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Beauty's new FACE

It's the modern face of India that needs to be magnified, says Miss India World Sayali Bhagat who was in the city recently


HER CAMARADERIE with the camera is cool as the slew of shutterbugs scampers around to get their angles right. Ever since the crown happened, Sayali Bhagat is on a high, zipping across the country, cutting ribbons and participating in social dos. Visibly overwhelmed by all the attention, she admits, "Life has changed overnight."

In Chennai to launch Hidesign's new showroom at Spencer Plaza, the recently crowned Miss India World takes time off to chat and words roll out with confidence. "The crown was the natural culmination of months of hard work. At the outset, being very academically inclined, I wasn't attracted to glowbiz. It was my parents who believed I had it in me. So I gave it a shot. And gosh! I can't believe this sudden celebrity status," she gushes.

In formal black suit, dazzling tiara in place and wisps of hair framing her face, Sayali, lounging on a beanbag, rewinds, "Glamour doesn't come easy. It's the outcome of rigorous work. For the Ms. India pageant for instance, we were put through a painstaking grind. The schedule which started at 5.00 a.m. would go on till 9.00 p.m. Fitness sessions, yoga, dance, diction and voice culture classes were part of the itinerary. The approach was holistic. So it pays off in one way or the other — whether you win the crown or not! You get to meet so many important people. The experience is amazing."

A student of management in Mumbai, Sayali hopes to project the "new face of India. There's this mindset about the country... " she rues, "It's no longer the land of lazy cattle and snake charmers. To me, India stands for beauty, creativity and IT. It's this modern face that needs to be magnified."

When asked whether social causes simply come with the crown, she replies, "It's not as if beauty queens win the title and then get into serious work. Most of the participants at the pageant were already involved in social causes. It's just that when a title-winner gets associated with a cause it draws attention. I've been doing work in my own silent way to uplift the lives of certain tribes in Maharashtra. Prakash Amte, son of Baba Amte, has initiated the project."

And what next on the beauty front? "For about a year, my diary is full. First there's the Ms. World pageant in December, in China. This would again involve at least a month-long training routine. Over a hundred participants from across the globe are expected to be there. This means I have to learn so much about various nations to make conversation. Then yes, I will be part of ad campaigns and ramp shows. It's nice to cash in on one's looks. My future, I hope, will be about films. Perhaps after a year. But histrionics and naach gaana are about techniques, so I hope to finetune my talent with formal training."

The twinkling tiara shines brightly, so does the light of success in her eyes. Yet she pleads, "Please... beauty queens have come out of those clichés. We have a mind of our own and there's conviction in what we do. It's unfair to just skim the surface... "

T. KRITHIKA REDDY

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