'A dream does not become a reality by accident, it is the result of sweat, commitment and hard effort.'
Femina Miss India World 2022 Sini Shetty, 21, never thought she would be a beauty queen.
"Looking back and thinking about it, I didn't feel it would be impossible," she says.
It's been less than a week since her win, and Sini still gets goosebumps whenever she wears the crown or every time someone mentions her title.
She is aware that "the Miss India crown comes with a lot of responsibilities" and hopes to make India proud by bringing home the Miss World crown.
Born in Mumbai, Sini has a degree in accounting and finance.
A trained Bharata Natyam dancer, Sini says dance has brought her great joy. She completed her arangetram at 14, and has trained with several hip-hop choreographers.
In a chat with Anita Aikara/Rediff.com, Sini talks about her mother Hema Shetty and how she inspires her, why she is in awe of Priyanka Chopra and what got her excited about the fashion industry.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I look up to my mother. She inspires me to be a better person.
She was a Karnataka state topper, but after graduation she got married and family became her priority.
My brother was born, then I came along and we took up all her time.
One day, during a conversation, she wondered what it'd have been like if she took up a job post her graduation.
At that point, I realised it was not something that she'd planned. It was what somebody else had planned for her.
I told her, 'Why don't you start a hotel? Dad can help you with it.'
So after being a housewife for 20 years, she stepped out to pursue her dream.
Today, she is the MD of a hotel, dad looks after the management, and the two of them have built the entire hotel from scratch.
That's why she is an inspiration for me all day, every day.
What drew you to modelling?
It's a funny story. In college I was a total nerd; a goofy kid.
Once when I was sitting in the library and studying, a lady walked up to me and said, 'You have the height and the body. We need to build your personality and you could be in the modelling world.'
I laughed and told myself, 'What a crazy woman!'
I had to give an exam in an hour, so I asked her to leave.
When I got home, I wondered why I called the woman crazy.
'Why did I laugh? Is it because I think I'm not beautiful enough to be a model?' I asked myself.
I eventually ended up giving her a call and then worked with her for six months on prepping myself for the modelling world.
That's when I got my first modelling assignment at 17.
A beauty queen you look up to?
Priyanka Chopra. I can totally relate to her.
Every place she walks into, she creates an aura that's unmissable.
You have gone from a finance and accounting background to becoming Miss India... does it still feel like a dream come true?
If you'd have asked the five-year-old me 'What would you do in the future', I would have probably said work in a firm.
Again, you know, the most certain thing about life is uncertainty.
Every girl has that dream... when you watch the Miss India pageant on television and see a beauty queen walking down the ramp, you want to be her.
I never thought I'd be a Miss India winner, but now looking back and thinking about it, I didn't feel it would be impossible.
Your most beautiful asset.
My personality and the confidence I wear when I walk into the room.
Your take on the unrealistic expectations in the fashion industry.
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and in your own eyes as well.
When I got my first modeling job and the photographer asked me to face the camera, I was blank. I could not pose.
I could see the other models were ready with poses. But I managed.
I feel it is more about how you carry yourself in front of the camera, than living up to the beauty definitions and standards set by the industry.
How do you stay fit?
Fitness is two parts for me. It's being both mentally and physically fit.
I dance, and as much as dancing is a physical activity, it is also like meditation for me.
A message for young women.
The world tries to define your values in a certain way.
I believe that every girl, or person out there should find their own meaning to it.