An Exclusive Interview With Meenakshi Mathur
Behind the glimmering ramp of pageants where beauty queens walk with their crowns, lies hard work, guidance and efforts of a trainer who never gave up. Today, The Kaleidoscope of Pageantry is here to unveil the untold story of a pageant trainer wherein hundreds of would-be beauty queens have beaten a path to her door, seeking her wisdom over the telephone, Skype, text message and in person, because Mrs Meenakshi Mathur has an enviable record.
Meenakshi Mathur, who has been a renowned face in pageant industry by bagging several titles in both Mrs and Miss pageantry still oozes with exuberance as she turns out to be pageant trainer of Mrs Tourism Universe India pageant. Lately, Tanya Mittal, who is trained by Meenakshi represented India at Miss Tourism Universe 2017 and won the title of Mrs Tourism Universe Asia 2018 title, subsequent to which The Kaleidoscope of Pageantry talked to the queen maker, discussing her vision towards the pageant training scenario. So without much ado, let’s find out what Meenakshi Mathur feels about the pageant training criteria.
Hi, Meenakshi. You have already garnered much fame via your previous stint at Mrs Universe. How does it feel to be on the other side of the table?
Hi, The Kaleidoscope of Pageantry. I have been in the fashion industry for last 24 years. After my stint at Femina Miss India in 1997, Ford Supermodel in 2000, I was lucky to get placed in TV Commercials, Print ads as well as Ramp shows. This exposed me to vast experience in all the arenas of modelling. As a Master of Ceremony I hosted over 500 events and went on to win the Best Anchor of India award in 2012. I have established my own academy and started training and grooming pageant aspirants after winning Mrs India and subsequently Mrs Universe Famous in 2016 and trust me it is the best decision I have made. It makes me happy to be a catalyst in giving wings to the dreams of young talent. I also get to relive my love for stage through my students.
How are you feeling after Tanya Mittal won the title of Miss Tourism Universe Asia 2018? How rigorous was her training process?
It is surely satisfactory when your disciple wins and becomes the pride of the nation. At Star Steps Academy, the entire team puts in efforts for each candidate to succeed. Tanya had everything perfectly set, her National Costume on peacock theme was hugely appreciated. Moreover, she secured highest score in the question and answer round, her rampwalk and turns to hand movement, it was all well rehearsed. Also, she is a People’s Person, which I think really helps. It is rightly said, “Success comes when opportunity meets perfection.”
How did the organization approach you for training the contestants?
Our academy Star Steps India is delighted to serve in the field of personality development, image consultancy, pageant and model training. For a pageant we cover all the requirements like, posture training, right eye contact, perfect gait and ramp walk, introduction, question and answer, personal interview, make up, posing for the camera, selection of wardrobe according to skin and body type, hair and eye brow styling, fitness and diet consultation. We are also associated as training and grooming partners with 4 national level pageants.
Please tell us something about your previous training experiences, giving us the glimpse of your trained contestants.
Sharad Kelkar won the title of Mr. Photogenic and went on to become a well known TV/Movie actor. Kajal jain won Miss beautiful hair at Femina Miss India, she is also a TV/Movie actor. My Academy was set up in June 2017 and soon 12 children of different age group who took our training swept away all the major titles at Junior Mr. and Miss India 2017 in August month itself, with Priya agarwal, Pranav Sethi and Siddhi Suri making a hat trick by clinching the Top titles in their respective age category. Meetender Meeth Singh won RuBaru Mr. India and represented India at Mr United Continents at Phillipines. He secured the First Runners Up title and also a sub title of Mr Photogenic in the year 2017. Tanya Mittal is representing India at Miss Tourism Universe 2018, at Lebanon. Besides those trained at academy, there are several others who are trained at various pageants, who become winners and later go on to become actors & models.
What does typical pageant training involve?
Training for an international pageant requires developing a psychology of “I love it, I want it and it is possible. I believe I have what it takes and I can”. It is most difficult to help them make that psychological shift. Meditation and self affirmation techniques are also helpful. Next, the way a contestant speaks plays a big role in winning a pageant. At academy they are trained to control their pace and pitch, correct diction and voice modulation makes a huge difference. Also, they learn to make the camera their best friend, we do photo shoot practice in different moods like elegant, playful, smiling and shots like headshot, mid shot, full length and profile. We practice over 5000 pageant questions and ensure the trainees are fluent and confident while facing question and answer round. The introduction is also prepared individually which highlights the best traits of the contestant. Fitness and diet is monitored on weekly basis. Fine dining etiquettes are a part of training. At pageants girls must look their best at all times, they are taught the complete make up as per the international standards. It takes a little while to learn the correct ramp walk with perfect turns in high heels. Once a student is ready for a pageant, we assist them with purchasing wardrobe according to their skin tone, body type, Face type etc. Colors, cuts, design and fabric vary from person to person .We also guide them with enhancing their looks with appropriate hair style.
What is the most common goal of your clients when they come for the pageant training?
Surprisingly, most of the aspirants have smaller goals like participating in local pageant. They lack self belief and think it is not possible to make it big. As I said earlier, we curate these young talents and help give wings to their dream. Once they develop belief in their own potential, the sky is the limit.
Who do you look up to as your pageant idols and how do you help your disciples to follow the same pathway?
I appreciate & follow Femina Miss India, Miss Diva, Elite Model look, Peter England Mr. India & Gladrags Megamodel amongst the Indian pageants. A few Mrs. India pageants are also setting new bench marks. I personally feel the need to judge a pageant aspirant on the basis of their respective personality traits and then recommend a suitable pageant to them.
What training principles do you live your life by?
I live with the principle that “Risk and give everything you have, to get what you desire”. It’s important to surrender yourself to your goal. Sincere practice with dedication, patience and faith can never fail.
What are your main rules when it comes to pageant training regime?
It takes approximately 3 months to 1 year for total transformation. The Thumb rule is “Practice for Perfection”. There is no short cut to success. A typical day involves workout, meditation, healthy diet, lots of water, make up practice, walk, posing, and question and answer practice. Lots of book reading and keeping abreast with current topics and off course the beauty sleep.
What are those little pageant luxuries a pageant aspirant cannot live without?
A well equipped gym with spa and healthy diet.
What are your prime objectives for the pageant? What kind of representatives are you looking forward to?
The Indian representative for Miss Tourism Universe ’2018 is Miss Tanya Mittal. Since it is a tourism pageant, we were looking for a candidate who can represent Indian culture, tradition and its values. Tanya has a perfect blend of elegance and confidence which reflects in her positive body language and communication skills. We have equipped her with best possible training and wardrobe. We are hopeful that she will make India proud.
Tell us more about your team. Who will grace the panel of official designer and trainer for different aspects in the pageant?
While I take care of the major part of on stage and in camera training, Mr Rohit Sharma is the official image consultant, he teaches the art of fine dining, manners and etiquettes and also decides the wardrobe and looks for every contestant individually. The national costume for Miss Tourism Universe has a peacock theme, it is designed by Miss Shikha.
What message would you like to give to the pageant enthusiasts, who are reading this interview?
Chase your dream, get trained by the best in the industry, a guru is essential, somebody who has walked the path you want to follow can definitely be the best guide.
What message would you like to give to The Kaleidoscope of Pageantry?
The Kaleidoscope of Pageantry has really made the global world of pageants a family. It is amazing to get the latest updates. Thank You.
That was an awestriking conversation, Meenakshi. We wish you all the luck and love as you proceed on the path to international pageants, shaping young talents.