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The hottest DESI GIRLS who rocked our world!

Last updated on: September 17, 2013 12:54 IST

The hottest DESI GIRLS who rocked our world!

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Nina Davuluri became the first contestant of Indian heritage to win the Miss America pageant. After a struggle with bulimia and weight issues, Nina lost 60 pounds before she became Miss New York.

As Nina created history on Sunday, marking a significant shift in the American pageant circuit, we take a look at women of Indian origin who have made a splash at international pageants.

Preeti Desai became the first woman of Indian origin to win the Miss Great Britain title in 2006.

Born and raised in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England, to Hemlata and Jitendra Desai, Preeti worked in the family fireworks business before she decided to make a career switch. When she won, Preeti said she hoped she would continue in showbiz till she hads made enough money to move into property investments, her ultimate goal.

In 2011, Preeti saw her acting debut in Shor in the City starring, among others, Tusshar Kapoor and Sendhil Ramamurthy.

Preeti has been linked with Abhay Deol. She was spotted with him at Esha Deol’s wedding.

Preeti will star alongside Deol in One By Two, an upcoming Hindi romantic comedy directed by Devika Bhagat, the dialogue writer of films like Manorama Six Feet Under, Bachna Ae Haseeno and Ladies vs Ricky Bahl.


Image: Preeti Desai
Photographs: Courtesy Preeti Desai

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Sabrina Houssami

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Sabrina Houssami created controversy when she was crowned Miss World Australia 2006 without competing. Sabrina was the previous year’s runner-up and was handed the crown after local officials cancelled that year’s pageants, claiming they couldn’t prepare the new contestants to participate in the Miss World competition that was rescheduled from December to September.

Sabrina was the second runner-up at Miss World 2006 but won Miss World Asia Pacific title. Eventually, she appeared on the first season of the Australian version of The Apprentice and finished fifth place.

Sabrina who has majored in psychology and English from the University of Sydney has an Indian mother, Alka, and a Lebanese father, Ahmad.


Image: Miss Australia Sabrina Houssami poses during a Miss Beach competition in Sopot, northern Poland, September 7, 2006. More than 100 candidates took part in the 56th Miss World at the end of September in Poland.
Photographs: Katarina Stoltz / Reuters

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Maria Venus Raj

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Maria Venus Raj was named Miss Philippines-Earth and Miss Philippines Earth Eco Tourism 2008.

After being crowned Ms Binibining Pilipinas Universe, she represented the Philippines at the 2010 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas, USA.

Like Sabrina Houssami, the choice of Maria Venus Raj saw controversy. Less than a few weeks after her coronation, Maria was dethroned when officials discovered her father, an Indian, wasn’t married to her mother.

Things became more complicated when it was discovered that her birth certificate showed that her father was registered as a Catholic Filipino.

After she put up a fight the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc that had dethroned her, permitted Maria to reclaim her title on ‘humanitarian grounds’.

She was also required to obtain a Philippine passport as proof of her citizenship which was granted to her by the ‘right of blood’.

Maria is the only dethroned Binibining Pilipinas beauty queen to have her crown reinstated.

At the 2010 Miss Universe pageant held in the US, Maria was the fourth runner-up.


Image: Miss Philippines 2010, Venus Raj, competes in the swimsuit competition during the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant at the Mandalay Bay Events Center August 23, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photographs: Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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Reshma Roopram

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Reshma Roopram was crowned Miss Universe Netherlands 2001. Her parents, who are of Indian origin, hail from the Republic of Suriname and come from a very large family -- her father has some 18 siblings. Roopram was born in Scheveningen, near The Hague.

After participating in Elite Model Look of The Year contest in 1995, Reshma modelled for various companies including L'Oreal and Armani among others while earning herself a bachelor's degree in commercial economics.

In October 2000 Reshma won the Miss South Holland contest and became first-runner up at the Miss Netherlands contest.

In the following April Roopram was crowned Miss Universe Netherlands and represented the country in the Miss Universe contest in Puerto Rico.

Reshma has since travelled around the world and hosted and acted in television shows and soap operas in the Netherlands.


Image: Reshma Roopram, Miss Netherlands 2001, poses while rehearsing May 9, 2001 for the 50th Annual Miss Universe Competition in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Miss Universe 2001 will be crowned on May 11.
Photographs: Reuters Photographer / Reuters

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Tatum Keshwar

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Tatum Keshwar, a model of Indian origin, was crowned Miss South Africa 2008 and represented her country at the Miss Universe (where she was among the top ten finalists) and Miss World pageants (where she was the second runner-up).

She earned a degree in psychology from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and counts yoga, hitting the gym and reading among her hobbies.

More recently, Tatum hosted the South Africa India Film and Television Awards along with Karan Johar and Dia Mirza.


Image: Tatum Keshwar, Miss South Africa 2009, competes in the swimsuit segment of the Miss Universe 2009 Presentation Show at Atlantis, Paradise Island August 15, 2009. Picture taken August 15, 2009.
Photographs: Ho New / Reuters

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Thanuja Ananthan

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Thanuja Ananthan won the Miss World Malaysia crown in 2009. Ananthan an ethnic Indian, was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur and studed law even as she was participated in the beauty pageant.

She counts yoga and gym work outs among her hobbies and is an animal lover.

Thanuja has been the face of PETA and promotes spaying and neutering pets in order to solve the cat and dog overpopulation problem in her country and around the world.


Image: Thanuja Ananthan is an ambassador for animal organisation Peta
Photographs: Nigel Sia/Creative Commons

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Sushmita Sen

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Sushmita Sen became the face of Indian aspirations when she became the first Indian to win the Miss Universe crown in 1994.

Sushmita, who has since made foray into Bollywood, is representative of the new, independent Indian woman. She adopted two little girls, who are now growing into beautiful women and has steadfastly remained single, while continuing to be a committed mother to Renee and Alishah.


Image: Miss India Sushmita Sen reacts after winning the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Manila May 21. At right jubilating is first runner up Miss Colombia Carolina Gomez
Photographs: Erik de Castro / Reuters

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Aishwarya Rai

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When Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was crowned Miss World in 1994, she was studying architecture. After being catapulted overnight to fame, Aishwarya too went the Bollywood route. Her initial outings proved terrible box office disasters.

Eventually, Aishawarya went on to become the number one leading lady in Bollywood and also make a mark in the West as a model.

Aishwarya has since settled into a quiet life of matrimony with Abhishek Bachchan with whom she has a daughter Aaradhya.

She may not be turning out movies the way she did earlier, Aishwarya is a name to reckon with. She continues to remain the face of several international brands and puts in dazzling appearances at Cannes each year.


Image: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan attends the Opening Ceremony at the Palais des Festivals during the 64th Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 2011 in Cannes, France.
Photographs: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

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Diana Hayden

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In 1997, Diana Hayden became the third Indian to don the Miss World crown, after Reita Faria in 1966 and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in 1994.

After she completed her stint as a representative for the Miss World organisation, Diana moved to Britain to study acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art as well as at the Drama Studio London.

Diana entered the Indian television show Bigg Boss Season 2 but was voted out during week 13.

Eventually she went on to write a book called A Beautiful Truth - The Art of Grooming for Women, a comprehensive guide on everything related to personality development and confidence building.

Last heard, Diana was all set to marry her fiance Collin Dick.


Image: Miss India Diana Hayden reacts after winning the Miss World 1997 Pageant November 22. The 24 year old from Bombay was crowned Miss World 1997 in the Seychelles.
Photographs: Mike Hutchings / Reuters

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Yukta Mookhey

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Yukta Mookhey won the Miss World competition in 1999. She hoped to make a career in films.

After trying out her luck in films of at least three languages, Yukta gave up and began running a grooming consulting firm in Mumbai.


Image: Yukta Mookhey runs a grooming consulting firm.
Photographs: Rediff Archives

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Lara Dutta

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Lara Dutta was crowned Miss Universe in 2000. She followed in the footsteps of most of her predecessors and made her debut in a Hindi movie Andaaz along with Priyanka Chopra (her competitor at the Miss India, who went on to win Miss World in the same year as Lara).

While she did walk away with the Filmfare award for the best debutante, Lara failed to ‘make it’ like Aishwarya Rai had and Priyanka Chopra would. Her notable appearances include movies like Masti (2004), No Entry (2005) and Housefull (2010) among others.

Along the way, married the Indian tennis sensation Mahesh Bhupati, became a mum, brought out a DVD on prenatal fitness and turned movie producer with Chalo Dilli, in which Lara also acts and is now planning a sequel.

Whew!


Image: Miss India Lara Dutta, 21, poses during the 2000 Miss Universe pageant at Nicosia's Elletheria stadium May 13. Dutta was crowned Miss Universe 2000, with Miss Venezuela Claudia Moreno the first runner-up and Miss Spain Helen Lindes the second.
Photographs: Reuters Photographer / Reuters

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Priyanka Chopra

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Priyanka Chopra is arguably the only other beauty queen, like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, to have made a smooth transition into Bollywood and survived. At the start of her Bollywood career, after winning Miss World in 2000, it seemed like Priyanka would end up an also-ran like many of her predecessors.

The actress has proved her detractors wrong. Today she is one of the top leading ladies in the biz, gets an almost equal billing with her male co-stars and often calls the shots in an industry dominated largely by men.


Image: Priyanka Chopra is one of the leading actresses in Bollywood today after a bumpy start.
Photographs: Reuters Photographer / Reuters

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Dia Mirza

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Dia Mirza was crowned Miss Asia Pacific in 2000, the same year Lara Dutta and Priyanka Chopra won Miss Universe and Miss World respectively.

She became the first Indian to win the title in 27 years. Dia then did what everyone else before her had done -- surprise, surprise, she joined the films.

After a few notable performances, Dia launched a film production house along with actors Zayed Khan and businessman Sahil Sangha. Their first film Love Breakups Zindagi was released in Oct 2011.


Image: Diya Mirza, Miss Asia Pacific, folds her hands in traditional Indian style of greeting upon her arrival in the western Indian city of Bombay on December 14, 2000.
Photographs: Reuters Photographer / Reuters

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Aditi Govitrikar

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She is the only doctor and beauty queen! Aditi Govitrikar had completed her graduation in medicine before she signed up for the Gladrags Mrs India contest. In 2001, she won the Mrs World contest continuing India’s successful run at international beauty pageants.

This Mrs (Dr) World was the face of several brands including Ponds and starred alongside actor Hrithik Roshan in a Coca Cola commercial.

The stunning mother of two has appeared in several movies as well as on television in soap operas and reality shows including Fear Factor and Bigg Boss.


Image: Aditi Gowitrikar at the Amul Maha Challenge Event
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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Nicole Faria

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We end this list with Nicole Faria who became the first woman from India to be crowned Miss Earth in 2010. Nicole, who has been modelling since she was 15, is now a regular face on the fashion week ramps in India.

Over she years, Nicole has also been featured in several fashion magazines including Elle, Cosmopolitan and Vogue among others. Rediff.com discovered a few years ago, Nicole is almost as good behind the camera as she is in front of it.

EXCLUSIVE: Nicole Faria shoots for Rediff!


Image: Nicole Faria is nearly as good behind the camera as in front of it.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera

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