Beauty and the queen

``People take winners of beauty pageants seriously, at least for a year. The simple psychology is that the winner makes heads turn, and she can do a lot of constructive work, at a young age,'' says Neha Dhupia, Miss India 2002.

She was in town to judge the Navy Queen contest, held on Saturday at the Southern Naval Command (SNC) in connection with the Navy Ball. The SNC, where she spent her childhood, is the first place she visited. Her father, Commander P S Dhupia, was working here when she was born, in 1980. The family moved over to Delhi when he got a transfer to Delhi. "The people and place are as warm and simple as then,'' she says, adding that her childhood photos, with the Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi in the background, make her nostalgic.

``Life has changed a lot, before and after I was crowned Miss India. It's all about how one handles it. Peoples' approach and reaction to me has changed. It's not just a question of beauty, the title throws up a lot more opportunities,'' Neha says.

``Malayali beauties, with their dusky complexion, stand a very good chance in beauty pageants and in modelling. The taboo connected with modelling has to go. One thing to remember is that if you don't want people to misbehave with you, they won't,'' she says.

At present, she is working on a movie - Quayamat, where she has stars opposite Ajay Devgan. She also stars in advertisements. As for marriage she says: "No plans as yet. In three or four year's time, if not for marriage, at least I'll get to know someone whom I can... ,'' Neha blushes.

By John L. Paul

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