Miss Indias and the missing sparkle
Why have the stars stopped shining on Indian beauties? Do women who represent India at international beauty contests lack grooming? Or is their selection faulty?
By Viral Bhayani, IANS
These are the questions being raised after Miss India Tanushree Dutta, who never seemed to be a favourite at the Miss Universe contest this week, failed to make it even to the top five.
"Clearly we are not sending those supermodels that we ought to," says celebrity photographer Daboo Ratnani.
In the past Indian beauties like Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Lara Datta, Diana Hayden and Priyanka Chopra have won international contests and raised expectations.
"I think it is not fair to expect India to win each year. Also, at the same time we should not feel so confident that we are good talkers at the contest and can easily manage to get the crowns back home," says Suchitra Pillai.
Some say there is a difference between the models who used to represent India a few years ago and the ones now.
"Today we cannot think of a supermodel like Arjun Rampal, Meher Jesia and Madhu Sapre. Not even one name sparkles in my mind that had an impact recently," adds Ratnani.
"Today, even if the big Indian campaigns are bagged by foreign models. I'm not questioning the quality of the models and their grooming, but just that they are not what they used to be."
Says model Viveka Babajee: "You know how diamonds are produced, it is the same for the Miss India contest where out of thousands of girls, we find there is one special girl who can represent our country."
"Sadly, not many good diamonds are coming forward as most beauty pageants are known for exploiting girls. Why do the girls have to wear such scanty clothes when all they have to do is check their personality?
"Unless we don't stop this exploitation, we cannot expect the best girls to come forward and take part in these contests."
Dancer Indrani Rahman was India's first representative at the Miss Universe pageant in 1952, held in California. After that, India was not represented until Femina sent representatives, starting in 1964 with Meher Mistry.
Miss India contests have come a long way. From a small event of 100 entries, where contestants were only required to show up on the night of the pageant - the event being held in a small ballroom - to a grand event of 10,000 or more entries where contestants have to attend elimination rounds and spend a few months of their life being groomed.
Tanushree too was surely well groomed but then what did she lack?
"Size does matter, and Tanushree looked a bit too short compared to those tall beauties (at Miss Universe)," says Marcellus Baptista, a columnist and editor.
"But I also feel she was far more confident and a good talker as compared to the other contestants. If she had been in the top five, then I'm sure we would have had a chance."
In the coming years the strategy must be to get the best Indian girls to participate and that is only going to happen with an improved format.
Cleo Issacs, who was one of the judges at the preliminary round at this year's Femina Miss India contest, says most girls were not too serious about the contest.
"They were just there to be part of it and be groomed and enjoy themselves. I think only girls who are serious should participate."