Apsara factory

THAT WAS an all familiar expression. Her palms covering the cheeks and eyes welling, the girl let out a loud shrill. Yes, this was the crowning glory. The moment of reckoning. The frail shoulders quivered as the glittering crown was ensconced on her head.

Miss India! First, the crown, ceaseless popping of flashbulbs and a swarm of admirers. Hard work and rich dividends. Thirty nine days of camaraderie culminating in the spotlight called success embracing three young ladies of Generation X. Finally, the Fa Femina Miss India contest reached its finale producing the Indian challenge to the world beauty pageant circuit this year.

``What is the greatest misconception foreigners have about Indians?'' was the question that seemed to have clinched the crown for Delhi gal Neha. "It's our population. But, little do they realise that it is our very strength. More people mean more minds. More minds mean more development. The progression goes that way!'' Thus remarked the new Miss India as the large gathering at the NAC grounds where the great shopping mall unfolded a few months back applauded.

Apsara factory

And in place was a huge setting straight from a Bollywood spectacle. While the crowd turned out in thousands - after all the finals of the event was being organised for the first time in the South - the gliteratti... er... chatteratti of Mumbai and the city were in full flow (rather glow!). Amjad Ali Khan, Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna, Venkatesh, Raveena Tandon, Shilpa Shetty, Mahima Choudhary and a host of celebrities from the fashion, art, sports and film world, the most colourful of them being designer, Zhandra Rhodes, who came in screaming pink and purple.

MTV veejays -- Malaika Arora and Raageshwari -- tried their best to humour the crowd, but were no match to their irrepressible counterpart, Cyrus Broacha, who had everyone rolling in mirth in one of the previous editions. Okay, the gathering did have their share of guffaws!

``Hyderabad is a city known for its IT. Our idea was to add some beauty with IT,'' the managing director of Times Group, Vineet Jain, said. While petite Shruti Sharma of Mumbai was crowned Miss India-World, Kolkata's Reshmi Ghosh was declared Miss India-Earth.

They would represent the nation in Miss World and Miss Asia-Pacific competitions respectively while Neha would shoulder the nation's tryst in the mercurial world of beauty pageant at Miss Universe contest.

Apsara factory

After the dismal performance last year, hopefully the Indian challenge this time would be more promising. Good luck, gals!

By K.V.S. Madhav

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