As India’s Harnaaz Sandhu brings home the iconic Miss Universe crown in 2021, her one-and-a-half month-long journey in Israel at the international pageant seems nothing short of a tale of immense inspiration and hard work. The ceremony which was hosted by Steve Harvey also included Miss Universe India 2015, and actress, Urvashi Rautela in the selection committee.
Someone who credits her family and mother to be her biggest pillars of strength, a day before the big event, the 21-year old model-actor Harnaaz took to Instagram to give a shout-out to her family. "My strength, my lifelines," she wrote for her mother, brother, and her masi (aunt). According to the official Miss Universe website, she draws inspiration from her mother, who broke generations of patriarchy to become a successful gynaecologist and led her family.
Driven to support other women the same way, she grew up working with her mother at health camps addressing women's health and menstrual hygiene concerns. On winning the 70th edition of the Miss Universe pageant, she said: “I am immensely grateful to the Almighty, my parents, and the Miss India Organization for guiding and supporting me throughout. Loads of love to everyone who prayed and wished the crown for me. Bringing the glorious crown back after 21 years to India is a moment of greatest pride.”
Harnaaz started her pageant journey in 2017 with Times Fresh Face representing Chandigarh at the age of 17. During an interaction at Times Fresh Face 2021, Harnaaz spoke about her preparation for representing India for the Miss Universe Crown. “I believe I am the only candidate who got the shortest time to prepare, but the team has been putting in a lot of effort to bring the best version out of India. And I am getting a lot of training, be it in terms of communication or putting myself out there confidently. I promise to each one of you that you will enjoy the process— all these efforts will not go in vain.” She was also crowned Miss Universe India 2021 in October. From Kareena Kapoor Khan and Priyanka Chopra to Raveena Tandon and former Miss Universe Lara Dutta and Sushmita Sen—notable personalities are applauding her for winning the crown.
Carving her own name on the world platform, the 21-year old is already an actress with two Punjabi movies in her kitty, which are slated for release in 2022. Calling Priyanka Chopra her inspiration, she hopes to essay characters that break stereotypes that the world has of women.
Making India proud at the world stage
While the international pageant included traditional displays of national costumes, swimwear, and a series of interview questions to test the contestants ’public speaking skills—Sandhu’s wardrobe definitely has been one for the books so far.
For the final top three round, Harnaaz looked ravishing as she walked the stage in a sequined gown with a form-fitting silhouette. The deep V-neck style elevated her look. Her makeup was flawless with shades of brown on her lids and glossy lips while her hair was done in loose curls.
For her preliminary competition at Miss Universe 2021, Harnaaz wore a glittery gown, by designer duo Pankaj and Nidhi, that featured a long dramatic tail. She completed her look with a pair of rose-gold stilettos.
For the swimsuit round, she wore a solid-coloured, cap-sleeved maroon swimsuit accented with a leopard-printed scarf.
For her finale rehearsal, she wore a rose-pink coloured co-ord set by design house RAR Studio. With a bralette-like top and straight pants—the long, embroidered, scalloped-edged cape did all the talking.
For the national costume round, Sandhu went for a signature designer Abhinav Mishra ensemble. She chose a beautiful rani pink lehenga strewn with mirror work and zari embroidery, representing the rich heritage and crafts of the country.
Harnaaz definitely has a penchant for style. Wearing designer brand AAxA, she put her best foot forward in an intricate yet glamorous ensemble with vivid brocade all over. The co-ord set featuring a bralette and cigarette pants helped her sparkle her way through.