Millennium Post

This May, beauty loses to brains in the capital

What do Sushmita Sen, Lara Dutta, Priyanka Chopra, Celina Jaitely and Neha Dhupia have in common? Apart from Bollywood and the Miss India crown, of course. They all took their first step into the world of glamour at the Defence Services Officers’ Institute (DSOI) organised May Queen Pageant. At least, that’s the claim that the DSOI Dhaula Kuan makes on its website.

For anyone remotely interested or aware of the glamour business in India the May Queen would be a familiar crown. But this year DSOI Dhaula Kuan has been forced to postpone the event ‘because of poor response from the participants’.

‘For the past several years we have been having at least 20 finalists on stage. This after the elimination round post the grooming session. So the number of initial entries have been higher. All participants receive professional grooming before the finalists are chosen from among them. But this year we received only 18 entries. Some of the participants later withdrew their names saying they couldn’t come for the grooming session as they had their college exams. The participants are very untrained when they come for the May Queen. We can’t just put them on the ramp without grooming them. Finally we were left with so few participants that we had no option but to postpone the event that was scheduled to have been held on 18 May,’ said Col (retd) Yash Wadhwa, secretary, DSOI, Dhaula Kuan.

The DSOI May Queen crown carries with it a 40-year-old heritage. At a time when young girls would pledge their souls to the devil for a taste of fame, why were there so few takers for the May Queen crown? A source in DSOI said that the May Queen contest organised by the Army Officers Institute in Calcutta has also been postponed because of similar reasons.

'I think there are so many beauty pageants these days that they are losing credibility. Modelling is as popular a career option for young girl or guy today, as it was a few years back. But I feel for an aspiring model, the best way to go about it today is to get his or her portfolio shot by a good photographer and then make the round of advertising agencies,' says Noopur Mishra, a city model.

But even as these old names postpone the event for want of participants, the DSOI Gurgaon, that was raised in 2007, is scheduled to hold its first May Queen pageant on 1 June. 

Of course, that  takes away the significance of the name, but Col (retd) Kenu Patankar, secretary of the Gurgaon club explains, ‘We wanted to hold the event on a weekend and since some of the contestants had exams in May, we decided to hold the event on 1 June.’

Patankar says the Gurgaon May Fair has attracted over 25 entries in its maiden year. Some of these names are those who had participated at DSOI Dhaula Kuan and shifted to Gurgaon when the Dhaula Kuan event was postponed.

Also the Gurgaon club has for the first time extended the May Queen age bracket to 16 to 35 years to attract young, married women. The usual age bracket for the May Queen is 16 to 25 years. While Patankar says this was done keeping in mind the fact that many of the army men’s daughter-in-laws wanted to participate, a source said the age bracket was extended to get more entries since Gurgaon too also faced with poor response, but later, the addition of the Dhaula Kuan participants helped it gather a decent number of entries.

Meanwhile, Gurgaon is all set to make its first May Queen Pageant memorable. Sponsors Blenders Pride Seagrams has roped in model Lakshmi Rana for the grooming and she will also one of the judges at the final. Actor Aman Verma will be the anchor for the evening.

As for DSOI Dhaula Kuan, the club is now preparing to host the contest in September-October under a new name. ‘We can’t call it May Queen at that time. We will probably just call it DSOI Beauty Contest or something,’ said the source.
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