10 Indian Beauty Pageant Winners: Then and Now

The epitome of 'beauty with brains', here's a look at India's celebrated pageant winners and where they are now—of course, we have pictures!

06 December, 2021
10 Indian Beauty Pageant Winners: Then and Now

In 1966, India put itself on the world pageant map by bagging its first 'Big Four' title; Reita Faria became the first Asian woman to win the Miss World crown. In the years running, several women have followed in Faria's footsteps, with 2000 being the year India won three major international pageants—Dia Mirza became Miss Asia Pacific, Priyanka Chopra became Miss World, and Lara Dutta became Miss Universe. 

While most of the pageant winners went on to pursue a career in acting, a few chose to walk a different path. From medicine to investing in charitable causes, pageant representatives took over various work fields in the pursuit to contribute to that respective domain; and so they did. Here's a list of beauty pageant winners from our country, where they are now, and what life looks like after accomplishing a big four title. 


Reita Faria, Miss World 1966


Mumbai-born Reita Faria redefines 'beauty with a purpose'. After creating history at the Miss World pageant in 1966, she began receiving offers to act in films. However, she was quick to refuse these lucrative modelling and acting contracts and chose to concentrate on medical studies instead. She completed her MBBS degree at the Grant Medical College and Sir J. J. Group of Hospitals, and further went on to study at the King's College Hospital in London. She also married her mentor David Powell in 1971 and moved to Dublin in 1973, where she set up her medical practice. The 78-year-old continues to live in Ireland with her husband and two children, Deirdre and Ann Marie, and has five grandchildren as well. 


reita faria


Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe 1994


After winning the Femina Miss India Universe title, Sushmita Sen went on to bag the Miss Universe title in 1994. After her reign as Miss Universe, she forayed into acting, making her film debut with Dastak in 1996. It was in the year 1999 that she won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for her role as 'Rupali' in David Dhawan's Biwi No. 1. Since then, she started gaining recognition as a Bollywood actor with movies such as Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? (2005) and Main Hoon Na (2004). It's been 27 years since her pageant win, and Sushmita is all set to star in the second season of the crime-thriller drama series Aarya, releasing on Disney + Hotstar on 10th December. 




Lara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000


Lara Dutta, too, pursued a career in the field of acting post her Miss Universe win. In 2003, she went on to win a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut for the film Andaaz. Over the years, she garnered a reputation in the film industry by working in films such as No Entry (2005), Kaal (2005), and Bhagam Bhag (2006). Lara also revealed that she was offered a role in The Matrix franchise but turned down the offer due to her mother's illness at the time. In 2011, she married Mahesh Bhupathi, an Indian Tennis player, with whom she has a daughter, Saira. On 26th November, a web series called Hiccups & Hookups was released on Lionsgate Play, in which Lara is playing a lead role.




Manushi Chhillar, Miss World 2017


Model and actor Manushi Chhillar was the sixth representative from India to win the Miss World pageant in 2017. Not many are aware that the pageant winner cleared the All India Pre Medical Test (now, NEET) in her first attempt and was pursuing a medical degree at the Bhagat Phool Singh Medical College in Sonipat. However, unlike Reita Faria, she didn't choose to go down the medical path. Manushi is all set to make her acting debut alongside Akshay Kumar in the movie Prithviraj, expected to release in 2022. She will be seen portraying the role of 'Sanyogita' in the upcoming historical drama film. 




Aishwarya Rai, Miss World 1994


After winning the Miss World pageant in 1994, Aishwarya made her acting debut in 1997 with Mani Ratnam's Tamil film Iruvar, a semi-biographical political drama. However, it wasn't until the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999), that she gained popularity. Ever since she has starred in several blockbuster films including Josh (2000), Guru (2007), Dhoom 2 (2006), and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016), more recently. She is married to actor Abhishek Bachchan and has a 10-year-old daughter, Aaradhya. Aishwarya will next be seen in Ponniyin Selvan: I, an Indian Tamil-language epic historical fiction film directed by Mani Ratnam. 




Dia Mirza, Miss Asia Pacific 2000


After bagging the international title, Dia Mirza ventured into Bollywood, acting in films such as Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein (2001) and Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006). More recently, she appeared in a small role in the movies Thappad (2020) and Sanju (2018). The actor has also submerged herself into humanitarian work, speaking on behalf of the environment and climate change; also the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador. Dia Mirza recently welcomed her son, Avyaan Azaad Rekhi, with her husband, Vaibhav. 


dia mirza


Priyanka Chopra, Miss World 2000


This global icon needs no introduction! Since her Miss World win in 2000, Priyanka Chopra has made exceptional strides in the Bollywood—and Hollywood—industries. Adding feathers to her (fully-loaded) cap at every moment, she is a singer, actor, and film producer. After becoming one of the leading stars in Bollywood, Priyanka has set on to take over the West with her brimming talent. She featured in the thriller American web series Quantico, and will soon be seen in the 2021 film, The Matrix Resurrections. The celebrity is married to American singer Nick Jonas and is often spotted with him on the red carpet at international events, award functions, and soirées.




Yukta Mookhey, Miss World 1999


After being crowned as Miss World in 1999, Yukta Inderlal Mookhey involved herself in various social and charitable causes. She has worked for people affected by HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and thalassemia, and has also pledged to donate her organs. She has also spoken out against child labour, has participated in clean drives and social movements to prevent afforestation, and has partnered with an NGO to guide young girls from the slums. At the same time, the pageant winner has also enjoyed her stint at the movies, with her most recent appearance in Good Newwz (2019)




Diana Hayden, Miss World 1997


After her win at Miss World, Diana was signed up to endorse L'Oréal, Colgate, and Chopard in India. She has also been associated with various charities including Child Rights and You (CRY), Greenpeace, PETA and the Spastics Society of India. Soon after her pageant win, she moved to London and studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Drama Studio. She has also written a book called A Beautiful Truth which is an "encyclopedia on grooming and also deals with personality development and confidence building." Diana is married to Collin Dick, an American businessman, and has three children. 




Zeenat Aman, Miss Asia Pacific 1970


After winning her pageants, Zeenat Aman forayed into acting, making her debut with The Evil Within (1970) alongside Dev Anand. Over the years, she has won several accolades for her stellar performances in iconic Hindi films. In February 2020, it was announced that Zeenat is staging a comeback in theatre, appearing in a play on Kasturba Gandhi. In January 2021, it was announced that she would star in the upcoming murder-mystery film Margaon: The Closed File, her first leading role since the 1980s. In the film, which is a tribute to Agatha Christie, she will portray the "head of an Anglo Indian family who is an independent woman, a mother as well as an entrepreneur."