What does it takes to be a Miss India? A question frequently asked to the girls attending Miss Diva and Femina Miss India auditions. Vague though it may be, but what actually does this question entails? Now this is not as taut a question as it seems. Let us look back to erstwhile Indian beauty queens who went on to win certain international pageants.
It all began with the first Miss Universe of India, Sushmita Sen. Why did Sushmita won over Carolina Gomez, Miss Colombia? Carolina’s command at language was immaculate and her answer was really insightful and highlighted the compassionate side of her personality. Moreover, she was the highest Evening Gown Round scorer ever in the pageant history, which is 9.897. When two gorgeous ladies are standing on the stage together, it becomes very difficult to pick one. In that case, what counts is your personality. Sushmita had a graceful personality. With her childlike naive smile and flamboyant maturity of mind, she could beat anyone. Her answer not only reflected her great thinking but the expressions with which she delivered it, showed that she is natural and honest. She was not being pageant patty.
Now let us go back to same year in the Miss World pageant. It was not only Aishwarya Rai’s beauty which lead her to win over the smart and dynamic answer of Miss South Africa, Basetsana Makgalemele. It was “something” more. Aishwarya, while answering was not trying hard to look witty. She was just uttering her sentiments in an utter sincere manner. Also, she never used the term, “I should be the next Miss World because…” she just implied it which highlighted that she is not gluttonous for the title but rather enthusiastic.
Then came, Miss World 1997 and Diana Hayden won not just the hearts by winning the maximum number of sub-titles at the said pageant but the title too. She was the most versatile Miss India, an all in one package. Ability to recite deep literary verses, dressing well, projecting herself on stage, being humble to all who came across her; she was a clear winner. Now here we do not see any distinguishing or evaluating points, we just see very sincere learning of all the lessons she was taught since the day she was crowned Miss India and a brilliant execution of the same at the right time. Though the credit goes to the trainer but a Miss India aspirant should have the foremost important interest of learning and improving with experiences.
Moving on to Miss World 1999, wherein Yukta Mookhey won the title. Yukta was a personality who showed that she owns a strong will power and enthusiasm to evoke constructive actions. During the pageant, when a protest took place against swimsuit round, Yukta stated- “I have little time for feminists who say doing this degrades a woman’s dignity, those involved, would not object to watching an obscene movie on television.” This guileless attitude of her, demarcated the notion of hypocrisy which girls often chose to emerge as a winner. This outright honest and bold behaviour made her journey to crown a success. Moreover, in many press interviews during the pageant highlighted that she is passionate to bring this title home not only for her country but also to make use of it for a righteous cause.
Then ensued India’s first ever back to back in Miss World with Priyanka Chopra’s victory in 2000. It is always very difficult to project yourself on the platform wherein your country has won just a year back. Priyanka’s personality was all inherent in her capability to hold on the audience’s attention through her will power and optimistic attitude. When asked about the pressure she might be facing in the pageant since India won a year back, Priyanka smilingly replied- “ I always perform best when I am under pressure, when there will be no pressure there will be no expectations, and without expectations I won’t strive for enthusiasm.” She had an aura to deliver her best, to work towards the goal not affected by the consequences. She is the best example of succeeding because of uphill struggle, which any Miss India aspirant must look up to.
In the same year, Lara Dutta won Miss Universe title. Like Diana Hayden, Lara was a crystal clear winner in the crowd. She was very smart, intellectual and bold while answering her final answer. Furthermore, she not tried too hard to be on an upper hand by stressing too much on her words, her tone was a very natural yet phenomenal one- “I think pageants like the Miss Universe pageant gives us young women a platform to foray in the fields that we want to forge ahead, be it entrepreneurship, be it armed forces, be it politics. It gives us a platform to voice our choices and opinions, and makes us strong, independent that we are today.” She smiled naturally on stage, showed her maturity when needed and proved to be a woman whose actions sound stronger than the words.
Now coming to the latest Big 4 Pageant winner from India, Nicole Faria, Miss Earth 2010. Nicole had it all what is needed in the changed scenario of modern pageant. She had a fit body, witty mind, an excellent polished personality and well fledged training. You can never go on to win today at an international platform if you lack these characteristics. When asked in the final round, “For you, what is more important: sunrise or sunset?” Nicole very sincerely and naturally answered- “I will obviously choose sunrise because whenever we see the sunrise, people will think about a new day filled with energy. A new day offers 24 valuable hours to do good things for ourselves and other people.” The use of word “obviously” showed that she is very sure about her opinion and that too for a genuine reason.
Finally returning to the first question now, what does it takes to be a Miss India? I’ll mention it in few steps-
Step 1: It takes an honest and selfless dedication. It is not a means to increase your popularity or glamour, creating a buzz in Bollywood, but it is a means of taking India on an international platform, where you have to do every possible effort to make your country proud. Grasp this fact if you want to enter pageantry.
Step 2- It takes a lots of training. You can never go unprepared even at a pageant audition without adequate training. You need to work on your body, your personality, your diction, your smile, your walk, before you can boast of yourself as a Miss India “material”.
Step 3- It takes a lot of patience. Being a Miss India is a trial and error process, where you must learn from your failures. You need to have patience to learn from every possible source. Be it your coach, a fan’s suggestion, erstwhile pageant videos or any pageant expert’s opinions. Learn to “learn”.
Step 4- Do not let your individuality diminish in mid-way. Remember that the past winners are inspiration, but that does not mean you should imitate them. Have a personality of your own, be yourself.
Step 5- Make you mind to enter the pageant, only if you are confident that you have the capabilities mentioned above. Be true to yourself, if you feel that you are not up to the mark, wait for the right time until you have worked in the right direction. It’s better to be late than to fail.
Miss India is a huge responsibility. It’s a task which can make or mar your nation’s pride. Don’t play with it until you are really confident to win the game. Be determined, be honest, be dedicated. And if you are, the nation is waiting to embrace you!