You would not think of Lara Dutta and Priyanka Chopra as being close. Even their last movie outing, Don 2, where PC was the leading lady and Lara did an interesting cameo, didn't give them much opportunity to interact.
But away from the media glare, it seems there's a lot of mutual admiration and affection between the two. Lara had recently said how she would love to cast Priyanka in one of her productions. "We started together ... and I feel so proud when I see Priyanka doing so well," she had said.
The bonding between the two beauty pageant winners they are both Miss Indias and were crowned Miss Universe (Lara) and Miss World (Priyanka) in 2000 was evident once again on Tuesday, at PC's father's prayer meet.
When Lara broke down after hugging PC at the condolence meet for Dr Ashok Chopra, one realised that she got so emotional because she had travelled back in time.
The two girls had shared a room during the initial rounds of their pageant and had come in touch with each other's parents. They marked their Bollywood debut they had even shared a Filmfare trophy for best debut with Andaaz (2003).
Coming to PC's dad, Dr Chopra being the gregarious person he was, one knows he had many conversations with Lara. And perhaps it is because of this, in that fleeting moment, when she came face to face with PC to offer her condolences, that Lara broke down. She walked a few steps ahead and had to literally balance herself because her eyes had clouded over.
There were hundreds of people in the hall when this happened and Lara didn't wish to let onlookers see how affected she was. She found a corner, gained composure and then walked out of the hall eyes downcast.
PC, who was inconsolable, moved to meet the next person. And she is probably unaware of how affected Lara was. But the story of the bond between these two beauty queens is worth telling only because it shows that despite the rivalry (a lot of which is media-driven), they still share something that is hard to explain.