India’s Manushi Chhillar, center reacts at the beauty pageant where she is crowned Miss World in Sanya in southern China’s Hainan province, Nov. 18. (Press Trust of India)
It was a moment of overwhelming joy for Manushi Chhillar when she was crowned Miss World 2017, but the beauty pageant winner wishes her reaction could have been “more lady-like” when she won, writes Justin Rao.
The 20-year-old medical student from Haryana says she watched the clip of her victory a number of times now.
In an interview with PTI, Manushi says, “I won’t deny that I’ve seen the video several times. It still gives me goosebumps. (But) I do wish I had given more lady-like reactions. It was something which came out naturally. Now I like to look at it and laugh.”
The pageant was last won by Priyanka Chopra for India in 2000, a year after Yukta Mookhey bagged the crown.
Soon after the victory, Manushi was in the news over Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s pun on her surname, which translates into “loose change” in colloquial Hindi.
“What a mistake to demonetize our currency! BJP should have realized that Indian cash dominates the globe: look, even our Chhillar has become Miss World,” Tharoor had said, creating a political furor.
But Manushi downplayed Tharoor’s comments in her tweet, calling it a “tongue-in-cheek remark.”
Talking about the incident, Manushi says she is happy that people got an insight into her sense of humor.
“Miss World victory is something very personal to me. But everyone has their own sense of humor and you’ve social media where everyone has their own opinion. I was happy I could give people an insight into my sense of humor,” says Manushi.
Her win triggered a war of words between former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the incumbent Manohar Lal Khattar over honoring Manushi.
Hooda’s suggested the state government should offer Rs 6 crore and a plot to honor state-born Manushi for bringing the title home.
Khattar objected to Hooda’s suggestion, saying “his thinking is confined only to plots and cash. One should think above all this.”
Commenting on the same, Manushi says, “I think it is absolutely up to my state as to what they want to give me or not. I am just happy I could give them this moment of victory.”
She believes her win will bring focus on Haryana.
“There is already so much positive change that has been happening. The khap panchayat in my ancestral village has abolished the practice of firing at weddings.
“I am just a 20-year-old normal girl but knowing that I can do such things, it’s very enriching for me.”
Manushi says though she did not stay in Haryana—she grew up in Delhi and Bengaluru—the outlook towards Haryanvi women is slowly evolving.
For now, Manushi wants to focus on her life as Miss World but she does not rule out the possibility of entering Bollywood.
“There have been offers from Bollywood but as of now I’ve not really committed to anything. I really want to explore my life as a Miss World and live that moment first.
“After this one year, I have to complete my education.
But I am not really thinking about it. I would never rule out any opportunity completely. I’d be a fool to do that,” says Manushi.