Manushi Chhillar single-handedly gave the country a reason to cheer when she was titled Miss World 2017 in China. The last time someone clinched the crown for India was Priyanka Chopra in 2000. Even as Manushi competed against 108 contestants from different countries, the 20-year-old will let us believe that she is like just another girl who loves reading books and writing poetry. While beauty pageants have been a stepping-stone in Bollywood for several contestants, Manushi aspires to become a doctor. In a quick chat, she answers a volley of questions shot by us with much confidence:
On completing her studies:
When I was prepping for Miss World, I did take a year’s break. Now that I am back, I will continue with my studies. I want to complete and get my doctor’s degree. Before starting my degree in medicine, I remember my father telling me that being a doctor is a lot about being a good actor. Even in a difficult situation, when treating a patient, the most important job of a doctor is to make the patient feel comfortable. And, this is exactly what you need to — you need to put on an act that nothing is wrong with him or her. So I think I will be doing both the jobs.
Bollywood is not on my mind right now. I have no plans of entering the film profession any time soon. Honestly, now, I will be busy travelling across four continents to create awareness about menstrual hygiene.
I dream a dream of meeting Aamir Khan and Reita Faria:
It is my dream to work with Aamir Khan. If ever, I get into films, I would love to work with him. Working with him would give me a satisfaction since his films are not only entertaining but also socially relevant. Reita Faria, who was the first Asian woman to win the Miss World title, is my role model. She was also a doctor. I had emailed her right after I won the pageant, but still am waiting for a response. I hope to go meet her in person.
Her favourite Bollywood actor:
I am not someone who watches films ardently; I prefer reading books. Truth be told, I can’t choose one actor since I think all of them are extremely beautiful. I connect with Aamir a lot since his films are challenging. Among actresses, Priyanka Chopra is my personal favourite.
On Deepika Padukone receiving death threats:
Confidence is a woman’s biggest tool. All Indian women have one thing in common — we face our challenges head on. We women need to be confident of what we do and who we are. We do face a lot of limitations — it is not a women-friendly society, but as individuals, we need to set an example. Women can do amazing things!
‘Don’t give up’
I would advise young girls to never give up on their dreams. I am fortunate that my parents believed and supported me throughout my journey and, I am here because of them. There are girls who face certain inhibitions, but I want to tell each of them — don’t give up. Pursue your dream with courage, and success will come to you.
With great power comes great responsibilities
When you love what you’re doing, nothing is a struggle. This is exactly why I love this phase, and above all, I am enjoying it.
Batting for menstrual hygiene:
After I started working on Project Shakti, I realised sanitary napkins are inaccessible for many young girls. There is lack of access to safe and affordable menstrual hygiene management. I wanted to get women to understand the importance of menstrual hygiene. There is still lack of awareness and I learnt that talking about it was extremely important.
I vividly remember that one of my house help couldn’t conceive because she developed an infection in her uterus during her childhood days. She got married twice and then slipped into depression. We took her to a doctor as well. It is extremely difficult for women to talk about this, hence it was important for me to start this campaign....