Her head held high

FOOD FOR THOUGHT Niharika Singh: 'You need to eat to burn fat!' Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT Niharika Singh: 'You need to eat to burn fat!' Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.  

She may be a bit too short to make an impression on the ramp. But Miss India Earth Niharika Singh carries herself with confidence and looks great on camera

I do not see how a woman coming out of the sea in a bikini is entertaining. I would NOT do something like that Niharika Singh Niharika Singh calls herself a "camera baby", and looking at luminescent Miss India Earth, it is not difficult to guess why the camera loves her. "I am too short (5' 5.5") for the ramp," she says with a rueful smile. "That is why I have always been on camera!"And nobody is complaining. She has graced the telly with music videos for Lata Mangeshkar, Jagjit Singh and Babul Supriyo apart from commercials for Milk and Roses soap, Sony Wega, Samsung and Asian Paints. Though Niharika, a Virgo, wishes she were "more focussed like Leos", there seems to be nothing directionless about her life. "I needed to be independent. I started modelling after my 12th Standard (which she passed with 82 per cent) in my hometown in Dehradun. I moved to Delhi and worked there and then moved to Mumbai when I was 20. When I told my parents that I wanted to move to Mumbai, they were a little worried but were thoroughly supportive. I have been working in Mumbai for the past three years. My sister, who is studying, stays with me. I take care of home, cook and do everything. The feeling of independence is something else."Niharika has a "why not" attitude to the Bollywood-beauty queen connection. "I am very particular about what I do. I would not do something just because it is the in thing. I did not do sleazy music videos when that was the norm. So I would like to do something meaningful in films. I am a total film buff and watch movies every Friday - first day, last show. I like movies to be entertaining. I do not see how a woman coming out of the sea in a bikini is entertaining and there is no way I would do something like that. I am very scrupulous about the products I endorse - if I were to endorse tobacco, then tomorrow there will be people who will feel it is okay because I am doing it."An avid reader, Niharika insists: "Ayn Rand helped me win the crown. The question was which is my favourite book and I said Fountainhead. I love the book for its philosophy. At present I am reading Monica Ali's Brick Lane."Niharika feels the seamy side to the beauty business, where you have a Kate Moss snorting coke, exists only in the international scene. "Modelling in India is still rooted in tradition. Here modelling means wearing beautiful Ritu Kumar or Tarun Tahiliani creations or doing some cute soap or cosmetics ad where you look pink and pretty and hold a flower. I don't think drugs is there in the modelling scene in India and hope it never comes in." We shall not talk about a certain Mr. Bidappa! While commenting that modelling is not a high-pressure career, Niharika insists: "The competition is fierce. Everyone thinks this is a very glamorous profession. Hey, working out two hours a day is not glamorous! Nor is subsisting on salads and soup so cool. It is hard work and there are zillion models waiting to step into your shoes so you should always be on your toes."Niharika's beauty secrets are exercising when she can. "I do not diet. That is one thing I learnt during the one-month training for Miss India. You need to eat to have the energy to burn the fat. You have to eat well to stay fit." Just pass the double cheeseburger!To those in the State capital who have endured bone-rattling potholes on our many roads to hell and done Rip Van Winkle waits at traffic jams, Niharika's kind words about Bangalore would come as a shock - and that's an understatement. Niharika clarifies: "Believe me, if you come from Uttranchal and Mumbai, Bangalore's roads seem like paradise!"We take your word for that, lovely lady! MINI ANTHIKAD-CHIBBER

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