There was a hint of rivalry between beauty queens in the days of Aishwarya-Sushmita. But in today’s chic-lit times, this turns into a full fledged book. Ira Trivedi, a contestant in the 2005 Miss India contest (not 2004 as the book’s forward would have us believe) is in the news for What would you do to save the world?, an exposé into the world of the making of a beauty queen.
Ira does a modern day Shobhaa De with veiled references to those who mould a beauty queen at a pageant. The book, through the eyes of the protagonist Riya, with her smug superiority, is a reminder of the British documentary Bitches and Beauty Queens, made on the Miss India contest the year Neha Dhupia won the crown, which followed two contestants and their Miss India crown quest and poked fun at everyone in the contest.
Riya is scathing in her analysis of all — from organisers, trainers and judges to even fellow contestants. There is disdain towards girls ob sessed with Bollywood and also some rejoicing that none of the winners man aged to get a place in the international pageants. The sponsor-organised crew that comes to film the famous Miss India swimsuit round co me out as a bunch of drooling lesbians.
One of the judges, adman Prahlad Kakkar, ap pears in the book as Promod Kakre — “the cigar-smoking mad ad-man who has a fetish for beautiful young things.” Kakkar’s re frain is: “Ira is an intelligent, attractive girl from a powerful IAS, political background. Her anger at not winning is perhaps because she’d never been refused anything before.” Donald Singh’s fitness sessions (is that Mickey Mehta?) get a scorn too. Says Mehta: “Ira needs help. The mudslinging is done by those who feel they are too good for others.” Describing Mrinalini, placed second in the contest (Sindhura Gadde?), Ira writes: “When I met her a few days ago, she complained that she hadn’t received her cheques.”
The dining etiquette classes conducted by Lina Hussain — “a page 3 personality, who after a brief stint as an air hostess, married a tycoon and opened an ‘etiquette’ school”, too get a dose. Ira says that the trainer lost control over the session and vowed never to return again. The classes were conducted by Rukhsana Eisa, who is, yes, a former flightattendant now running an etiquette school. Eisa, of course, doesn’t agree with the book.
And what does the author say? "It's not a case of sour grapes. I became close to many co-contestants and they are happy that the book was written."