She has an aura about her
Model-actor Neha Kokare from Baramati, who is set to represent India at Miss Aura International 2019 in Turkey, is all for empowering women
A simple girl from Baramati, who comes from a family of lawyers and freedom fighters, moves to Pune to pursue higher education, participates in a beauty contest, and goes on to win several crowns and titles. Now, she is representing India at Miss Aura International 2019 taking place in Turkey, competing with women from 42 other countries. Sounds like a fairytale? Well, that’s the story of model-actor Neha Kokare who believes that representing one’s country at a global stage is a huge responsibility. After weeks of screening, training, grooming and competing, the title will be announced on May 27.
Kokare, the winner of Miss Aura International 2019 (India), was also adjudged Miss Best Catwalk, Miss Beautiful Smile and Miss Congeniality. The youngster, who is pursuing Law at Savitribai Phule Pune University, says, “I am extremely excited to be a part of such a big pageant and completely delighted to represent my country in front of the whole world. Winning and losing is one thing, and giving your best is another. A lot of people abroad have misconceptions about India and Indian women in particular. I will ensure that I represent my country in the best way possible and through various rounds of selections, Q&A sessions etc I want to convey the message that India isn’t a land of snake charmers anymore. We are a country where women are highly educated and capable of taking up ambitious careers.”
To introduce India and Indian culture to other contestants, Kokare plans to prepare Indian meals and wear traditional clothes so that others get a hint of our culture and traditions. “It will also be a great opportunity for me to learn and understand their cultures and traditions,” she adds.
Kokare has been involved in a lot of socially-relevant activities and she asserts that her titles and crowns help her create awareness of modelling and also shatter stereotypes. “I want to encourage, train and mentor young girls who aspire to get into modelling or become beauty queens but do not have proper guidance. I plan to take them under my wings and train them to bring out their best. In fact, I had organised Miss Baramati in my hometown and that boosted the confidence of the girls there who were initially very shy.”
She wants to empower women in rural Maharashtra. “It is time we emerged from the veil and stopped peeping through the doors and windows. Women need to be independent and confident, be aware of their own capabilities and, most importantly, must voice their opinion. Coming from a small taluka like Baramati, if I can, so can every other girl. People in my village are happy and feel proud of my achievements,” she adds.
Having started her career at the age of 17, Kokare has won Miss Bangalore, Miss Navy Queen and also worked in Colors Marathi’s Majha Hoshil Ka and, Comedychi Bullet Train. She acted in Malayalam film Camel Safari and StarPlus’ Yeh Hai Mohabbatein. She also holds a Diploma in Performing Arts from Anupam Kher’s Acting School — Actor Prepares, Mumbai.
She is someone who promotes positivity and says that it’s liberating to see how even the world of modelling is promoting beauty of all kinds, sizes and shapes. “You don’t have to go according to the set standard of beauty. Today, brands have ambassadors who aren’t necessarily fair or skinny. You can be dusky, dark-skinned, plump or short. Beauty pageants are also encouraging such women to come forward and embrace who they are,” she adds.
Standing at 5 ft 9 in, Kokare is not skinny. She eats nutritious food and leads a healthy lifestyle. “Your body and face reflect what you eat and I make sure I only eat healthy food and exercise regularly. Unless you take care of your body, it is hard to look radiant. The beauty comes from within,” she concludes.