Until a year ago, Manushi Chhillar was like any other college-going student, one who was studying MBBS from Bhagat Phool Singh Government Medical College for Women in Sonepat. She attended classes, made rounds at the hospital for practical sessions and studied hard to eventually become a cardiac surgeon. A year later, the 20-year-old not only wrote history by winning the Miss World 2017 title, but also fulfilled a teenage dream.
Born on May 14, 1997 in Rohtak, Manushi loved wearing fashionable clothes and putting her creativity to the test as a child. “Manushi used to take out old and discarded clothes from her grandmother’s almirah and drape them over her dresses, and also on her doll’s. Then she would come to us for our opinion,” recalls her maternal uncle Sandeep Sehrawat.
While the love for fashion continued, it was ultimately her poise and style that made her stand out from the rest. What made her everyone’s favourite in the end was her whole-hearted commitment. “She was very focussed in whatever she did. She would study with dedication, and when she was not studying, she would keep herself busy with other things,” says grandfather Chander Singh Sehrawat.
Her mother left no stone unturned in honing her skills and introducing her to a variety of activities to keep her busy. “When she was eight, she and her sister were introduced to painting. Manushi’s mother got them colours to keep them busy,” recalls grandmother Savitri Sehrawat.
This introduction to painting was just a beginning. Manushi developed an interest in it and continues to pursue it even without any formal training. She also acquired training in martial arts. At seven, she became a Delhi state champion in martial arts and got a prize for Best Action in the sub-junior category. For a short while, she learnt Kuchipudi from legendary dancer Radha Reddy.
Manushi was drawn towards poetry, which has now become a passion. Her roommate, Smriti Khasa, who has read Manushi’s poems reveals, “Most of them are about her mother, whom she considers her mentor.”
Manushi’s biggest strength is her focus. It is this single-minded focus that has helped her achieve her dreams so far and that includes topping the class XII English CBSE examination.
Even though she followed her parents’ footsteps after school, she began whole-heartedly to prepare for the beauty pageant at 16. “She was very conscious about how she looked and what she ate. She would ask her grandmother if she was beautiful and whether she was eating right to keep her skin flawless,” says her grandfather Chander Singh.
Friends recall that despite studying for MBBS, her interest in wearing fashionable clothes and becoming a beauty queen continued unabated. “She loved to discuss which beauty queen had graced which magazine’s cover, and showed an interest in becoming one herself and posing like those who had been featured,” says Khasa.
It was clear early on that other than medicine Manushi was interested in a host of activities. Far removed from a nerdy doctor in the making, she was the life and soul of social events in her college. She won applause and eyeballs when she did a belly dance at a freshers’ party there. “She was not trained for it, but learnt it by watching online videos,” shares classmate Varsha Dhaka.
No stranger to beauty pageants and titles, Manushi won the Miss Bombshell title at the college party. Last December, she won the Miss Campus Princess title in the medical college. In April this year, she won the Miss Haryana title, followed by the coveted Femina Miss India title in June.
She worked hard to get the Miss World. Fashion, grooming, hair and make-up, physical fitness – she went through the grind to get the crown. One of the things she had to sacrifice along the way was her favourite motichoor laddu. The sacrifice and the dedication paid off.
Read more : Jewels in the Crown