The Miss India pageant now seems more like a Bollywood award show than a beauty contest. Imagine switching on your television to find Karan Johar and Ayushmann Khurrana introducing themselves as the host for the night at an event. Then you find celebrities like Kareena Kapoor Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Jacqueline Fernandez shake a leg to their chart-topping numbers. Nope, this was not any gutka sponsored awards night, but the 2018 edition of Miss India beauty pageant. In the last couple of years, Bollywood seems to have high jacked the said contest, where the concentration is more on upping the glamour quotient to garner TRP, than selecting representatives for the Miss World and Miss Universe contests.

How has Bollywood overtaken Miss India

I remember watching Miss India telecasts as a young girl, when my feminist sensibilities were yet to bloom. Somehow, the vision of elegant young women sashaying in flowing gowns seemed enthralling. The “gruelling” training these girls would go through, to polish their manners and practice the perfect walks and hand waves seemed so sophisticated to my naive mind. These girls were so multifaceted and clever. They would answer the seemingly tricky questions with such ease.

But these days I have to make a big effort to even to know who has won the contest. I am sure for most people who grew up in the nineties, will acknowledge how redundant Miss India has become today. But we do have faint memories of what it was like watching them, and it was nothing like a Bollywood award show.

How long have I been out of the zone to be surprised to find out that film stars perform at Miss India these days?

Or that the likes of Karan Johar host them? But perhaps the biggest surprise was when I read the names on the judging panel. Three out of the nine judges in the 2018 Miss India contest were actors and two were cricketers. While this invasion of film personalities in the judging panel may seem normal to some, it was much worse last year. Five out of seven judges in 2017 and  seven out of ten in 2016 (excluding designer Manish Malhotra) were from Bollywood.

The presence of one or two film personalities is understandable but is there a dearth of people who can judge such contests in India? We have so many talented people from different walks of life. What can a film personality bring to the judges’ table that an entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, innovator or social activist cannot? What special skills apart from glamour and popularity make these people suitable to judge the contest?

But amidst degrading appeal, perhaps it is this glamour and popularity which the pageant organizers are after.

However, if the organizers want to regain the lost appeal, piling the event with Bollywood‘s glamour isn’t the right way to do it. They must take a cue from the Miss America contest, which has scrapped the swimsuit round to synchronize the pageant with modern feminist sensibilities. They should try to make changes in their approach to the contest in a way which appeals to our modern sensibilities. Which displays that Miss India is more than just about glamour, beauty and a shortcut to showbiz.

Photo Credits : Femina

Also Read : It Is Time For Beauty Pageants To Scrap Swimsuit Rounds

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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