Beauties all, these stunners also had the brains and the drive to make the most of their big wins. While most beauty pageant winners in India generally use their victory as a stepping stone into modelling and from there, into films, not all are successful. However, be it Aishwarya Rai or Priyanka Chopra, they have not only made their mark in the film industry, but have used their popularity and influence for the greater good. Today, they are so much more than just a beauty queen…
Crowned: Miss World, 1994
Achieved: One of the most popular and influential celebrities in India, she has received numerous awards and accolades, including the Padma Shri by the Government of India. ‘The Most Beautiful Woman in The World’ has a host of memorable films in her kitty - Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas,
Chokher Bali, Raincoat, Guzaarish, Jodhaa Akbar, and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Goodwill Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), she was also the first Indian actress to be a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival.
Crowned: Miss World, 2000
Achieved: One of India's highest-paid and most popular celebrities, lining Chopra’s shelves are a host of awards, including a National Film Award, and a Padma Shri. Performances in Fashion, Kaminey, 7 Khoon Maaf, Barfi!, Mary Kom, Dil Dhadakne Do and Bajirao Mastani, are testimony to her powerhouse talent. Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, she has been India’s most successful export to the West. Forbes listed her among the World's 100 Most Powerful Women in 2017; she also featured on the Forbes list of 10 highest paid TV actresses in the world.
Crowned: Miss India, 1980
Achieved: The poster girl of Indian commercials in the Eighties, her beautiful face and graceful demeanour sold every product from Nirma washing powder, Vicco and Campa Cola, to Ponds talc and Graviera Suitings! Post her Bollywood debut in 1988 with Qatil she went on to do blockbusters like Tridev, Hathyar, Jurm, Yodha, Yugandhar, Izzat, Lakshman Rekha and Jurm.
Crowned: Miss India, 1984
Achieved: A leading actress from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, Juhi’s comic timing and lively screen presence saw her achieve instant fame with the highly successful tragic romance Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988). The hits have been many - Swarg, Bol Radha Bol, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Darr, Deewana Mastana, Yes Boss, while her work in offbeat cinema is of special interest. She is also involved with social and humanitarian causes.
Crowned: Miss India, 1993
Achieved: A model, actress and producer, she is best known for her works in films such as Kachche Dhaage, Ezhupunna Tharakan, Vaastav: The Reality, Pukar, Astitva, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, LOC Kargil and the crossover film, Bride and Prejudice, which did particularly well in the UK. She also handles the Marketing for her Southern star husband Mahesh Babu’s home productions.
Crowned: Miss India, 1981
Achieved: One of the highest paid actresses of her times, this ‘Stunning Angel’ as she was called by her Tamil fans, had considerable range, be it comedy, drama, action or romance. Standout performances in films like Hero, Bewafai, Meri Jung, Swati, Ghayal, Damini and Ghatak, to name a few, established her as one of Hindi cinema's leading actresses. She runs her dance school in the US, and was also the subject of a documentary, Meenakshi Accept Her Wings.
Crowned: Miss Universe, 2000
Achieved: The second woman from India to be crowned Miss Universe, she has been the only one from India to win the crown since. A successful Hindi film debut with Andaaz, was followed by top-grossers such as Masti, Kaal, No Entry, Bhagam Bhag, Partner, Housefull, Don 2 and Singh Is Bliing. Critical appreciation came her way for her performances in Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Billu, Chalo Dilli and David. A film producer with husband Mahesh Bhupathi, she is also popular for her yoga videos.
Crowned: Miss India International, 2007
Achieved: The sultry stunner made her acting debut in the 2012 thriller Jannat 2, which won her a nomination for Best Female Debut. She received praise for her performance in the political drama Chakravyuh, and has tasted real box office success with Raaz 3D and the suspense thriller Rustom. Her bold photo shoots and unconventional attitude guarantee constant attention.