On the night of December 17, 2012, Chandigarh played host to the Femina Miss India Chandigarh contest, in which Navneet Kaur Dhillon emerged winner. When asked why, in her opinion, girls from small towns were beginning to bag the limelight in all avenues; Navneet had declined to consider Patiala a ‘small city’, adding as an afterthought: “I am a citizen of the country.
My father is in the army and I call myself an Indian. In the future, I see myself winning the biggest pageant of the world.” Who was to know the pretty girl had just made a prophecy that would turn true in 2013, with her winning the Femina Miss India World title in Mumbai on Sunday.
The victory, it seems, was awaiting Navneet, if one is to go by the claims of her proud parents. A good student who excelled in extra-curricular activities, she would work against all odds to reclaim her dream, they say. “Ever since Aishwarya Rai won the Miss World title in 1994, Navneet, aged just two then, decided she would one day be on the same platform,” recalls her father, Colonel Bharpur Singh, posted in Bhopal, who is currently lending support to his daughter in Mumbai.
Though not a professional model, Navneet first won the Supermodel North Zone 2012 contest held in Chandigarh, catapulting her to the field she had set her eyes on. “In Patiala, she made efforts to work on her wardrobe and body using whatever facilties the city could offer. Through rigorous workouts and a strict regimen that sapped her energy, her confidence never wavered,” says Akwinder Kaur, Navneet’s mother, in Mumbai along with their elder son, Gurjot Singh, who works in Oswal Group there.
Navneet’s friends, meanwhile, remember her as an ambitious girl who was sure she would win the title. Says Abhay Parveen Gupta, a final year student of BTech at CAMS, Punjabi University, who says he is like an elder brother to Navneet, “Being from an army background, she was ambitious. However, she remained focused even after winning the Miss India Chandigarh title, and tried not to miss classes.” Abhay is also the creator and caretaker of Navneet’s Facebook page, he claims, which has received 7,546 likes since her victory.
Prof Gurmeet Maan, director of CAMS, one of those whom Navneet owes her success to, describes Navneet as a “very diligent and hard working student.” “She had been preparing for this contest for the last one year with complete dedication. I helped nurture the girl’s talent by attending special sessions that were aimed at working on her communication skills, body language and even gave her tips on meditation,” he adds. Another of Navneet’s friends, Gavi Singh, an aspiring photographer and her senior at CAMS, says “Her professionalism is apparent from her parting words before leaving Patiala, when she promised she would return with the title and prove her mettle.”
(inputs by Ravinder Vasudeva)