Swetha Raj talks with You & I
Tell us about your journey so far.
I was born in Hyderabad but raised in different parts of India; my father was in the Indian Air Force. We finally settled in Hyderabad when I was in the ninth grade, and I finished my intermediate at Sri Chaitanya before moving to Australia for higher education. I participated in Raj Suri’s Miss India Australia and was declared the winner in June 2014. I then participated in Miss Asia-Pacific, representing India, and was declared the winner.
Was all this expected?
I would not have imagined all this when I was 16 years old. I was a tomboy who never worried about hair, makeup or clothes. So as you would expect, I was completely shocked when my father suggested at that time that I take part in a beauty pageant organised by the defence, the May Queen Ball.
What happened then?
When I walked in, everybody knew I didn’t belong there, and so did I! Somehow, their disbelief just made me want to try. Every day, I would go back home, put on my mother’s heels and makeup, and practice for hours. I was the runner-up in that pageant to everyone’s surprise. (Smiles)
But that win changed something; I was no longer a tomboy. I didn’t concentrate much on modelling, though I knew it was something I’d be interested in. It was in 2013 that I took matters into my own hands, stopped everything else, and concentrated on what I actually wanted to do. So far, so good; I haven’t looked back since.
How did you get into modelling?
I used to work part-time while studying, and when I came across a modelling audition on a job site, I applied for it without much thought. I got a call just a couple of hours later, and that’s how my modelling career was kick-started.
What was running through your mind just before you won Miss Asia-Pacific?
To be quite honest, I was extremely ecstatic to have made it that far. I was having fun and made such amazing friends, so winning was just a bonus.
You’re studying aerospace engineering. How do you manage everything?
If you’re really determined, you will find a way around it.
We hear you plan to act, too.
Yes. Acting has always fascinated me, so if I come across something interesting, I’ll surely take it up.
What’s your connection with Hyderabad like?
Hyderabad and I are pretty tight! (Smiles) I was born here and spent my formative years in the city, so I’m familiar with the place, people, weather, traffic and, lest I forget, the best pani puri joints!
A new year has just begun. What do you want from 2015?
I take each day as it comes. I love surprises, and I’m in Hyderabad one day but in a completely different country the next.
Do you have any resolutions?
I love travelling, so I’ve decided to set aside more time for it.
What else do you enjoy?
I love dancing, reading and watching movies. I’m also a major foodie, and Mexican is my favourite cuisine, but I also like Indian and Italian.
..... as told to Anahita