EXCLUSIVE: Manushi Chhillar on her Beauty Pageant Moments: Told parents I was missing college for Miss India
In a tete-a-tete with Miss World 2017 winner Manushi Chhillar, the model and actress recalled some of the most nerve-wrecking moments, her competitive spirit, being Haryanvi and much more. Read on!
When she won the Miss India title at merely 19, Manushi Chhillar had no idea what was in store for her. At 24 today, Chhillar who represented Haryana at the Miss India beauty pageant and took home the title has multiple films in her kitty. For someone so young, there must have been times when the beauty queen felt overwhelmed. "Every day was overwhelming - right from the day I auditioned to the day I won Miss World," Chhillar reminisces.
A moment that she's never going to forget was in China where the Miss World competition was held in 2017, "For that one month, people don't know you by your name, they know you by the country you're representing. I was never called Manushi, I was called India. And the night of Miss World, when it came to 5 of us, by the end of the night, everybody was screaming for India," she recalls.
When she won Miss World, Manushi was only 20. How did she deal with the pressure? "I come from a competitive background. For me, this was like giving my entrance," says Chhillar who was studying to become a doctor before taking home the crown. Despite her competitive spirit, watching other women who had experience with modelling and had previously won competitions, did get to her from time to time. But her way of coping? "I got fortunate because I never got the time to sit and think about it. It all happened so fast!"
But there was a point when the actress felt helpless. "I called my parents and told them I don't know what I'm doing, I'm missing so much college for this and attendance is a big deal!" she exclaimed. So does she consider herself studious? "I've never bunked school. I've been a scaredy-cat all my life! My way of thinking is - what's the point of bunking and going out when you can sit at home and enjoy! I used to love going to school - maybe I was nerdy, I think I still am. And in medical college attendance is important - there's the whole process of being detained and I didn't want to lose 2 marks because of attendance," Chhillar who was studying to be a doctor and whose parents are doctors tells us. We're curious about what her parents had to say, though. "They told me that it was an experience. I could learn from it and enjoy it," she smiles.
The model and actress believes she came from a protected environment and wasn't entirely exposed to the world of glamour, which were instrumental factors in her winning. "I was always considered a strong competitor and maybe that's why I don't have a lot of friends from Miss World and Miss India," says Manushi before adding that she only has good memories. "Even if someone had the intention of bringing me down, out of innocence because I was only 20, I never really understood. I always took things at face value. Also, I'm inherently competitive. And I'm Haryanvi, you can't bully me!"
Despite taking things as they came her way, we are sure Manushi wishes somebody prepared her for something. "I come from a normal family and have only read about actors and beauty queens. Maybe the whole transition would have been smoother and I'd be more politically correct if someone prepared me."
And as far as mistakes are concerned, there's nothing the diva would do differently if given the opportunity to. "I'm a result of all the mistakes that were made. They were learning experiences that got me here," she says adamantly.
Coming back to beauty pageants, there are often misconceptions that these events are trying to fit a woman in a box. Rubbishing that, Chhillar believes that those days are gone. "Today, this is about giving young girls from normal backgrounds an opportunity. I've got the opportunity today myself. I'm doing movies but I could be doing anything else. Another misconception around pageants is that we're dumb. Every woman who's taken home the crown has been very intelligent and witty," she affirms.
And if she were to give some tips to those who were in her place back when she was a 19-year-old girl, what would Manushi say? "Enjoy the process. Don't make winning the primary goal. And people will always tell you what some person did to win, that doesn't mean you have to follow the same formula. As cliche as it sounds, you need to be yourself. You might be doing this for the first time but the people across the table have been doing it for the last 20 years and can see right through you."
According to Chhillar, one common factor among every diva who has taken home the crown so far, from Sushmita Sen to Priyanka and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, is being unapologetically themselves. "That's what being an empowered woman is," she says while mentioning that while she does look up to them all, she does have an affinity towards Rita Faria. "She too was a medical student like me but ended up becoming a doctor," signs off the Haryana-based actress who we're excited to see in her debut, Prithviraj, where she's starring opposite Akshay Kumar!
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