Disclaimer : This is a work of fiction. All the characters in this piece are completely imaginary and fictitious. Any resemblance to any characters living or dead is purely intentional. The author has written this piece without any gender bias... ridiculing only the concept of beauty queens and contests judging beauty.
The promos had been flashing with an almost metronomic regularity. Even the most disinterested could tell you that come sunday, the most-watched news channel would bring to its the viewers, the interviews with the hottest celebs of the week... the three beauty queens!
Just the thought of seeing and hearing the "icons of Indian womanhood" sent millions of people across the nation into a tizzy. The anticipation was building up and as sunday dawned, the excitement reached a fever pitch that could only be matched by the frenzy that can exist at Eden Gardens for an India-Pak ODI.
Minutes before the appointed hour, the streets wore a deserted look and the flickering blue glow of the TV screens was visible through almost every window in the cities, towns and villages.
Then the familiar tune of the news channel sounded and everyone sat rapt in attention, eyes glued to the idiot box. What follow are exerpts from the interview. Some portions, potentially harmful to the kind reader's brain, have been deleted.
He-News-Anchor (HNA) and She-News-Anchor (SNA) sport wide smiles as they welcome the three ladies into the studio. The returning ear-to-ear smiles are wider and toothier. The brilliant whiteness of the teeth cause a temporary glare in the studio. Temporarily blinded, the HNA looks into the wrong camera as he begins to speak.
HNA : Let us welcome the three most beautiful ladies (realizes he's looking into the wrong camera... whirls around to look into the right camera as he completes the sentence)... in the country tonight!
SNA : On the extreme right is Missed India Runner up 2... Welcome!
Missed India Runner Up 2 (Miss India 2) : Namaste ... (bows head over hands joined in the tradition Indian greeting... then looks up and continues smiling)
SNA : To her left is Missed India Runner Up 1... Welcome to you too!
Missed India Runner Up 1 (Miss India 1) : Namaskar... to all my fellow Indians (does the bowing head-and-joining-hands routine and follows it up with a wave of her right hand... which signifies "ALL my fellow Indians")
SNA : Finally... to her left is the happiest of them all... the most beautiful woman in the country... Miss India!!
Miss India : Hello and Namaste (She joins her hands and bows her head. The tiara, precariously perched atop her impossibly complicated hairdo slips. The right hand whizzes up to the top of her head supporting the tiara while the left hand continues to be in the "Namaste" position. She's frozen in this pose for a few seconds. Then startegically the camera pans towards the HNA.)
HNA : Tell me ladies... how does it feel to be crowned the beauty queens? We'll start with you Miss India...
Miss India : (coos coyly) Ooooooh! It feels as if I'm on top of the world. I just cannot believe it even now. Here... pinch me! ..... Ouch!!!
Miss India 1 : Its like God has showered his blessings on us and has been very generous. Thank God! (looks heavenwards)
Miss India 2 : I think I agree with Miss India and Miss India 1.
SNA : What was it like up there waiting for the final announcement?
Miss India 1 : Oh I knew I was gonna win or at least come second. I was not nervous at all.
Miss India : I was incredibly nervous. If Aman and Malaika had not announced my name in the final three I think I would have cried. I sooooo wanted to be Miss India! It has been my dream since childhood. As a little girl, every year I used to sit glued to the TV looking at those beauty queens with awe. When Sush was crowned and she made that famous gesture of surprise, I said, I want to be a beauty queen. My mummy did not believe me and my dadda choked on his tea... but I knew I was destined to be the most beautiful woman in this land of culture, tradition and mysticism... a land called India!
Miss India 2 : I think I quite agree with Miss India. I was very nervous too.
HNA : How was the camaraderie among all you girls during the days before the final round... during the training period?
Miss India : Uhhh... the cama... the came... uhhh
Miss India 1 : (with a look that she thought conveyed intelligence) cameradairy...
Miss India : Ohhh... the cameradairy! ... oh yes! ... it was good!... in fact very good! Miss India 2 will tell you how good it was (knowing that Miss India 2 had half a brain more than any of the contestants).
Miss India 2 : Oh yes... we were extremely friendly and completely like a family. There were absolutely no quarrels or fights... uhhh... if you don't count the catfight that erupted when the organizers asked that dumb bimbo to play Miss India during the dress rehearsals. But then... a family has a few fights. Hai na?!
SNA : Of course! I can understand...
Miss India : (catching the meaning of "cameradairy" and wanting to have the last word) We were like sisters!! ... very much so! (with that she leans over to her right to hug Miss India 1 who leans to her left to receive that hug. Halfway through the act... Miss India's sash slips off her shoulder since she is leaning. Trying to save the sash from falling off, she straightens herself immediately. Miss India 1 keeps on leaning towards Miss India for the hug that never comes. The chair she is sitting on, decides to lean with her and for a moment as if in slow motion Miss India 1 is leaning at an impossible angle... until... Miss India 2 reaches out and pulls her right arm bringing Miss India 1 back to the vertical position. The nation watches.)
SNA : Well, tell me... who were your favourite judges in the finals?
Miss India : Ahh! Mahesh!!!! ... He's soooo cute!!
Miss India 1 : Ohh! I prefer older men... I liked Jackie. He looks so sophisticated without his moustache!!
Miss India 2 : I think I agree with them. But I really like Yash Chopra. I like his movies. Women in his movies are sooo pretty and graceful. I would love to work with him (the extra bit of brain inside the cranium of this lady was betting on the possibility that Mr. Yash Chopra was watching the telecast. No harm in sending signals!)
HNA : Ok then... how was the preparation for the event. The fitness programs and the grooming sessions, etc.
Miss India 1 : Ya! they were so thorough! They transformed the ugly ducklings that we were into such beauties. They ...
Miss India : (cannot bear the word "ugly" associated with her. Interrupts!) We were all beautiful on the inside. These fitness programmes and the grooming sessions really only brought the inner beauty outside for the world to see. We needed some polishing on our rough edges. That is what the programmes before the contest gave us!
Miss India 2 : I think I agree!
SNA : And what about the diet regimen... the food?
(Suddenly... a loud growl ripped through the studio. Confused and angry... everybody turned towards the sound technicians who shrugged and looked around innocently. Nobody realized that it was the collective growl from the stomachs of the three beauties... at the mention of "food")
The astute SNA changes track (knowing how sensitive the issue of "food" can be... especially to these anorexic ladies)...
SNA : Tell us how you will be utilizing this year as the beauty queens?
Miss India : We are not just beauties. We are beauties with a difference. We will make a difference! (obviously a sentence learnt by rote!)
Miss India 1 : We will be travelling across the country spreading the message of peace and helping the underprivileged kids. Our crowns make us an ambassador of peace and goodwill. We will try to spread cheer into the lives of people who need it the most. Before the year is out, we will try our level best to win glory for India at the various international beauty paegents like Miss Universe and Miss World...
HNA : But we have seen in recent years that Indians are not getting the same awards at these international paegents...
Miss India : Haha... don't worry. It is true that in the past few years our competitors have not been able to corner the same glory for India since Lara Dutta. But we are better. We will win. In the name of this land of culture, diversity, tradition... we will go on to win. Just you see!
Miss India 2 : I think I quite agree!
HNA : (probing a little bit further) But there is a theory floating around that nowadays the prettiest girls are not chosen just to show that beauty is not everything while judging these contests. What do you say to that?
Miss India : (For a moment, the eyes glare and the nostrils flare. Thousands of observant viewers swear that they saw little green horns portruding from Miss India's head. But they are not sure. It was a fleeting glimpse.) Completely rubbish!! Look at me... Don't I look pretty?!!
Miss India 1 : Look at me too!!
Miss India 2 : I think I agree! Complete rubbish!
SNA : (Astute as ever) That's all we have time for today on this special beauty edition of the programme. We thank the lovely threesome for sharing their thoughts with us. Thank you ladies!! ... And now... we will be back after a very short commercial break!
At the sound of the word "break", the spell that held millions in thrall, is broken. Life in India returns to normal. Channels are changed... dinners eaten... the streets start buzzing again. Life goes on as usual.