The final of IPL II is still a few hours away but the countdown to another final has already started. The Miss Bollywood South Africa contest has been a huge hit with fans and participants and the 16 shortlisted for the crown were going through their steps under their choreographer at a plush auditorium on Friday afternoon.
The grand final to select the lucky one — she gets a prize purse of 50,000 rand (approximately Rs. 2.86 lakh) and a business-class return trip to Mumbai with a chance to see a film being made — is scheduled to start on Saturday evening at 10 pm local time (1.30 am Sunday IST).
The finalists aged from 18 to 34 were equally enthusiastic, eager and excited.
They should have been, because a distinguished panel of judges was waiting for them. This included former Miss Universe Michelle Mclean of Namibia, Bollywood diva Shilpa Shetty, FTV owner Michele Adam, former Miss South Africa Joanne Strauss and captain of the 1995 rugby World Cup winning South Africa team Francios Pienaar, who is also a leading figure behind marketing the event in South Africa.
The participants represent a wide cross section. Selected from spectators during the course of matches, a few of them have experience in modelling or acting.
Some of them are students with different goals in life and there are others who are professionals in other walks of life with no experience in the world of glamour or entertainment. But they are equally thrilled to be part of the Ms Bollywood contest.
Shazia Ebrahim from Durban is a make-up artist pursuing a degree in media studies.
“This is a huge platform for me to get noticed, if I have not already been, that is. I want to make a career out of it. Even if I don’t win the crown, I think my dream of drawing attention has been fulfilled. That way, I’m a winner already,” said the 21-year-old.
Genna Cloud is a 24-year-old from Johannesburg who has just finished her bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Being a part-time model, this has been a “huge opportunity” for her to “make it to the next” level. “Never thought I would get this chance... I am also into singing and trying to launch a solo album. Hopefully after this, I don’t have to go around and keep introducing myself.”
There are others in the mix like Somayya Khan of Durban who is 31 and a schoolteacher and Taryn Frank, an 18-year-old student from Port Elizabeth.
Neither have any idea of what this means. They would be competing with someone like Dune Kossatz who is 34 and a fulltime actress from East London.
On Saturday night, their common goal of making it bigger will bring them together. Decked up in clothes designed by Tarun Tahiliani and walking the ramp to the music of US rhythm-and-blues star Akon and British heavyweight Eddie Grant.
They will all shine in their hour of glory until the jury zeroes in on the brightest one amongst them.