Lara Dutta believes it's crucial for a person to be strong to survive in Bollywood, pageantry or modelling world as it requires nerves of steel to navigate the ups and downs. Lara will mentor contestants for LIVA Miss Diva 2020, which will feature young aspirants from across the country competing for the title. The actor, who was crowned Miss Universe 2000, said one "needs to be strong" to make it through the pageantry.
"Today, whether it's pageantry, surviving in the modelling business or entering Bollywood, I don't think you'll survive if you're not strong as a person. The idea is not just to train these girls but also to provide them an ecosystem which gives them the support they need. To create a sisterhood with few past pageant winners. So that when they go through experiences, they understand that they aren't alone," Lara told PTI in an interview.
The actor said aspirants today seem to be "far more armed, savvier" than what she or other Indian pageant winners like Priyanka Chopra and Dia Mirza were. "That has got to do with the social media influence. So they have access to a lot more information, have far more experience and are exposed to more things than we were. We came in as 18-19 year olds, barely out of school or college.
"The girls today have access to tutorials, most of them have also taken some grooming classes. Every girl who comes in is beautiful, so it's not about changing the way they look but more about instilling a confidence in them, an ability to break the stereotype of how a beauty pageant winner ought to be described," she added.
Lara, 41, said the myth of how a pageant winner has to be needs to be "shattered". "A lot has changed from the way a stereotypical beauty pageant winner was described. We need to teach these girls to step out of their comfort zones, to be able to shatter the myth of what a stereotypical beauty queen was supposed to be. In order to that, they need to have a voice of their own and the ability to express it."
India won its Miss Universe crown 19 years ago, with Lara being the last winner. Asked why the country hasn't seen more winners since then, the actor said because between the years 1994-2000 "we had so many winners, we thought this was a cup of tea."
"We don't see the other side, that France had to wait almost 54 years, Philippines waited 30 years before they had their winning spree. You have more than 100 countries competing... even internationally what they're looking at is constantly evolving and changing.
"Even if we think we may have cracked the formula, when we go in there, it's a complete surprise to us because then they're looking for something entirely different than what they were looking for in the last five years," she added.