Miss India pageant damaged my self-esteem: Sobhita Dhulipala

Mumbai (PTI): The title of Miss India is touted to be synonymous with self-confidence but former Miss India and actor Sobhita Dhulipala says the process of winning the crown ended up damaging her self-esteem.

The 25-year-old actor said while growing up in Vishakapatnam she was an “uncool geek child, a loner” who had not watched more than 20 films, eight of which were from the Harry Potter magicverse.

Sobhita moved to Mumbai at the age of 16 to step out of her “quaint little city”. When she got admission in a “cool” college here, she appeared with “long oiled hair, floral embroidery dress, bindi and polka dot shirt.”

The actor, who made her debut with Anurag Kashyap’s “Raman Raghav 2.0”, termed her college experience as “brutal” and that was when the need for “seeking validation” seeped in.

“My friend was interning at the Miss India office and asked me to go for an audition. I just wanted to clear one basic round to show it to my friends. ‘I’m in this mind space and I can do this, losers’. I cleared the first round and then I wanted to do more.

“For the first time in my life, I was getting attention.

I was very awkward with myself, I was so lame… But Miss India did more damage to my self-esteem. It took me more away from me because you’re reduced to someone who’s entertaining, who is pleasing,” Sobhita told PTI in an interview.

After winning the beauty pageant in 2013, the model- turned-actor represented India for Miss Earth the same year in the Philippines where she won the sub-titles of Miss Photogenic, Miss Beauty for a cause, Miss Talent and Miss Beautiful face.

She said she struggled to find her real self as the lure of the Miss India tag kept confusing her.

“Earlier, I would never focus on how I looked because I thought I was just ‘ok’. So my focus was on being well-read, good in studies, school captain. My personality depended on what I read, not on some magical genetic thing.

“In Miss India, so much was about how you looked. These are the things I judged as a child. So I felt cornered because I was doing the same things. I didn’t feel good in my heart.”

Asked she continued being a part of something that made her uncomfortable, the actor said, “I wanted someone to make me feel desired, I thought may be guys will like me. I was 19, so validation played a huge role in my taking part in Miss India.

“Miss India actually made me feel small. It made me feel like it doesn’t matter what you feel or think, what sells is beauty and sex, which you’ve no control over. You’re born a certain way,” Sobhita said.

Before she joined the film industry, the 25-year-old also pursued modelling post Miss India but realised she felt “pathetic”.

“It messed with my head. You have a constant identity crisis. You feel like you don’t belong anywhere, like you’re following your ego or the need to feel good about yourself.

Where does that end really?” Sobhita said.

The actor was recently seen in a cameo in Saif Ali Khan’s “Chef” and again features with him in “Kaalakaandi”.

Directed by Akshat Verma, the film is scheduled to hit the theatres on January 12.