India was on a winning spree once upon a time, precisely from 1994 to 2000. Lady luck, too, shone upon us during this period. The girls stood tall on the international podium whilst exuding poise, grace and confidence, and looked none less than divas. And as the judges and spectators watched them, round after round, they knew these girls had come to win and were rightful heirs to the tiara.
The saga began in the year 1966 when Reita Faria wore the Miss World crown, becoming the first Indian to win an international beauty pageant. Sadly, the story was cut short, and there was a dry spell of 26 years. But, history repeated in 1994 when there was a winner again, this time not one but two of them – Sushmita Sen (Miss Universe) and Aishwarya Rai (Miss World). Thereafter India kept hogging the limelight. Divas like Diana Hayden (Miss World 1997) and Yukta Mookhey (Miss World 1999) did us proud by bringing home the tiara. The year 2000 has to be the most beautiful year ever, for it gave us a winning trio of Lara Dutta (Miss Universe), Priyanka Chopra (Miss World) and Diya Mirza (Miss Earth)! These darling divas still shine today, juggling between motherhood, lucrative careers in movies and a line of endorsement deals.
India has produced a gamut of beauty queens, and these divas are still talked about and enlisted in the list of the world’s most beautiful women. Lara Dutta is ranked 6th in The Most Beautiful Miss Universe and Aishwarya Rai is the ubiquitous queen of The Most Beautiful Miss World. Today, India is on third position for most wins in international pageants. Venezuela has a total of 19 titles (Miss Universe 6, Miss World 6, Miss Earth 1, Miss International 6), United States 14 (Miss Universe 8, Miss World 3, Miss International 3), India 8(Miss Universe 2, Miss World 5, Miss Earth 1). Britain also holds 8 titles but it doesn’t have Miss Universe and Miss Earth.
Beauty contests like these aren’t just about how pretty you are, but attributes like personality, talent, wit and intelligence also play an important role in determining the winner. Even a swimsuit round has its own significance. They say, it not about who looks hot in a bikini but it’s about who is the most comfortable parading with that itsy bitsy attire in front of the entire world. The most comfortable is also the most confident. Lara Dutta enthralled everybody in that pink swimwear and got the highest score in swimsuit round that year. One of the most important and interesting component of these beauty pageants has to be the question-answer round. And needless to say, India has done exceptionally well in this category. Infact some of our answers have made it to the list of The Best Answers In A Beauty Pageant.
When Lara Dutta was asked, “Right now there is a protest going on right outside here calling the Miss Universe Pageant disrespectful of women. Convince them they are wrong?” she replied “I think pageants like the Miss Universe pageant gives us young women a platform to foray in the fields that we want to and forge ahead, be it entrepreneurship, be it the armed force, be it politics. It gives us a platform to voice our choices and opinions, and makes us strong, independent that we are today.” Ms. Dutta set a record with her answer, she scored the highest finalist interview score in the history of the Miss Universe contest, and majority of the judges gave her the maximum score of 9.99.
The response of Sushmita Sen is also ranked as one of the finest answer. On being asked, “What is the essence of woman?” she said, “Just being a woman is God’s gift. The origin of a child is a mother, a woman. Woman is sharing, she shows a man what sharing, caring, and loving is all about. That is the essence of a woman.” Even first runner up Miss Universe 1995, Manpreet Brar was remarkably good with her answers. She was asked “If you have found yourself in a situation where you are being discriminated against race, what would you do?” She said, “There is a saying that goes if your back in bent, only then will somebody climb on it, so stand up straight and nobody will ever climb on your back. That’s all.”
While we are proud of these divas and their achievements, we sometimes forget there hasn’t been a single win in the past 13 years, barring Nicole Faria, Miss Earth 2010. So, it’s about time we stopped basking in the glory of the past victories and bring home the tiara again.