Aishwarya is role model for Miss Bollywood
Kajal Maharaj, the winner of the first South African round of the Miss Bollywood Worldwide Pageant, sees Aishwarya Rai as one of her role models and is, of course, a great fan of Bollywood films.
By Fakir Hassen, IANS
The young marketing management student of Natal University, Durban, was crowned Miss Bollywood Worldwide South Africa at the glittering Face of India Pageant at the Gold Reef City Casino here Saturday.
Two more finalists won screen tests for Bollywood movies and another four for international and local modelling opportunities.
"Aishwarya Rai has put Indian women on the map with her achievements not only as Miss World and in Bollywood films but also as an international ambassador for Indian women," Maharaj told IANS.
Having studied acting for two years at the university, Maharaj felt it would help her when she represents South Africa at the Miss Bollywood Worldwide Pageant to be held in the US next year, where a number of diaspora countries will have contestants.
For dentist Kamisha Nanhoo, working on the smiles of her patients will have to take a backseat for a while as she uses her own winning smile to try to win a Bollywood role when she and co-contestant Rahul Brijnath go to Mumbai for Bollywood auditions as their prizes.
"Bollywood to me represents something which gives youth much more to aspire towards," an excited Nanhoo told IANS after winning, adding that she was "a Bollywood fanatic". Aishwarya Rai is a firm favourite with her too for having won the Miss World title and then taking it further with her advent into Bollywood and the international film scene.
Brijnath hoped that Aishwarya Rai would be present when he did his audition, even if his fellow contestants did laugh this off as "wishful thinking".
Brijnath said he had participated in only eastern dance events before, mainly at shows organised by the Ramakrishna Society of South Africa, of which he was a member.
"I hope to be able to go to India and bring some of that Bollywood style down here," Brijnath said, adding that he wanted to show Bollywood that there was lots of talent among young Indian South Africans.
Commenting on the inclusion of South African Indian males in a pageant of this nature for the first time, organiser Rouxsana Hoosen told IANS: "We just felt that there are so many beautiful girls and boys in the country, and why should all the pageants just be for females?
"We just decided to bring the boys in and that vision came to reality tonight. We felt really proud watching them perform tonight, especially when (my daughter) Farzana and I got all these accolades from the huge audience present."
Drawing on her previous experience as one of the organisers of the annual Miss India Worldwide Pageant, Hoosen said she was pleased at the support she had from some of the top South African Indian fashion designers.
Among them was Indian-born Shireen Vally, who has close links with Bollywood designers such as Manish Malhotra, and top South African Indian designer couple Bob and Fatima Essack, who used 30-year-old fabrics to create Mughal-style outfits for the contestants.
"The two winners of Bollywood screen tests will go to Mumbai when there is an opening and we'll send them through."
Taryn Gilbert and Roopesh Riga won local modelling auditions, while Shalimar Dhandir and Junaid Hoosen won international modelling auditions.
The 18 finalists from regional rounds across the country spent a week before the finals at Gold Reef City to prepare for the big event, guided by motivational speakers, holistic dieticians and modelling agencies, who provided fashion and fitness advice, makeovers and helped strengthen body and soul through meditation and yoga.