Thursday, May 02, 2013

May Queen Ball : Musings and views

Yesterday along with my family I attended the May Queen Ball, an annual event of the Rustom Baug residents association. For the benefit of my non-parsi brethren it is a beauty pageant to show case the Parsi aspiring models/actors. It has a long history and like in all parsi events become a battle for ploitical upmanship among the warring groups. Without getting into those issues, this was my first time in attending the show. Parsis are demographically an ageing declining community with a glorious past and a pioneering zeal in being the first to adopt all things modern. To this day the community can boast of some great or some average achievers in the showbiz industry of India with talented singers, dancers, actors, models and production houses headed by Parsis. Maureen Wadia the queenbee of beauty pageants in India was the most prominent of these persons present on the occasion. Fitness guru Mickey Mehta, along with TV stars many of whom were unknown to a non tv buff like me.

The main event the beauty pageant was well done, almost on par and as professional as a national level event could be, it was certainly not a crude local amateurish show, but a show which seemed to confirm that the Parsi community still had the pioneering modernity tradition intact. The girls were well groomed walked the ramp with confidence style and a panache which would do professionals proud. But as if to prove they were human and not programmed dolls most of them floundered on the question round. They tried to be over feminist little realizing that a beauty pageant is very easily an example of commodification of women something they were professing to fight against. The filler items dances and fashion walks were very well done and a mix of western and bollywood were quite good.

While there is a healthy tradition of respect for the old, I thought the beauties should have been crowned by their young colleagues and the older persons should have taken backstage. However, this is typically unlike India and so we had to go through the ritual as ordained by tradition. At the end the organizers must take some credit for living up to the expectations of the community and putting up a commendable show.

Should we take these events so seriously? Can there not be some more spontaneity and a fun approach to such contests? Probably like in all things a middle path would be just right. A little less "training"  or grooming and a little more child like innocence and sweetness can make the show better and more fun.

Vispi Jokhi

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