An actor, model and philanthropist, Manushi Chhillar made everyone stand up and take notice when she wore the 2017 Miss World pageant crown. She was also awarded the Beauty with a Purpose Award for her philanthropic initiative, Project Shakti. With a vision and mission to support women’s welfare, Chhillar started Project Shakti in 2017 to educate women about the importance of menstrual hygiene management and provide greater access to feminine hygiene products in India. Manushi has also partnered with UNICEF India to raise awareness for both menstrual hygiene and AIDS, as well as with UN Women on their #BuildBackBetterAndEqual campaign to speak up on violence against women. As an actress, Chhillar signed a three-film deal contract with Yash Raj Films and made her acting debut earlier this year in the period drama, Samrat Prithviraj. We speak to Manushi on her modeling and acting career and more in this exclusive interview for Provoke Magazine.

1. When and how did you realise that this is what you want to do?
When it comes to acting, change was very circumstantial for me. I believed in going with the flow and I believed in the uncertainty of life. So, I don’t think there was a moment of realisation that this is what I wanted to do but I was very sure and happy about what I was doing when I started preparing for my first film. I really enjoyed the process and that’s when I felt confident about doing films.

When it comes to winning Miss World, I had always been fascinated with the idea of representing my country on a global platform. It truly intrigued me by the way the contestants presented themselves and the impact they made on people’s lives through their work. This motivated me to give pageantry a shot and I decided to sign up for it. And whatever happened after, has just been a dream for me honestly.

2. What are the hurdles you had to face to reach where you are today?
My life has been filled with hurdles that I have had to overcome, and I continue to face obstacles even now. I was raised in a completely different world, far removed from the glitz and glamour of the film industry. This presented not only a shift in the type of people I interacted with but also a dramatic change in the nature of my work. Transitioning from aspiring to be a doctor to pursuing a career as an actor was an intimidating leap. Consequently, my life underwent a drastic transformation from being a student to becoming an actor. Today, I have gained a certain level of popularity, and people recognise me, which is a substantial change. However, accepting and adjusting to this transformation was not an easy task. Although I wouldn’t categorise it as a hurdle, it required a great deal of effort to acclimate to this new reality. Even now, I continue to face my own set of challenges.

3. Please share some of the highpoints of your journey so far.
There have been numerous highpoints in my life that I hold dear and cherish deeply. Firstly, passing my medical entrance exam on my first attempt stands out as a significant milestone. It was a testament to my hard work and determination.

Winning the Miss World title was an unforgettable experience that truly transformed my life. It opened countless doors and presented me with incredible opportunities that I could have only dreamed of. I vividly recall the moment I signed my first film. It will forever remain etched in my memory as a truly special milestone in my journey.

As an artist, finding happiness and validation when my work is recognized and appreciated by my directors or choreographers brings me immense joy.

Certainly, one of the highest points in my career was being given the opportunity to become the Global Brand Ambassador of an international beauty brand. Being associated with such a legendary and prestigious brand has been an extraordinary experience. It has marked a significant milestone in my professional journey and continues to be a source of immense pride.

4. What in your view did you have that gave you an edge over others in the pageant? Which language comes closest to your heart?
What gave me an edge was the fact that I was myself. I was not trying to be like anyone else. In order to stand out, it is important to be honest about who you are. You also need to be unique, and I think you can only be unique when you are being yourself. There is no one else like you – this is what I truly believe in.

My ultimate goal was to become Miss World, and this ambition remained steadfast even during my participation in the Miss India. I do acknowledge the presence of numerous blessings that seemed to align in my favour, contributing to my success. What set me apart, however, was my authenticity and the sincerity with which I expressed my thoughts and beliefs. I always speak from the depth of my heart and I believe that stands out.

For me, language revolves around the essence of communication. Regardless of the language used, authenticity and honesty are the key components that truly emanate from within. I firmly believe that speaking sincerely is the most effective means of conveying messages and connecting with others.

5. It’s not easy the way we women juggle around so many things- our work, homes, families, social life, fitness etc. Some tips on how you like to balance it all. Would you like to share something more about your personal life that many out there don’t know and may want to know?
As we juggle numerous roles and responsibilities in our daily lives, I’ve learned to take one day at a time. I used to be someone who planned everything in the long term, with a three to five-year plan, but life does not work like that. Now, I balance my life by focusing on my career while also spending ample time with my loved ones. I’ve realised that prioritising my inner happiness is crucial to my well-being, and I make a conscious effort to do things that bring me joy.

6. What is your fitness and wellness mantra?
I try to work out at least five days a week. It keeps changing, but lately I’ve really been enjoying resistance training. I like to spend a minimum of one hour in the gym which varies depending on my schedule for the day.

7. What is your fashion quotient?
For a casual day out or a weekend outfit, I prefer a basic white cotton dress paired with a decent pair of leather flats. When it comes to a glam look, my go-to is a black bodycon dress.

8. What is your take on women standing up for each other, especially in the glamor and entertainment industry?
Women supporting each other is of utmost importance, particularly in the entertainment industry. It fills me with deep admiration when I witness women uniting, offering support, and collectively addressing shared challenges. We all encounter similar hurdles and obstacles, and the fact that we are not alone can have a transformative impact. Through mutual support and encouragement, we can foster a positive and inclusive environment where everyone can flourish. I firmly believe that when women rally together, remarkable things can unfold, resulting in a truly empowering experience for everyone involved.

9. Please share all the details that many entering the pageant may want to know and some fun incidents on the days leading to the finale?
I have so many details to share about my pageant days! When I first entered, participation was open to all and there were auditions conducted across different cities. It’s worth noting that prior extensive experience is not a prerequisite to compete – I had no formal training. The pageant encompasses various stages, with the goal being to represent oneself at Miss India. Winning the Miss India title was a vital step towards qualifying for Miss World.

Nevertheless, the entire experience was truly extraordinary. We participants had received ample guidance, training, and opportunities to delve into the intricacies of the pageant world. It serves as an excellent platform to connect with other exceptional women, bolster self-confidence, and refine grooming skills. If you’re contemplating about entering a pageant, my advice is to seize the opportunity and relish the experience. The journey offers much more than just the pursuit of a title.

10. What do you look for in brands you associate yourself with?
As a woman who has been vocal about having a strong female force, it is important for me to align myself with a brand that is committed to advancing women. I’m proud to be the New Global Brand Ambassador of Estée Lauder, an iconic brand founded by a visionary woman, Mrs. Estée Lauder. Like her, I hope to be a role model for women around the world, inspiring them to believe in themselves and their ability to impact positive change.

11. How close are you to your mom? Any message for her?
I’m very close to my mother and she’s my best friend and always gives me the best advice. I owe a lot of my success to her and her unwavering support. Our mothers are our first role models, and I feel truly fortunate to have my mom as my role model. She’s excelled professionally, while still making sure to give us the time and attention we needed as children. Mothers are amazing because they can fulfill so many roles for us. That’s what makes our relationship so deep and pure.

12. Which are some of your most favourite holiday destinations?
Two things I love are – food and traveling. One of my favorite holiday destinations, which is also on my bucket list, is taking a food trip to Italy.

13. What are your passions or hobbies and how often do you get to take out time for them?
One of my passions is painting. It’s a great way for me to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, due to my busy schedule, I don’t get to do it as often as I would like. However, whenever I can find some quiet time in between my travels and other commitments, I try to make time for it. Painting allows me to tap into my creativity and is extremely therapeutic.

14. What does beauty mean to you? What is your beauty regime? Tell us what do you look for in the brands you collaborate with?
To me, beauty is more than just skin deep. It’s about feeling content and at peace with yourself, which radiates a natural glow. I prioritise self-care and self-love to cultivate inner happiness, which is reflected on the outside. My perfect beauty regime is simple: cleanse, moisturise, and always wear sunscreen. My go to is the Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Multi-Defense Aqua UV Gel SPF 50. Before sleeping, the first thing I do is double cleanse because I like to take off all my makeup. Then I like to use the Advanced Night Repair Serum followed by a deeply hydrating moisturiser and I finish my routine with the Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex. When it comes to brands, I collaborate with, I look for ones that align with my values and are committed to advancing women. This brand I admire for its dedication to empowering youth around the globe.

15. How was your experience working in Prithviraj and can you recall some memorable moments from the shoot?
Working in Prithviraj was a wonderful experience for me. From my director to my co-actors including Akshay sir, Sonu Sood, Ashutosh Rana, Sanjay Dutt, and Sakshi Tanwar, everyone was incredibly supportive and welcoming. I had so much to learn from all of them. One of the most memorable moments was shooting for the song “Had Kar Di”. As someone who enjoys dancing, I absolutely loved the energy, and it was even more special because it was the first time my parents came to watch me on set. The song was also one of the first bits from the movie to be edited, and seeing myself on screen for the first time was a surreal moment that I will never forget.

16. What movies have you signed up for? What is in the pipeline in terms of your work currently? Tell us about your roles in each of them?
I have already shot numerous films recently, including Tehran, for which I’m extremely excited. I am also in the process of filming other fascinating projects, such as Operation Valentine.


1. Your dream man?
A man who is compassionate, focused and has a good sense of humor.

2. Your favourite movie?
My favourite movie is Little Women (2019).

3. Your pet peeves?
Personal space is something I value and appreciate so my pet peeves have to be interrupting someone while they are speaking, coughing without covering with your hand.

4. Some essentials that are always in your bag.
I have a lot of things! My wallet, a big bunch of house keys, a little pouch of electronics which contains my spare chargers and power banks and spare earphones. I have a little pouch of skincare with some travel size serums, sunscreen, lip balm, a few lipsticks, and always a diary and pen to make notes.

5. Yoga or gym?

6. Indian food or global cuisine?
Indian, home cooked food.

7. Your idea of a perfect date? Date someone from the industry or outside?
My idea of a perfect date is having good food and meaningful conversations. I would maybe date someone from outside.

8. Beaches or hills?

9. Veg or nonveg?

10. Fame or money?
Money, I would rather be silent about it.