Soon we will have our Miss Diva 2016 winner who will represent our country in Miss Universe 2016. But looking back at our Miss India who had represented India in Miss Universe contest, there are so many of them whom I admire and makes me proud. One such lady who I really felt in love with the moment she set foot in Miss Universe contest is Shilpa Singh, Miss India Universe 2012. If one closely follow her journey from Miss India to Miss Universe contest, one can say her story was a dream many wanted to dream of, a fairy tale which gives hope to beauty pageant aspirants and a faith that they can achieve if they really have passion in what they dream for.
Shilpa Singh comes from a remote village, Samastipurin, in Bihar. Intelligent and well educated, she studied engineering in her college days and was working for Infosys. Looking at her education and background, who would have thought she will become Miss India someday. There are many women from the place where she comes from who dream of becoming Miss India but education being one of the top priorities in her region, entering into the world of entertainment, glamour and pageant take a backseat. One prime factor would be less exposure to these industries and no opportunity to try out. Sometimes, you need someone who can give you that hope of living your dream and someone you can proudly say, “Yes, she is from my place. If she can, then I can too”, that gives them inspiration. Shilpa Singh was the one they were looking for and look upto. Not just from her place, but also outside Bihar where women don’t get that kind of opportunity.
Shilpa was working for a big multinational company, Infosys, when she applied for I Am She Miss Universe India 2016. With no experience of modelling and never entered a beauty pageant before, she said she just wanted to give it a try and was just going with the flow. Well, that’s true considering she had no idea how to put on make-up, use a blow dryer and least of all, any interest in shopping. The most difficult part being wearing a swimsuit and walking on stage in front of so many people. It would have a nightmare for any girl to do that since being in swimsuit in front of so many people is still a taboo in so many parts of India. The beautiful thing about this is that she was taking risk, risking her career and not caring about what people would say. What if she didn’t win? Like she said she was just going to go with the flow.
Then she was one of the finalists for Miss Universe India 2012. She was competing with many well-known models and contestants who already had experience in beauty pageant. She was a fresher, raw and lots needed to be done. But she had nothing to loose. It would be wrong to say she was just there to enjoy being there and accept whatever the result was. Yes, she would accept it but she was also there to win it once she entered the contest. The only thing she could do was to stay calm and positive even if she was nervous inside, be true to herself and be honest to what she was doing. Soon enough, she was one of the top favourites for the contest but during the coronation night she had to settle for 1st runner-up spot, losing the main crown to Urvashi Rautela.
But the real twist of fate came in fact, post her pageant win. Urvashi had a contract issue and was underage at that time. By default, Shilpa was crowned Miss Universe India 2012 and she was going to compete in Miss Universe contest. Though she might have won a battle, it was just half the battle won. The real test started from then onwards. Many thought Urvashi could actually brought home the 3rd Miss Universe crown for India. But, with Shilpa taking over the crown from the more experienced, Urvashi Rautela, people started talking about how unexpected a contender she was for the title. There were comparisons; there were criticism over her looks, her experience as a beauty queen. It just couldn’t stop there. The road ahead might have been difficult for her with people faith in her very low. Her faith in herself and being honest to what she is made her to sail the storm she was facing. Most importantly, she had former Miss Universe, Sushmita Sen, as her mentor and guide. That was very reassuring for her.
At the Miss Universe pageant, she was then competing with the best of the best from all over the world. Looking at how she carried herself during the contest, she wasn’t the Miss India we had seen before. She wasn’t the glamorous beauty queen we had seen neither the one who speaks so philosophically nor the one who speaks with a brainy quotes. She was the Miss India we never have had. She was just being herself. From her wardrobe to her style to the way she speaks, it was simple and this simplicity stood her out. Even the way she speaks, she speaks like one of us. There was neither pretension nor sugar coating in her words. She spoke like any Indian would. There was no add-on accent which many beauty queens tend to do. Just like the masses, she spoke like them. That is the kind of connection she made with the fans. That’s very rare in our Miss India. And we love it!
If anyone had seen her official Miss Universe Introduction video, then that’s the testimony to what had been said earlier. Her intelligence and frank answer won her fans all over the world. Soon she gained more fans and followers. Even Donald Trump seemed to be impressed with her. He mentioned her in one his tweets along with five other contestants. Aside from her honesty, her personality was worth admiring. She was chirpy and bubbly. It was quite interesting to see her every time. During the preliminary round, she did extremely well in the evening gown and swimsuit round. She had an amazing stage presence, energy and thanks to her dancing skills, her catwalk was one of the best compared to previous and latter Miss India who sometimes becomes too mechanical when they walked on stage. Shilpa scored here over many Miss India. She was a joy to watch.
Despite doing extremely well in the preliminary round, it was also nerve wrecking to think if she would actually made it to the top 15 in the finale. There were too many strong contenders for the crown and there were many who did extremely well than her. She did her best and she didn’t disappoint. She finally made it to the top 16. What a joy it was when she was called to come forward to the stage. Though she might have not advanced further to the next round. She left her impression during the swimsuit round. Her confidence and bubbly personality radiated when she walked on the stage in swimsuit. Who would forget the dance like poise or gait when she stop to pose for the camera. That was unexpected but unique and very original. She already had made a mark for herself despite not making it to the next round. That was enough for Indian fans. And everyone was proud of her achievement.
Before Shilpa, India was unplaced for four consecutive years. India send well known and experienced model to exotic looking contentder to very intelligent woman for Miss Universe contest but all had failed to place inspite of their popularity. Then she came on the scene without much expectations from many fans. She might not have been favoured but she carried the pressure of making India proud to herself and never showed once. Then she did. That shows how strong and resilient she is as a person. A woman who is full of life and woman with a substance which she might have learnt from her mentor Sushmita Sen. Through her, many beauty aspirants can take inspiration irrespective of where they come from. Many pageant followers might be divided in their opinion regarding a finalist competing for Miss India but they can definitely take a leaf from her since she proved everyone wrong and silence her critics. Give every girl a chance and give her time to develop her personality and transform herself to what they would expect because everytime they try to give their opinions which they are entitled to but they should try to remember Shilpa Singh success as Miss India and a be a little constructive in their opinions. There are so many Miss India whom everyone can learn from but as now Shilpa Singh is the one we should be talking about because we are talking about Miss Universe India. And we will soon have our representative for Miss Universe.