Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu eyes Bollywood and a film with Shah Rukh Khan

A model and Punjabi film actress before her win, the beauty queen says she wants to 'break stereotypes of what women are' in the movie industry

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With two Punjabi films to her credit, it was only a matter of time before new Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu set her sights on Bollywood. It's almost a rite of passage for beauty queens in India with Sandhu's two predecessors, Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe 1994, and Lara Dutta Bhupathi, Miss Universe 2000, having both made the leap into the Hindi film industry.

"Given a chance, I would love to be a part of it, because that has been my dream. I am an actor by profession, I've done theatre from the last five years," Sandhu, 21, told The Times of India.

Miss Universe 2021 Harnaaz Sandhu arriving at the Mumbai international airport after her win in Israel. AFP

"I have a vision of influencing people and breaking stereotypes of what women are and what they can be, and that can happen through acting. Because in today's times, people get so intimidated, so influenced by movies. That's the way I can influence people and inspire them by following my passion, just doing the best for the society."

Sandhu, a model, beat 79 other contestants to clinch the Miss Universe 2021 crown at a glittering ceremony in Eilat, Israel, becoming the third Indian woman to win the title.

Asked which actor she'd like to make her Bollywood debut with, Sandhu chose superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

"I share a lot of respect and love for Shah Rukh Khan. The amount of hard work he has done and is still doing, it's never enough I think. But he has always stayed grounded, he has always managed the success," she told the publication.

"And the way he has been talking in every interview, that really inspired me, that it's just about your attitude that takes you places. He is a wonderful artist and a wonderful human being."

For a director to work with she picked Sanjay Leela Bhansali, known for his extravagant films including Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018), which both rank among the highest-grossing Indian films of all time.

"I am excited to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali," Sandhu said. "I love the way he works, I love the quality, the art, the feeling and the depth of each and every detail that's in his movies and his work."

For now, Sandhu will move to New York City, the headquarters of the Miss Universe Organisation, where for a year she will take part in various social projects until she crowns her successor in 2022.

Scroll through the gallery below for pictures from the Miss Universe 2021 pageant:

Updated: February 01, 2022, 8:48 AM