Meet Sukhmani Khaira ”“ Miss India Australia 2016


By Neeru Saluja

23-year-old Sukhmani Khaira stands confident yet calm as she wins the title of Miss India Australia 2016. A perfect mix of beauty and brains, she is all set to fulfil her dream of joining the film industry and follow the footsteps of her sister, Punjabi actress Japji Khaira.

To fulfil this dream, her mentor Raj Suri is working equally hard as they went to compete in the international pageant Miss India worldwide. Founded in 2001 by Raj Suri, Miss India Australia is the first ever national search in Australia for women of Indian origin.  With an aim to infuse confidence and belief through auditions and self-image workshops, Raj has given a voice and platform to young Australian women of Indian origin to positively contribute to the society. The former Miss India Australia winners include actresses Vimala Raman, Pallavi Sharda and Ankita Ghazan.

Following is her conversation with TIDU.

Congratulations Sukhmani on being crowned Miss India Australia 2016. What inspired you to enter the contest?

I wanted to create  a change in the local community with the potential to reach a global audience in order to contribute to pressing issues in our society. I  am a co-founder in a non- profitable charity  organisation  “International Humanitarian Federation” which sets up free medical treatment camps around Northern India. I saw the Miss India Australia competition as an opportunity to help me get out of my comfort zone and as a platform which would help me make a positive impact on other people’s life. I believed the experience would equip me to face all challenges that come in different shapes and sizes in  life. I also wanted to  help inspire other girls and women to feel secure within themselves and their inner beauty which  counts. I was also enthusiastic about participating as I believed that the  experience would help me to be grounded to my roots. I also knew about the various doors of opportunities Miss India Australia would open for me to pursue in  Bollywood, fashion  or modelling.

Tell us a bit about your experience when you landed in New Jersey to compete in the international pageant Miss India worldwide?

The Miss India Worldwide pageant was an experience I will cherish for life as I got an opportunity to represent Australia on a worldwide platform. This year was the 25th anniversary of the worldwide pageant; so it made it even more special to become a part of it. There were international participants from all around the world from 30 different countries. We got the opportunity to be trained in choreography by well-known personalities from Mumbai like Sandip Soparrkar and were trained on our cat walk by super model Alesia Raut. We were judged by the ever so lovely Bollywood actress Meenakshi Sheshadri and Tia Sharma. There was a talent round in which I presented a monologue on women empowerment – The Girl Child. We had an Indian Round, Introduction and Evening Gown Round. The contestants and I also had the pleasure of touring around New York City and creating memories that will last a life time.

Sukhmani Khera with MIA CEO Raj Suri

Nowadays in Sydney there are many beauty pageants happening amongst the Indian community. What is unique about Miss India Australia?
Raj Suri’s Miss India Australia has been happening for over 15 years. This is a well renowned platform. His mentorship, knowledge and experience have polished successful Indian Australian women like Ankita Ghazan who acted in the movie Heroine with Kareena Kapoor, Pallavi Sharda who starred in Besharam opposite Ranbir Kapoor and Vimala Raman who has done over 50 South Indian films and is a leading actress. The reason why this Miss India Australia is different and why I chose to participate is because this platform provides you more than merely the opportunity to participate in the worldwide pageant in a respected international competition. Once you win the title you are not just a title holder but also a role model for people and especially women of all ages. You have number of opportunities which can open in the modelling and acting industry.    I have  learnt so many things from the Miss India Australia Auditions like how to walk, how to give that perfect pose, maintain postures, poise and how to carry myself in a way that I never had. Also, my level of confidence increased because I had never participated in any pageant before. This pageant has made me believe in myself even more.  For me Raj Suri’s Miss India Australia is not just a title, it’s an opportunity to be trained and mentored by the best in the industry including Mr Suri himself.

Like Raj Suri’s previous winners Vimala Raman and Pallavi Sharda, do you have any wish to join the film industry? And will you follow your sister’s footsteps?

Vimala Raman, Pallavi Sharda and my sister Japji Khaira are all successful actresses in the film industry. I do wish to enter the film industry as it’s always been a big dream of mine to be on the big screen.  I’m currently undergoing intense industry workshops with Raj Suri and Karigar Australia company where I’m being trained and mentored and working on polishing my talent to prepare me for potential future opportunities in Bollywood and the modelling Industry.
How would you like to become a role model for Indian women?

I feel so honoured to have won the title of Miss India Australia and to be able to inspire other women to fulfil their dreams, whether the dream is big or small. We, as women, have been gifted with so many virtues as carers, nurturers, givers that sometimes we second guess ourselves when it comes to fulfilling our own dream. The key message I would hope any woman or girl would take from my experience is to not be afraid of chasing their dreams and living life to the fullest, irrespective of how impossible it may seem right now. Just get started and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because that’s where the magic happens.



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