New Delhi, Feb 8 (IANS) Dream of a big Bollywood break but daddy's not a film star? Well, your best chance of a breakthrough may be via a beauty pageant.
Many stars in Bollywood, including Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra and John Abraham, have gone down this road and carved out successful careers for themselves.
Former Miss India-turned-actress Tanushree Dutta admits that winning a pageant was a stepping stone for her career.
"I became a national face after winning the pageant and was recognised by everyone. It was not only a launch pad but also a great training ground," Dutta told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
"This does help in entering the (film) industry but after that you have to prove your acting mettle because there is no shortcut to success," she added.
Zoya Akhtar's directorial debut "Luck By Chance", which took an insider's look at the film industry, pointed out that to get a lead role in a movie one either has to be a star kid or else a model who has won a beauty pageant.
Actor-turned-director Deepak Tijori agrees and says winning a pageant gives recognition but one has to utilise the opportunity in a "wise" manner.
"Winning a title brings unknown faces into the limelight, which in turn helps them in building their career. Media is such a strong medium today that you are bound to get attention and such attention really helps only if used wisely," Tijori said.
Actors like Sushmita Sen, Dino Morea and Rajniesh Duggall have respectively titles like Miss Universe, Gladrags Manhunt and Mr India which helped them realise their Bollywood dreams.
These days many modelling agencies like Elite Modelling Agency and Shoot Talent Management are helping Bollywood aspirants fulfil their dreams.
Shoot Talent Management's business head (north) Sonia Karan Dikar told IANS that it was a natural progression for most models to aspire for Bollywood.
"Modelling gives you fame but not as much as Bollywood and today's generation wants to become famous and earn money very quickly. This can happen only when you are a well-known face or a celebrity," Dikar said.
"Winning a title helps in giving you global exposure that in turn gives you good opportunities and assignments."
Mehar Bhasin, who also runs a grooming and modelling academy, Mehar Bhasin Academy, agrees with Dikar and says that a grooming or modelling school does wonders to improve the overall personality of anybody.
"Winning a title definitely helps in boosting the confidence of the aspirant and the fact that you are already groomed also saves a lot of energy and efforts for directors as they know that you can confidently face the camera," Bhasin said.
Talking about the advantage winning a title has had on his career, Mr India Rajniesh Duggall told IANS over phone from Mumbai: "It takes a person three steps ahead of where he is. It helps him in crossing basic hurdles like directly meeting a producer or director rather than waiting in long queues. But at the end of the day what matters are the choices that you make in your film career."
Duggall added: "The Grasim Mr India title helped me to the extent that any producer I wanted to meet used to call me directly to his office whereas at the same time if my friend approached the same producer, they used to make him wait for at least a month."
But model-turned-actor Rahul Dev dismisses the idea that a majority of the actors who are doing well in the tinsel town are winners of some title or the other.
"All actors in Bollywood are not necessarily winners of any pageant or title. There are some (pageant winners) but they too have worked hard to reach where they are," Dev said.
"Winning a title gives you media attention. And the way you are projected on screen, the perception of the whole world about you changes," he added.