An incredible journey | india | Hindustan Times
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An incredible journey

Indrani Rahman, a married Muslim mother of one, was elected by the country's press to represent India at Miss Universe pageant when it was first held in 1952 in Long Beach, California. There was no Indian participation after that till 1964 when Meher Castelino Mistri, winner of a revamped Miss India Contest, returned to Miami Beach, Florida. Meet the incredible women who put India firmly on the world beauty map.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2003 09:56 IST

Indrani Rahman, a married Muslim mother of one, was elected by the country's press to represent India at Miss Universe pageant when it was first held in 1952 in Long Beach, California. There was no Indian participation after that till 1964 when Meher Castelino Mistri, winner of a revamped Miss India Contest, returned to Miami Beach, Florida. Since then India has failed to put in an appearance only in 1988.

In fact with a number of Indian women like Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta making it big upon the world stage, the beauty industry in the country has seen some dramatic changes in the last forty years. From 100 odd particpipants who dared only hitch up their sarees to show some leg, the Miss India Contest today attracts over 10,000 young women from all walks of life - models, lawyers, entrepreneurs, doctors and students.

With so many contestants around, standards have no doubt gone up and the format of the contest itself has evolved to keep pace with the new demands. The search for a Miss India today involves a bevy of professionals - from dentists to health trainers and from make-up artists to grooming experts - who put entrants through their paces over gruelling contests, sub-contests and elimination rounds lasting months. It's no longer only about how the girls look - grace, intelligence and personality all play an important role in the final selection. National and worldwide television audience is glued in to see participants parade in evening wear, swimsuits and designer outfits.

So it was only fair that with a perfect blend of beauty and brains, Indians went on to conquer the Universe not once but twice - Sushmita Sen in 1994 and Lara Dutta in 2000. Will Nikita Anand be third time lucky? Keep watching this space.

So who were these incredible women who put India firmly on the world beauty map? Stand up and applaud -

 
1947: PRAMILA

Elected by a special press vote, Esther Victoria Abraham (later stunt film star Pramila) is today over 80 years old and is a great-grandmother. She passed on her beauty genes to daughter Naqi Jahan who made people sit up and take notice in 1967.
 

 
1952: INDRANI REHMAN

Also chosen by the country's press, Rahman was already married with one child when she won. Of Hindu and Muslim parentage, she was a true representative of India's diverse but rich cultural heritage at the first Miss Universe Pageant in Long Beach, California. She went on to become a world-famous classical dancer before passing away in 1999 in the US.