Ekta Choudhury, crowned the Pantaloons Femina Miss India Universe 2009 Sunday, says that apart from the month-long rigorous classes in grooming, fitness and diction for the event, her honesty and never-say-die attitude helped her in winning the title.
"I always believed in myself. I feel that my honesty played a pivotal role in my victory because I always speak my mind and what I believe in," Choudhury told IANS in an interview over the phone from Mumbai.
"Honesty will never let you down. If you are honest and a hard worker, things will definitely fall in place, sooner or later. You just have to believe in yourself. I did that because I knew it was now or never for me," she said.
Standing tall at five feet nine inches, Choudhury, 22, won the title beating 19 other contestants Sunday.
"I was very very excited before the pageant. I had put my heart and soul into it. I knew that the day would never again come and I had no other option but to make sure that I perform. I am glad that my thought process worked," Choudhury said.
"I also knew that nervousness could land me in trouble as I would have given wrong answers or would have fumbled. So, I had to keep calm and the person from whom I have learnt this is my father. He has taught me how to remain peaceful and calm in every situation," she added.
So what did she do to remain calm?
"I was reciting prayers like Gayatri Mantra because it doesn't distract your attention and helps in focusing," she said.
Has life changed after winning this crown?
"Undoubtedly! Today everyone knows my name. No one was bothered about me till today. Even you are interviewing me because of my victory; so, yes, life has changed a lot for the better. The best thing is that all my dreams have come true," Choudhury said.
This Delhiite first dreamt of becoming a model when she saw model-turned-actress Sushmita Sen win the Miss Universe title in 1994.
"That was the first time when I realized that I too want to be there in this profession. I have been modelling for the past two years but I wanted to get familiar with this industry and only after that I wanted to participate in a major event like this. The effort and planning has paid off," she said.
What next after this?
"Now I want to win the Miss Universe title as I have raised a lot of expectations both for my family and my country. I just want to make everyone happy by bringing the crown back home. So preparations for that will start very soon," she said.
Any plans of switching to Bollywood?
"It is too early to talk about this because right now my priority is to win the Miss Universe title. Acting is completely different from fashion and right now I do not have any such plans. Where things will take you, you never know," she said.