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A glorious tradition

First it was Reita Faria who did India proud in 1966. And after Aishwarya Rai won the Miss World title in 1994, it virtually let the floodgates open. Diana Hayden in 1997, Yukta Mookhey in 1999 and Priyanka Chopra in 2000 followed in quick succession. In exclusive interviews, Yukta and Priyanka told us what it means to be a world-winning beauty.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2004 20:00 IST

First it was Rita Faria who did India proud in 1966. And after the doe-eyed Aishwarya Rai won the coveted Miss World title in 1994, it virtually let the floodgates open. Diana Hayden in 1997, Yookta Mookhey in 1999 and Priyanka Chopra in 2000 followed in quick succession. Two world-winning beauties told what it means to hold the country's flag aloft.

Priyanka Chopra (Miss World 2000)

"Winning the title is of course a dream come true for every girl who enters the pageant. Like every year, the competition was fierce in 2000 too, more so because everyone wanted to win the first contest of the New Millennium. Fortunately for me, it all went well. Besides talent, it requires months of gruelling practice and professional counselling to hone your ability to handle difficult situations at the pageant. One needs to be practical and down-to-earth in each round. But apart from all your preparations, I agree luck has a major role to play in the eventual outcome.

It is not unusual for the most well prepared participants to get the shivers in the final moments. I would be lying now if I say I too wasn't shaking in my shoes. In fact many people are curious how I managed to win the title despite goofing up in the final question-and-answer round. But they forget that I did well in most other things and had a pretty good run throughout the contest. My Army background, support from family and friends and the unstinted love of millions of countrymen helped me become Miss World and I will be forever grateful for that.

I still remember how my phone kept ringing for days after I won the title - everybody who had my number wanted to ring me up and congratulate me. Success at Miss World is therefore not yours alone - every man and woman in this country takes pride in your achievement and shares in your moment of triumph."

Yookta Mookhey (Miss World 1999)

"It feels terrific to be one of the four models who brought the Miss World title to India in the 90s. Besides my eternal gratitude to friends, family and everyone else who supported me throughout the contest, I also want to thank my teachers who taught me the basic values of life. Apparently they taught well and it stood me in good stead when the expectations of an entire nation rested on me. I would also like to mention here my mother who runs a grooming workshop and father who runs a garments-export business. They kept me clued in to the beauty industry and fashion trends and without them I would never have got as far as I did.

The contest certainly wasn't easy - imagine 93 young women, all brimming with confidence, all eyeing the crown. I remember desperately praying as I stood alongside Miss Venezuela Martina Thorogood and Miss South Africa Sonia Raciti in the final round. Both were as capable of winning the title and it was sheer luck that made all the difference in the end.

I certainly think the competition is getting tougher day-by-day. More than winning or losing, it's about doing your country proud. But despite all this effort, it is quite upsetting when people say this is a perversion of Indian culture. Can't they see it's just as important for Indian women to make their mark at international beauty pageants as it is for them to prove their worth in other spheres of life?"

YearPositionMiss India
2002SemifinalistShruti Sharma
2001Non semifinalistSara Corner
2000WinnerPriyanka Chopra
1999WinnerYukta Mookhey
1998Non semifinalistAnnie Thomas
1997WinnerDaina Hayden

19963rd runners upRani Joan Jeyraj
1995Non semifinalistPreeti Mankotia
1994WinnerAishwariya Rai
1993Non semifinalistKarminder Kaur
1992Non semifinalistCeline Shyla
1991SemifinalistRitu Singh
1990Non SemifinalistNaveeda Mehdi
1966WinnerReita Faria

First Published: Dec 06, 2003 14:09 IST