Geographical and cultural barriers are diminishing the world over. On Monday night, this fact became apparent in the city at Pond’s Femina Miss India Chandigarh contest, when it also became obvious that there are more factors contributing to vanishing barriers than technological advancement.
The news of girls from small towns making it big in the entertainment industry is now common. From city’s Vanya Mishra, crowned Femina Miss India last year, to Parineeti Chopra, who is originally from Ambala, grabbing big banner films in Bollywood, small cities are suddenly significant on India’s map.
Agrees Vanya, with a proud smile, “Initially, no one thought I would emerge a winner. Even Harbhajan Singh (Indian cricketer) asked me how I felt belonging to Chandigarh, to which I replied that many others from the city had achieved great heights in various fields. I have never been bothered by the size of the city that I come from; metropolitans undoubtedly offer greater exposure, but the zeal of girls coming from smaller regions is incomparable.”
Echoing similar thoughts is Simran Kaur Mundi, Femina Miss India 2008 and one of the judges for Monday night’s event. “I was born in Mumbai and studied in Madhya Pradesh, which isn’t as fast as Mumbai. I think girls from smaller cities are raw and hence find it easier to learn. They are also honest and know the worth of such competitions. Since it’s difficult to unlearn, it is easier to teach someone who doesn’t know,” she says.
Enthralled by the passion of the contestants, local socialite Pooja Talwar, another of the judges, adds, “Small-town girls are more enthusiastic about their participation in these pageants. They are also more hardworking and their talent is untapped.”
Furthering the conversation, former model Marc Robinson, who is now director, operations (Contestants and Creative), Femina Miss India, offers, “Girls in bigger cities venture into a career-oriented life at an early age. But things are changing. This time, for the 50th Miss India selections, we went to cities such as Indore, Goa, Pune and Chandigarh and found some unpolished diamonds. Though beauty is an essential aspect and an inherent trait, we also judge how passionately these girls want the title.”
Marc adds that once they realise a contestant’s potential, teaching her language, style and diction is not so difficult.
However, the winning reply seems to have come from the winner herself. Navneet Kaur Dhillon, crowned Miss India Chandigarh 2013, says, “Firstly, I don’t call Chandigarh a small city.
Secondly, I am a citizen of the country. My father was in the Army and I call myself an Indian. In the future, I see myself winning the biggest pageant of the world.” This is passion in its purest form.