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Pune girl Miss India Universe

Anoli IF-Sizzlerz

Joined: 15 February 2005
Posts: 16803

Posted: 23 April 2005 at 5:00am | IP Logged

Winners of the Pond's Femina Miss India 2005 contest: (from left) Pond's Femina Miss India Earth 2005: Niharika, Pond's Femina Miss India - Universe 2005: Amrita and Pond's Femina Miss India - World 2005: Sindhura, at the Pond's Femina Miss India 2005 contest held in Mumbai on Sunday. (Pic Yogen Shah)

MUMBAI: Twenty-three sculpted bodies strutted their stuff in a genuflection to the zeitgeist of our times - skin is in and to flaunt it is no sin. At the end of a short summery evening, the Pond's Femina Miss India-Universe crown went to 23-year-old Pune girl Amrita Thappar while the first runner-up, Ponds Femina Miss India-World, was Sindhura Gadde (20) from Vijaywada. Pond's Femina Miss India-Earth went to Mumbai-based Niharika Singh (22).

That beauty contests are now about more than mere beauty was underscored both by the questions and the answers elicited from the participants. Although co-host Sameer Soni did let slip that the event was all about beauty, brains and also athleticism, viewers were left in no doubt that increasingly, beauty contests test grey matter as well as measuring vital statistics.

Asked by Kareena Kapoor, one of the judges, in the opening round what slogan she would like to sport on her T-shirt, Amrita replied, "Alive and kicking, because that's the person I am, someone who believes in living life to the max." True to form, when she won the title she said, "I feel all my hard work has paid off and now I want to repeat history at the Miss Universe contest. Right now I'm going to party all night."

The fashion designer-cum-winner was not the only one to think out of the box and come up with a peppy response. In the semi-final round, when the contestants were asked which invention they would like to create and why, Sindhura said she wanted to develop a natural remedy for cancer, while Niharika plumped for a love machine to spread world peace.

The audience filling the Bandra MMRDA grounds was entertained by a medley of performers ranging from fresh-faced Indian Idol Abhijeet Sawant (seemingly shrunk to miniature proportions with most of the contestants towering over him), and lesser idols Rahul Vaidya and Amit Sana, who serenaded the beauties on stage.

If Bombay Rockers set the tone with 'Chakde', Yana Gupta sizzled to a remix of big-band jazz. Television stars Amit Sareen, Manav Gohil and Chetan Hansraj also added their voices to the chorus, dancing in front of the off-white sets designed by Nitin Desai. And when the boyishly winning actor Shahid Kapoor pranced and leapt on stage in his item number, girlfriend Kareena Kapoor, a jury member, visibly perked up. Mona Singh, aka Jassi, lent her wholesome presence as compere, while the benignly cheerful Soni played fall guy to perfection.

The contestants' backgrounds varied from biotechnology to dance and poetry, and economics to social service. But this beauty contest was evidently something special. New Zealand-based Sindhura, a television presenter, said she felt "on top of the world at winning, and hoped to make India proud globally". Although all the contestants seemed supremely confident, their nerves were evidently carefully controlled rather than altogether absent. Niharika later admitted, "I didn't think I would make the final cut because all the contestants were so good."

Doing justice to their roles as jury members, the panel included actors Suniel Shetty, Kareena Kapoor and Celina Jaitly, television personality Pooja Bedi, author Shobhaa De, ace shooter (Col) Rajyavardhan Rathore, fashion designer Rocky S, industrialist Anand Mahindra and TOI executive editor Jaideep Bose.

Mahindra asked semi-finalist Shivani Sabikhi which cabinet minister's portfolio she would take up if given the chance, and she fumbled before blurting out that she would be finance minister and improve on P Chidambaram's budget by addressing the needs of the ordinary citizen.

Fittingly, the last word was had by viewer Pooja Swamy, who earned a Rs 2 lakh diamond-studded crown (she tried to balance it on top of her spectacles but then gave up). Her question? "Where does beauty begin and where does it end?"

The event was sponsored by Ponds. Swarup Group of Industries was associate sponsor. Kiah was official crown and jewellery sponsor and hospitality was provided by the ITC Grand Central Hotel, Parel. The event was managed by 360 Degrees.
Bennett, Coleman and Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.

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