey went on to become the next Miss World for that year. Gul acts in films occasionally but is often seen indulging in a lot of other things like sports, horse riding, playing computer games, etc. Now that’s one with a million talents! Yukta however vanished from the scene after her short stint in films.
The year 2000 witnessed a record breaking event, as India won all three titles of Miss World, Universe and Asia Pacific. Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta and Dia Mirza respectively. They all joined films. Although it took a while to establish themselves in the film industry, the three of them managed to pull it off with ease. And today, Priyanka Chopra is rated as one of the top film actress in the industry.
Although India never won any title after that year, there were many models who’d reached the top 10 finalists and sometimes even to the top 4 namely, Neha Dhupia, Tanushree Dutta and Celina Jaitley. They are currently doing well in Bollywood.
Among the ones who didn’t make it in the modelling world but created a huge buzz in Bollywood was Juhi Chawla and she continues to do so.
After seeing so many examples of super models and pageant winners turning in to Bollywood divas, one would only gather that beauty pageants are indeed a stepping stone to Bollywood. When posed with this question Diana Hayden replied, “For those who wish to enter Bollywood, it is definitely a stepping stone. By succeeding in beauty pageants, they already have the limelight and attention thus making it the best platform.”
Gul Panag however claims that it's not only Bollywood, saying, “Beauty pageants can be a stepping stone to anything – the media, movies, corporate life, public service mainly due to the platform the pageants give. However here, movies somehow take precedence.”
Former Miss India-turned-actress Tanushree Dutta admits that winning a pageant was a stepping stone for her career. “I became a national face after winning the pageant and was recognised by everyone. It was not only a launch pad but also a great training ground, but after that you have to prove your acting mettle because there is no shortcut to success,” she added.
Drawing to a close, we clearly agree and believe that there is no better platform in Bollywood than beauty pageants but the journey ahead clearly depends on talent.
By Letty Mariam Abraham with inputs from agencies