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Subject: Wanna marry Ms Pandit?


Author:
By: Mayank Shekhar
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Date Posted: 04/ 7/04 3:13:40pm


Stand-up king Chris Rock once insisted: “You know what? Women are the biggest liars in the world. They lie about everything, man — their age, height, skin colour, hair… name it. And you know what’s the biggest lie of ’em all? This is your baby!”

Well, funnyman Rock should’ve added beauty pageants as the “biggest lie of ’em all” of course — a line up of nubiles expected to look ravishing through make-up, makeovers, taught mannerisms, Manorama Yearbooks and Rapidex English speaking courses mugged up in a month.

Saccharine women supposed to drip honey on stage and puke vinegar off it. (Recall Sushmita Sen’s bitchy interview before she won the ’94 Miss India crown that she denied later to keep her title). And what finally wins ramp models ‘n’ wannabe actresses their tiara? ‘Indira Gandhi’, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’, ‘Mother Teresa’, homeless children, AIDS, Polio…. “Well said, she deserves to win,” philosophizes the equally clever judge. Yeah right, and we read Playboy magazine for the articles.

Feminists have fumed over this façade for decades and I think have given up now. The reason to delve into an apparent non-issue is that in a competition clearly about liars, someone got stripped off her Miss India cache for lying to her landlords that she was married, that’s all.

Essentially, it’s pointless to argue how marital status makes any difference to a bikini look, unless the judges are all potential suitors. Because it’s pointless to question regressive rules in a contest that is regressive to begin with. Also, Miss India is a stepping-stone to international pageants.

The rules then are naturally dependant on contests they’re intended for. And the taboo over marriage has existed among women in show business in general (film-goss groupies can list enough actresses who remain secretly married in Bombay cinema, fearing a plummet in their careers). So, obviously the taboo goes beyond pageant rules alone.

However, Laxmi Pandit’s case revealed two relatively unquestioned shocking aspects. One was how there is no cap on the number of times one can repeatedly apply for a pageant, having failed at previous attempts — what’s prompted a phenomenon called ‘veteran contestants’, which Pandit personified (she’s taken rounds of Miss India for about half a decade, placed top five in 2000).

After grooming sessions, sufficient practice, perhaps surgeries and contacts built in the industry (designer Hemant Trivedi, a judge at this year’s Miss India was known to Pandit), such constant participants obviously make the entire race redundant for the rest. To submit that since beauty pageants aren’t to be taken seriously, the issue doesn’t merit serious debate is to ignore several girls, especially from middle class India who spend hard-earned money (average: Rs 5 lakh) at body shops in small towns and cities in pursuit of this dream.

That they’re allowed to make this a profession (keep trying even if you’ve flunked several times), clearly means many otherwise-talented youths lost to a craze, just as this nation has lost many to addictions like IIT-JEE, IAS and CAT. In fact, it is worse, for the alternative vocation in this case (unless you’re a doc like Pandit) is more uncertain.

The second shocker is Pandit herself, who’s legally proven that she is in fact single (hence not broken the concerned rule). However, her affidavit mentions her reason to quit the crown nevertheless as the adverse effect the controversy could have at “India’s chances at Miss World.” In an interview to this paper, she mentions, “There wouldn’t have been a problem at the Miss World contest.”

Quite obviously, the organisers dumped her, as was pre-empted.
What baffles me is why she remained in hiding and never spoke up against being wronged. If she chose to become a ballsy martyr, she could have walked further into nano-seconds public memory with a strong image, besides of course walked into a film producer’s office with a portfolio and a ready script as well (which she still can). Unless, and oh dear no, she wants to enter Miss India yet again! Mid-Day Mumbai - Bombay, India, 07.04.2004

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Re: Wanna marry Ms Pandit?secret11/ 5/07 12:42:33pm



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