Shagun Sarabhai is new Miss India Worldwide
The 20-year-old Mumbai homeopathy student beats contestants from 17 other countries in the diaspora at a gala banquet held in Johannesburg on Sunday.india Updated: Feb 24, 2008 12:06 IST
Bollywood beckons for Shagun Sarabhai, a 20-year-old Mumbai homeopathy student who was crowned Miss India Worldwide at a gala banquet in Johannesburg in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Sarabhai, who had to go through a hectic time packing and securing a visa in just two days after winning the Indian final of the Miss India Worldwide Pageant, beat contestants from 17 other countries in the diaspora as a panel of judges rated their talent, dress sense in Eastern and Western wear, and answers to questions.
Miss India Canada, Uppeka Jain, 24, was the first princess and Sabiha Hussain, 21, from the host country, was crowned second princess.
With several winners of the 17-year-old pageant started by Dharmatma Saran of New York having gone on to Bollywood, Sarabhai is now also excited about that prospect.
"If offers come my way from Bollywood, I'm going to accept them, yes, but I'm also studying medicine and I'll definitely try to blend both," the winner said.
"It was a little harder for me because I arrived a bit later, but I've always said that hard work pays off and this has proved true," said Sarabhai, whose only nervous moment on stage was when the top three were about to be announced from a shortlist of ten finalists.
"The question and answer round is when you're so nervous because you're faced with so much uncertainty about what question the judges are going to throw at you and what sort of answer you're expected to give. The other parts I was quite confident about."
Crying uncontrollably for the first few minutes after being named the winner, the new Miss India Worldwide quickly regained her composure to pose for the large media contingent as her parents who had flown in specially to support her waited in the wings.
Mum Bella, a psychologist, and dad Pratesh, a homeopath were overjoyed at their daughter's success.
But plans for Shagun, an only child, to become a third generation homeopath after her father and grandfather will now take a back seat for a while.
"I think I'm going to take a break from my studies for a while and then get back to it. Right now I'm going to be concentrating on promoting Indian culture worldwide. It's an honour for me to be promoting this noble cause, which is what I came here for."
Commenting on the dance item that she performed, Sarabhai said: "The song that I chose was done by Bipasha Basu in 'Omkara'. It's actually something that the women have to do in the villages in India to make a living. They have to dance in these bars in cholis and ghagras just to make a living."
"It was Shagun's charm, poise and grace that epitomises the essence of the culture of an Indian woman that won the day for her," said the organiser of the event, Farook Khan.
Indian Consul-General Navdeep Suri was amazed at the diversity of talent displayed: "It's clear that where the communities in the diaspora are newer, Bollywood has had a tremendous impact; but in all countries, even where there is a fusion of the indigenous and Indian culture, as some of these young women have shown here today, the essence of their Indian roots remains."
Sarabhai will be taking home with her a package of prizes that includes $5,000 in cash, gold and diamond jewellery, exclusive garments and a laptop computer.