Beauty queens who stumbled in the alleys of Bollywood...


Beauty and brains, they were blessed with both. Ample confidence and perhaps talent, too. However, films are another ball game altogether, as these beauty queens discovered, probably to their shock and disappointment. Blame it on a combination of bad luck and lack of adequate opportunities, their careers simply didn’t soar like some of their contemporaries’ did…

Sushmita Sen

The first Indian woman to win the Miss Universe crown in 1994, this stunner with the 1000-watt smile never quite lived up to her potential in the film industry. Just three films that can be counted among her commercial successes – Aankhen, Main Hoon Na and Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya – critical acclaim was marginally easier to come by with Filhaal..., Samay: When Time Strikes, Chingaari , Zindaggi Rocks and Aag. However, the last was way back in 2007. The industry has clearly never given this head-turner her due, as a performer.

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Celina Jaitly

Winner of the Miss India crown in 2001 and fourth runner-up at Miss Universe, she made her debut in Feroz Khan’s thriller Janasheen. However, as part of ensemble casts in films like No Entry, Tom, Dick, and Harry and Golmaal Returns, the offers soon dried up for this light-eyed beauty, who today lives with her husband and three children in Dubai. She remains a vociferous human rights activist for the LGBT community.

Neha Dhupia

Not fitting into the typical mould of the Hindi film heroine, this Miss India title winner (2002) had a rocky run in films. Dabbling in Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam language cinema, she was relegated to supporting roles in films like Chup Chup Ke and Singh is Kinng. To her complete credit, she changed the rules of the game with her no-holds-barred podcast, ‘No Filter Neha’, and is considered the talk show tsarina of today.

Dia Mirza

Winner of Miss Asia Pacific (2000), this Miss Beautiful Smile did not find much reason to flash her pearlies during her Bollywood innings. Despite a note-worthy debut in Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, her films like Dum, Deewanapan, Tumko Na Bhool Paayenge and Tumsa Nahin Dekha – A Love Story, failed to establish her as an actress of repute. Better known today for her social work, she also co-owns a production house, with husband Sahil Sangha.

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Diana Hayden

Crowned Miss World 1997, the title of her debut film, Ab… Bas proved prophetic – it was pretty much a no-show for her in Hindi films from then on. After studying acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she even appeared in the film version of Shakespeare’s Othello in South Africa. Co-hosting Miss Europe twice, a wild card entry to ‘Bigg Boss’ Season 2, and penning an encyclopedia for wannabe beauty queens are among her other claims to fame.

Yukta Mookhey


For a beauty queen who won the Miss World 1999 pageant, she had a disastrously short stint in the film industry. An item number in a Tamil film, followed by her flop Hindi film debut Pyaasa, tailed by two more duds, and it was pretty much curtains for this Bangalore beauty. Her marriage to a New York based businessman ended in a bitter divorce in 2014, with her filing a domestic violence complaint against him.

Tanushree Datta

This Miss India, 2004 made her Bollywood debut in Chocolate, followed by Aashiq Banaya Aapne, which was a box office success. However, the glamour world proved to be too tough for this Bengali beauty, who was also a competent singer. Eventually, she chose to renounce the travails and traps of filmdom to allegedly become a sanyasi.

Sonu Walia

Miss India, 1985, her lip-locks in Akarshan gabbed eyeballs, even as she picked up the Best Supporting Actress Award for Khoon Bhari Maang, starring Rekha and Kabir Bedi. Television helped fill in the void caused by the lack of film offers, with the long-running tele-series ‘Mahabharat’ and ‘Betaal Pachisi’. Widowed in 2010 after her husband succumbed to kidney failure, her stint in film production has not been exactly successful either.

Pooja Batra

Her big win as Miss India, 1993 helped her bag a role opposite Anil Kapoor in Virasat. Since then, she worked in over 20 films including Haseena Maan Jayegi, Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya and Kahin Pyaar Na Ho Jaaye. However, never quite managing to make the A grade, she settled for matrimony till her 8-year-old marriage to LA-based orthodontist came apart. Life didn’t turn out as perky for this Liril girl, who had made a splash with her impromptu soapy shower.

Gul Panag

Crowned Miss India in 1999, she veered towards offbeat cinema with films like Dhoop, Dor, Manorama Six Feet Under, Hello, Straight, and Ab Tak Chhappan. Better known for her support of causes such as gender equality, education and disaster management under the umbrella of the foundation which she runs, she last made headlines as the Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Chandigarh in the general elections, 2014.

Sarah Jane Dias


By the time she won Miss India in 2007, she was already a model, VJ and TV host. The win brought her a launch in a Tamil rom-com, and Hindi films like Kyaa Super Kool Hai Hum which got her noticed, followed by O Teri and Zubaan which probably ring no bells at all. Part of Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy’s House, she would probably do better concentrating on roles in the West – B-town doesn’t appear too keen.

Simran Kaur Mundi


A guest relations executive, she went on to clinch the Miss India crown, 2008. Her Bollywood film debut Jo Hum Chahein failed to make an impression, but she faced better luck with her Punjabi and Tollywood film debuts. Ekta Kapoor’s Kuku Mathur Ki Jhand Ho Gayi did nothing to boost her prospects, though she was seen opposite Kapil Sharma in his debut, Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon. The future does not appear too bright for the Punjabi lass at this point in time.