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Kerala girl, international horizons

NOTHING CAN cast a shadow on the oomph and style that she flaunts. Not even the used hotel bed sheet that she nonchalantly drapes around her bare shoulders as she glides across the lobby. Serious beauty aficionados have sneered at her simple looks in the past but Shweta Vijay, reigning Miss India Earth is not one bit ruffled. Dusky, with the most captivating almond shaped eyes she overrides public opinion that full bodied and buxom shapes are out and petite is in. "I'm a Malayalee for God's sake and I love my rice and sambar. Why have we forgotten that the typical Indian beauty was corpulent and stout? But girls like Bipasha Basu and Sameera Reddy are putting that right," she gushes.

A proud native of the State she recently went to Guruvayoor where she offered thanksgiving and prayed for future successes (like the forthcoming Miss Earth contest to be held in Manila this year). Shweta was in town along with Miss India-Universe and Miss India-World to inaugurate a jewellery outlet.

How has life changed for you in the past year?

It's been luxury all the way. I've moved from economy to business class and couldn't have asked for more. The best part is the travel, meeting people, being respected and moving from a mere model to celebrity status. Money is no problem now and after struggling for months in aggressive, heartless Mumbai, life is starting to look up. My schedule is hectic with print shoots, photo shoots and inaugurations thrown in. Taking part in the contest was like graduating from a finishing school for free. The topmost in the field are bending over backwards to bring out the best in you and fix the flaws. And yet, what counts is your stage presence, which no one can teach you. The winning factor is your experience and the Femina Miss India-Earth title was not the first that I had won. I've grown up in Dubai and it was there that I won the Miss India-UAE contest. I was sent to participate in Miss India Worldwide to New York where I came 4th. With these titles in my pocket work started rolling in. I gave up my job as assistant manager to singer Sukhbir and started walking the ramp and doing shows and shoots in Mumbai. Well-known choreographer Prasad Bidappa felt I stood a good chance and suggested that I compete for the Miss India title. Rest is history.

What are the factors that hold back a girl from Kerala in the world of fashion and modelling?

Six of my model-friends are from Kerala. But the truth is, there is little scope for the profession in the State. Exposure is vital and for this the girls have to step out of here. The people's mindset is still too traditional and there is far too much opposition all around. Parents don't instil that kind of confidence in their children. Having said that I have to admit that strong family support is imperative in the world of fashion and beauty. It's amazing how well appreciated a typical Malayalee look is. The soot-black tints and the natural perm of their hair and the dark, exotic skins are being wooed all over the world. I was fortunate that my parents are a broad-minded couple and if they had not moved out of Pallakad-Trichur when they did I am not sure I could have achieved my dreams.

Are you going to walk the path of those before you? Does Bollywood beckon?

Right now my eyes are set on the contest in Manila. Everything will change this way or that after November 9th. If I win the title, my next year is booked. If not I've collaborated with a London wear house and plan to design clothes. Even though I haven't done a course, I feel I have a natural flair for designing. Offers for movies are trickling in and who knows what opportunities life can throw up?


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