Zoya Afroz as a child artist in "Hum Saath Saath Hain” (YouTube Screenshot)
Beauty pageants in India have always been a stepping stone for models to enter the Indian film industry. Actresses like Sushmita Sen, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta and Dia Mirza among others became famous after winning the Miss India titles.
But the story is not same for this year's Pond's Femina Miss India second runner-up Zoya Afroz. The 18-year-old has worked as a child artiste with prominent bollywood personalities like Aishwarya Rai, Karishma Kapoor, Tabu, Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan and Salman Khan and others.
Zoya, who hails from Lucknow, was crowned Miss India International 2013 on Sunday evening. She studied at RN Shah High School and completed her graduation from Mithibai College.
Zoya had worked in films when she was just four or five years old. She has also featured in advertisements. Her first film was Rajshri production's 1999 superhit film "Hum Saath Saath Hain" that featured Salman Khan, Karisma Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Tabu, Sonali Bendre, Mohnish Behl, Neelam Kothari and Mahesh Thakur.
She then appeared in 2003 film "Kuch Naa Kaho" that featured Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai in lead roles. She also acted in TV serial "Sonpari".
Before entering the beauty pageant, she acted in Punjabi film "Sadi Gali Aaya Karo".
Acting has always been Zoya's passion and after winning the Miss India International crown, Zoya is on her way to achieve Bollywood stardom.
"Acting has always been my passion and it's something that I love doing and having an experience in the film industry has always helped me. Yes, Bollywood is inevitably the next step but only after my International pageant is over where I will surely make India proud," she told The Times of India.
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