Sangeeta Bijlani (Miss Universe India 1980): From Beauty Queen to Bollywood Star and Beyond

Sangeeta Bijlani is a name that evokes nostalgia for many Bollywood fans who grew up watching her glamorous and powerful performances in films like Tridev, Jurm, Yodha, and more. She was also a successful model who won the Femina Miss India title in 1980 and represented India at the Miss Universe pageant. She was known for her stunning looks, her elegant style, and her charismatic personality. In this blog post, we will take a look at her journey from a beauty queen to a Bollywood star and beyond.

Early Life and Modeling Career

Sangeeta Bijlani was born on July 9, 1960, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, into a Sindhi Hindu family. She started her modeling career at the tender age of 16, and from the very beginning, she displayed the kind of charisma that would later make her a household name. Sangeeta appeared in many commercials for well-known brands such as Nirma, Vicco Turmeric, Cadbury, Campa Cola, and more. It was during her modeling days that she earned her popular nickname “Bijli” (which means lightning in Hindi), signifying her electrifying presence on the stage.

The Beauty Queen

In 1980, Sangeeta decided to take her modeling career to the next level by participating in the prestigious Femina Miss India contest. She not only participated but went on to win the coveted crown. Her victory opened the doors to an even more significant opportunity – representing India at the Miss Universe pageant held in Seoul, South Korea. At the international stage, Sangeeta was not only a beauty queen but a trailblazer. She was the first Indian contestant to wear a swimsuit at the Miss Universe pageant, making history with her confidence and poise.

One of the most remarkable moments of her Miss Universe journey was winning the Best National Costume award for her outfit, which was designed by none other than her mother, Poonam Bijlani. The outfit was a traditional Rajasthani attire, a testament to her rich Indian heritage.

A Glittering Bollywood Career

After her successful stint as a beauty queen, Sangeeta Bijlani decided to venture into the world of Bollywood. She made her Bollywood debut in 1988 with the film “Qatil,” where she starred opposite Aditya Pancholi. However, it was her role in the 1989 blockbuster hit “Tridev” that catapulted her to stardom. In “Tridev,” she played one of the three female leads alongside big names like Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah, Madhuri Dixit, and Sonam. The film’s success firmly established Sangeeta Bijlani as a popular actress in the Indian film industry.

Throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, Sangeeta continued to make her mark in Bollywood by playing diverse roles in various films, including “Hathyar,” “Jurm,” “Yodha,” “Vishnu-Devaa,” “Izzat,” “Lakshman Rekha,” and more. Her performance in “Jurm” even earned her a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, solidifying her position as a versatile and talented actress. She had the privilege of working with renowned directors like Mahesh Bhatt, Mukul Anand, J.P. Dutta, Rahul Rawail, and N. Chandra.

Personal Life and Relationships

Sangeeta Bijlani’s personal life also garnered significant attention. She had a high-profile relationship with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan for ten years before eventually tying the knot with Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin in 1996. Their marriage was a grand affair, marked by a lavish wedding reception at the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. However, as is often the case with celebrities, their marriage faced its share of challenges and controversies. The marriage ultimately ended in a divorce in 2010, with allegations of Azhar’s affair with badminton player Jwala Gutta being a significant factor.

Life After Bollywood

After her divorce, Sangeeta Bijlani decided to shift her focus to personal growth, fitness, and spirituality. She made a return to the entertainment world, albeit on the small screen, with TV shows like “Chandni” (1996), “Hasna Mat” (2003), and “Kinarey Milte Nahi” (2006). She also made a guest appearance as a judge on “Super Dancer” in 2021 alongside Jackie Shroff.

Sangeeta Bijlani’s Inspiring Journey

Sangeeta Bijlani’s life journey is nothing short of inspiring. She seamlessly transitioned from a successful modeling career to Bollywood, captivating audiences with her performances. Her resilience in the face of personal challenges, including a high-profile divorce, showcases her strength and courage.

Today, she continues to inspire many women who aspire to pursue their dreams and passions. Sangeeta Bijlani is a living example of grace, beauty, and strength, proving that one can overcome adversity with dignity and determination. Her active presence on social media, with over 500k followers on Instagram and 100k followers on Twitter, keeps her fans updated with her latest photos and insights.

Beyond Her Career

Sangeeta Bijlani is not only known for her career in the entertainment industry but also for her involvement in various social and charitable causes. Let’s take a closer look at some of the causes she has supported and contributed to:

  1. Animal Welfare: Sangeeta Bijlani is an avid animal lover who has adopted several stray dogs and cats. She has actively participated in campaigns by organizations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to raise awareness about animal cruelty and promote veganism. Her compassion extends to practical contributions, including donating money and food to animal shelters and NGOs dedicated to animal welfare.
  2. Cancer Awareness: Sangeeta Bijlani lost her father to cancer at a young age, and this personal loss has made her a vocal advocate for early detection and prevention of the disease. She has been associated with the Cancer Patients Aid Association (CPAA) and frequently participates in their events and fundraisers. Additionally, she visits cancer patients in hospitals to offer them moral support and encouragement.
  3. Women Empowerment: Sangeeta Bijlani is a strong advocate for women’s empowerment and has spoken out against issues such as domestic violence, dowry, and female foeticide. She actively supports initiatives aimed at educating and empowering women, particularly those from rural and underprivileged backgrounds. Her involvement in government campaigns like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and collaborations with NGOs like Smile Foundation and Nanhi Kali reflect her commitment to the cause.
  4. Spiritual Wellness: Sangeeta Bijlani is a follower of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living Foundation and has been practicing meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques for many years. She believes that spiritual wellness is essential for mental and physical health and happiness. Through her social media platforms and blogs, she spreads awareness about the benefits of spirituality. She has also actively participated in various events and workshops organized by the Art of Living Foundation, inspiring others to explore their spiritual side.

A Modern-Day Renaissance Woman

Sangeeta Bijlani’s diverse interests and active involvement in various charitable and social causes portray her as a modern-day Renaissance woman. Her commitment to making a positive impact in the world goes beyond her glamorous career, proving that beauty is not just skin deep; it reflects one’s inner values and compassion.

What Is Sangeeta Doing Now?

While Sangeeta Bijlani has been away from the big screen since her last appearance in the film “Lakshman Rekha” in 1997, she hasn’t been sitting idle. Here are some updates on her current life and activities:

  1. Fitness Enthusiast: Sangeeta Bijlani is a dedicated fitness enthusiast who actively works to maintain her physical well-being. She shares her fitness journey with her over 1 million Instagram followers, posting pictures and videos of her workouts and healthy lifestyle. Her fitness routine includes yoga, pilates, meditation, cycling, swimming, and hiking. Her commitment to health and wellness is an inspiration for many.
  2. Spiritual Seeker: Sangeeta Bijlani is deeply spiritual and follows the teachings of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living Foundation. She attends his workshops and sessions and visits various temples and holy places to seek blessings and peace. Her spiritual journey is an integral part of her life.
  3. Animal Lover: Sangeeta’s love for animals is evident from her social media posts, where she frequently shares pictures and videos of her beloved pet dogs and cats, affectionately calling them her “babies.” She actively supports various animal welfare organizations and campaigns for the rights and protection of animals. Recently, she adopted a stray dog named Chotu from the NGO “World For All Animal Care And Adoptions.”
  4. Fashion Icon: Sangeeta Bijlani’s sense of style and elegance have made her a fashion icon. Her Instagram showcases her impeccable fashion choices, from ethnic outfits like sarees and lehengas to western attire like dresses and jeans. She experiments with different hairstyles, accessories, and makeup, making her a trendsetter in the fashion world. Recently, she launched her own clothing line called “Bijli by Sangeeta Bijlani,” offering trendy and affordable apparel for women.
  5. Social Butterfly: Sangeeta Bijlani is known for her social interactions and maintains cordial relations with friends and family. She attends various parties, events, and functions and shares these moments with her followers on social media. Her relationships extend to ex-boyfriends Salman Khan and Mohammad Azharuddin, as well as other celebrities from the film industry.


Sangeeta Bijlani is a legend who has left an indelible mark on the Indian entertainment industry. She is a woman who has lived life on her own terms and has overcome many challenges with dignity and courage. She is an inspiration for women who aspire to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact in the world. Sangeeta’s multifaceted life, from a beauty queen to a Bollywood star, and her continued dedication to social causes and personal growth make her a true icon. She is proof that true beauty lies in the heart, and one can achieve success, make a difference, and lead a fulfilling life, all with grace and elegance.

You can also read about “Zeenat Aman (Miss Asia Pacific International 1970): A Trailblazer of Beauty and Talent in Indian Cinema“.

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