It had all started 17 years ago. The beautiful few of the Indian Diaspora would compete annually for the Miss India Worldwide crown. But with a formal Miss India missing from the 17-strong participant list, the winner could never really claim to be the prettiest Indian around. All that has changed for the better. Earlier this month, Shagun Sarabhai was
adjudged the first Miss India Worldwide, India, at a starry event in Delhi. She then went on to Johannesburg to try her luck at winning the big prize. As testament to the advantages of being fully homegrown, Sarabhai outperformed other NRI contestants to bring back the crown to its proverbial motherland.
“I was happy winning in Delhi but competing against international contestants did put me under a little pressure. But at the same time, it also made me driven,” says the 20-year-old Mumbaiite, whose primary objective now is to promote Indian culture the world over. “Happy to be an instrument for this noble cause,” the homeopathy student adds. “When I have to go and spread Indian culture at the international level, I will tell women about how being a woman is God’s gift. She is the essence of any culture; the fountainhead of life because any child, male or female, comes from her.”
In an effort to brand itself as a leadership programme, Miss India Worldwide has distanced itself from other tiara hunts by doing away with the swimsuit round and by eliminating any height criteria.
Deepak Tijori, whose Tijori Entertainment in partnership with Kaleidovison played a key role in bringing the pageant to Indian shores, says, “We wanted to make sure that even a girl who didn’t have the height to participate in a beauty pageant or even the body to wear a swimsuit could now go on and dream about being Miss India. We don’t see how beautiful or tall she is, we look at her talents and at her whole personality.”
Although this year’s Miss India Worldwide intends to be choosy about the work she chooses, she adds that she is open to all opportunities. As for Bollywood, Sarabhai’s refrain is — “If I get a good offer, why not?” And with Tijori Entertainment offering to provide a platform for all contestants, those offers may soon start flooding in.
Tijori has already been getting calls from agents who are all interested in knowing more about the contest’s winners and participants. For winners of beauty pageants, it seems celluloid dreams are never too distant.