Indian girl Vasuki Sunkavalli missed the crown at the Miss Universe pageant. Another year gone and another opportunity lost. While some say changing selection criteria affects choice of winners, others feel the contestants are not groomed enough to represent the country on a global platform.
“I think the pageant could be biased because such pageants want to woo different countries at different times. So a few years back it was India and, now it’s a different nation,” says designer Amit GT. Grooming expert Meher Bhasin feels another reason for losing out is that Indian girls lack confidence: “The Miss Indias are not the top quality of girls that we have. I feel they lack grooming skills; as a result they don’t reflect the confidence needed to win the crown.”
It has been a decade-long dry spell for Indian beauty queens. Vasuki also failed to be in the top 10. The Hyderabad girl, a known name in the fashion world, tweeted Tuesday after being voted out of the competition: “Sorry, if I upset many. I did give it my best shot. May the most deserving girl win...”. Girls from 89 countries participated in the Miss Universe pageant this year and Vasuki was the oldest at 27 years. It was Leila Lopes from Angola who took the coveted crown home.
Sushmita Sen was the first to win the Miss Universe title in 1994 and Lara Dutta was the last Indian to triumph at the pageant in 2000. In 1994, Aishwarya Rai became the first to bring home the Miss World title while Priyanka Chopra was the last to win it in 2000. Till 2009, the Femina Miss India title holders participated in the Miss Universe pageant, but since 2010 Sushmita’s organisation, I Am She, has been choosing India’s official entry for the Miss Universe. Their first candidate was Ushoshi Sen Gupta, who couldn’t even make it to the top 20.
“We should check whether Indian contestants are enthusiastic enough to participate, as girls are searching for many different avenues like television and modelling which sound lucrative,” adds Amit GT. Success at the international beauty pageant also depends upon the selection criteria, which keep changing every year, says Lubna Adams, choreographer for I Am She.
“There are some criteria which are required for a contestant to represent her country at the Miss Universe crown, and these keep on changing every season. For example, earlier male models with a healthy body were in demand for the runways, but nowadays designers are looking for lean body. The jury may have their own specific criteria,” she says.