Photos & Review by Girish Modi
Atlanta, GA: There are many beauty pageants held all over the country and in Atlanta area every year. Among them the one pageant that stands out in the front is the one organized by India American Cultural Association (IACA) for last 27 years. IACA’s beauty pageant is not only the oldest, but it is one of the best in the country.
On Saturday July 13th IACA held its 28th beauty pageant in prestigious Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at the Georgia Tech campus. No wonder it was a sold out event and many had to watch standing up on the back and on the two flanks of the auditorium.
Anusha Gopali was crowned Miss IACA Georia 2013, while Veena Anilkumar won the Runner-up’s crown. In the Miss Teen Georgia category, Pushtee Jhaveri was crowned Miss IACA Teen Georgia 2013, while Gargee Sathe was declared the Runner-Up.
This year’s beauty pageantry was divided into two categories – one was called Miss Georgia and the other Miss Teen Georgia. Thirteen teenaged girls and fifteen young women participated the pageantry. They were all fondly called “angels on earth” because they truly looked like angels in their costumes and attire.
Show started at 6 pm and continued for four-and-half hours. The first item of the evening was a dance by all the contestants. The stage was decorated with a motif accented with visual effects on the large screen in the background. After the warm up dance, two pairs of emcees – one pair of Archith Seshadri and Movina Nagarajan for The Teens and the other pair of Sumeet Goraya and Anjali Tripathi for The Miss– came on the stage and introduced the eight judges who were carefully chosen by the team.
The distinguished judges were Anupa Thakurta who is an exponent of the traditional and classical Indian dance form of Bharatnatyam; Hiromi Sato who is serving as assistant to the Japanese counsel-General in Atlanta; Nancy Dozier who is a beauty and entertainment industry leader; Robert Hope who is a 40-year veteran of public relations and event marketing industry; Ross Rossin who is a renowned artist with over 250 portraits to his credit; Shivani Gandhi who is a 2008 winner of Miss Georgia; Sniti Mishra who is a finalist of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa singing TV show; and Surinder Bedi who is CEO of Image Boutique Shop and a designer of bridal outfits.
In the next item, Gurupreet Sarin, a very talented jazz and soul singer, won the hearts and minds of many by his rendition of legendary Ray Charles’ immortal melodies, while the girls were getting ready for the ramp walk.
After Sarin’s performance contestants came back on stage in beautifully clad Indian saris and dresses, makeup and jewelry that made them look like brides and one by one walked on the podium and on the stage while music and visual effects were creating the mood.
Hema Shilpa, a well-known Kuchipudi dancer gave a solo dance performance to the medley of Bollywood songs.
Rules for the SMS polling and People’s Choice Award were announced and the audience were encouraged to participate and vote for their best choice by texting. This award was declared at the end. Also it was explained how the scores will be tabulated.
On the 9th July a talent round of all the girls was held and the video of their performance was screened for the audience and the judges. After the video, top 3 girls from Teen Category were asked to show off their talents live. Nansi Jhanji danced and ultimately won the best Talent Award. Geetika Jape danced and won Miss Congeniality award. Veena Anilkumar danced a classical dance in Mohini Attam and ended up being a runner-up.
Similarly, in Miss Georgia category Bhoomi Laliwala played piano and won best talent award, Aneesha Dasari sang a song and did not win any award while Pushtee Jhaveri danced and won the crown. All the girls were good showing off their talents and brought the house down with cheers and screaming by their supporters.
After the intermission, Sniti Mishra took the stage and charmed the audience with classical rendering of a dance number and “in ankhon ki masti” movie song.
Now was the time for Teens and Misses for another ramp and stage walk in evening gowns. This time they all performed in groups. After the dance the question-answer session started. Each of the 28 contestants took their turn and gave their precise and intelligent answers to the questions chosen by the judges.
While the judges were deliberating their choice of finalists, Gurupreet Sarin came back on the stage. This time he cheered up the crowd with a very popular song “Georgia on my mind” in his unique style while playing guitar.
Kaushal Tripathi, president of IACA and Rina Gupta, director of the pageant took the podium and gave vote of thanks to the hard-working team consisting of volunteers, parents and community members who helped make this event a huge success. Mr. Tripathi mentioned that he has personally seen “angels on earth” work hard in ultimate display of poise, grandeur, ambition, self-confidence and friendship during last two months. He also added that the pageant is a fundraising event for StandUp2Cencer Foundation which is in line with IACA’s objective of giving back to the community.
Now the judges were ready to announce their choices of finalists in Teens and Miss categories. Nancy Jhanji, Anusha Gopali, Neha Sinha, Geetika Jape and Veena Anilkumar were chosen in Miss Georgia Category while Arsheen Kour, Pushtee Jhaveri, Gargee Sathe, Sushma Neelagaru and Neha Gulrajani were chosen in Miss Teen Georgia category.
These 10 finalists once again faced the judges for another round of question-answer session. Each finalist was given the choice of a judge who she would like to ask her a question. Each question was carefully chosen and each contestant answered it to the best of her ability.
While the scores of all the finalists were being tallied judges were deliberating the choosing of winners, students of Shiv’s Institute of Dance And Performance gave a five minute performance of Bollywood dance.
Judges were still not ready, so the emcee Sumeet Goraya kept the audience engaged by asking some finalists his own questions.
Finally the winners were announced. In Miss Teen Georgia category, while Pushtee Jhaveri was crowned as Miss Teen Georgia 2013, Gargee Sathe was declared the Runner-Up. In the Miss Georgia category, Pooja Mayur won the People’s Choice Award; Rishika Laliwala won the award for best eyes, and Geetika Jape won the award for Miss Congeniality. While Anusha Gopali was crowned as Miss Georia 2013, Veena Anilkumar won the Runner-up’s crown. Anusha also won the award for best smile.
Paddy Sharma, IACA’s chairperson gave each contestant a trophy as well as a bag of goodies. In the end Rina Gupta’s prediction of being proud to be a part of the glorious past and equally bright future has come to realize. Every one’s faces were full of joy, smile and happiness that our community shows off during such events.