(Image source from: Images Dawn)
Indian actress Priyanka Chopra was not the apparent choice for the Miss India title in the year 2000 as one of the panel members felt her skin color was "too dark", says a new book on the star who celebrated her 36th birthday on Wednesday.
Priyanka took part in the beauty contest-Femina Miss India 2010 from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh when she was 17-year-old and came out as a runner-up.
Lara Dutta, an Indian actress has crowned Femina Miss India Universe, while the second runner-up Indian model Dia Mirza won the Femina Miss India Asia Pacific title.
In a biography of Priyanka Chopra: The Incredible Story of a Global Bollywood Star, Pradeep Guha, who was one of the mentors of the contestants for that year's competition, recollects how one of the jury members was unsure about Priyanka.
"Not everybody in the jury was initially in favor of her. One person mentioned she’s too dark," he recalls, without naming the jury member.
"I said, 'Yaar come on'-look at South American girls. They keep winning and some of them are pretty dark as are all the girls from Africa. So I said what are you talking about?"
"I was always very certain about her and as I said this woman never made a mistake twice," Guha is quoted in the biography by Aseem Chhabra. "She kind of always improved on herself day on day. I knew that she would give in 200 percent if she gets in," Guha says in the Rupa Publications book.
Guha says he was impressed with Priyanka from the first but for some ground, she did not come up as the "obvious choice" although she grew through the contest.
He added saying: "I think she needed a little more confidence. I think she wasn't quite sure initially whether this was the thing she wanted to do. She came in a bit tentatively. By the time the contest started, she seemed a lot more collected and definitely more confident of herself."
When the outcomes were proclaimed, there was a tie between the crowning contestants Priyanka and Lara. Guha and Saran had gone through a similar situation in 1994 with Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai.
"This time, they were better prepared and additional questions were posed to both Priyanka and Lara. The final results were no surprise to anyone. The suave, elegant well-spoken Lara Dutta won the Miss India title," the book says.
Priyanka has managed to form an international career and is now one of the most recognizable Indian faces working in Hollywood.
The actor, in past interviews, has spoken about facing issues due to her complexion even within her "Punjabi family."
By Sowmya Sangam