Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Went to Miss Punjaban Pageant...2

Here is the second and final part of the Beauty Pageant experience.

The anchor, remember that damsel in westerns?, came and spoke Punjabi with an accent. On camera she would speak Punjabi, and off camera she would start speaking Hindi. I wanted to speak in the collar microphone they had pinned to my dupatta, “Oye, someone tell this female to speak Punjabi like a Punjaban.” Incidentally, did I tell that the mic they had pinned on my dupatta kept pricking me with those harmless but irritating little electic shocks they give in Siberia? (Okay, it was a big gapp, they never gave any shocks in Siberia.) It was the channel people’s revenge on my big mouthedness. LOL. Now I am again overdoing it, they in fact, gave me all the respect due to me.

Another thing about this fashionista - she kept forgetting K’s name. She kept asking his name again and again from him and made it visibly known that she had a trouble remembering it. Somehow I felt very sorry for his ego. I mean it might have been okay if she had forgotten mine or Capt D’s name, but forgetting a singer’s name was really bad. He is not a very great hit but then three or four of his very decent songs have been a blast. He would have liked it if she had cared to remember his name. At the end of the show, when she once again forgot or pretended to forget his name about 4th time, he smiled and whispered to me, “No problems, every dog has his day.” I liked it that he was so cool.

We all sweated, partly due to the sultry weather, partly due to a hot and closed environ, and partly due to the sharp, hot camera lights. The best part in the entire show was Sachin, the makeup assistant with a tireless trot and a wonderful smile. The moment the director shouted a number, he would run towards us. Number 1 was Capt D, I was number 2, and K was number 3. Sachin was a cute boy, very smart, very attentive and very accommodating. I tried to bully him into using my tissue but he provided us all with our individual pieces of very soft muslin cloth which he insisted on using on our faces. Before every shot, he would come running and would dab the ‘required’ person’s face with his/her cloth. “Required” because if it was No. 1’s turn to ask question, he would be freshened up for the camera, otherwise he would wait till his turn came, and so on and so forth. But we were all welcome to add to the question, which we all gracefully avoided just so the person asking question should have a free hand.

Okay, the girls started off, with the cue. On the yell of “action” they would walk towards the camera, stop on a round rug. Most of them would start with “sahsshri akaal ji” (they should have been saying “Sat Sri Akal Ji”) though we were fine with a ‘good afternoon’, or’ hello’ instead of a wrongly pronounced greeting. But they wanted to make it sound like a typical Punjabi setting, though some of them looked like they had walked the sets off the K-serials with their fake jewellery. A few wore traditional Punjabi jewellery but unfortunately knew nothing about it. Some of them were just out of school, some were the students of 11th or 12th grade, a few were there after their graduation, one was a law graduate, another an experienced lecturer. And I wondered what their dreams were, and if they were going to be realized. Except that they were not clear about their dreams. Whenever a question veered towards, “why do you want to participate in this contest?” they replied with, “I want to do charity”, “I want to do something for orphans,” “I want to do something for child education,” and the staple, “I want to promote my culture and heritage.” But if I asked what a maun (ਮੌਣ) is, they cut a sorry figure. Now, maun in Punjabi is the top brim of a water well and any girl who wants to represent Punjabi culture, should know what it is. Because well-sites were the women’s entertainment before the times of the Kitty Parties. If I asked one to name the Desi-months of the Indian year, she was lost.

All the while I was wondering, which culture are they going to represent, they are a lost generation themselves. They come here and try to speak their own language in an accent that wants to pretend they are Phoren-returned. They want to say proudly that they cannot write in Punjabi, and at the same time, we find they do not know how to write a straight sentence in English. Hindi is out of question for these girls. How do we expect them to represent a culture and at the same time be well versed with the Indian realities in the global context? They have dreams alright, but no efforts directed towards reaching for those targets. They want the stars to drop in their laps but they don’t make an effort to reach out.

One of them said “joking is my hobby”. Please ignore the bad English. It comes straight from their bio-datas. The singer K asked her to crack a never-before-heard-joke. She related a godforsaken joke which blooped up badly. I ended up laughing hysterically simply because I didn’t know what to make of the joke, but thankfully the girl never came to know why I laughed. I hate to be a part of that cruelty issued from the judgment chairs in reality shows though the organizers did try to spur us to give out a little drama. I didn’t tell him, but I know I am a very boring person and would not enact any drama for anything- not at least on stage or camera.

Lest you think that all of them were there just with looks and make up, let me tell you that some of them came up with really brilliant answers on female-foeticide, social problems, and laws concerning women. There was this pretty girl, very simply but elegantly dressed up in simple Punjabi attire. She, in her bio-data had written that she had a story to share on why she wanted to be a part of this pageant. (Basically we took the questions from their areas of interest as mentioned in their introduction in their entry form). She fell in my lot. I mean I was the one to ask question, I crossed my fingers and asked her what it was. She said it was personal but she would share it. I was amazed at her courage. She said, “When I was conceived, my mother was pressurized to abort the baby in case it was a girl because there were already two girls in the family. Somehow I survived. Through this contest, I want to show the world that I m the same foetus which might have been aborted.” I wanted to ask her if it was her mother who saved her, but then I thought she might cry on camera. I let her go and gave her the maximum points – for her courage, her presentability, for the way she carried herself. I hope to find more about her later.

Then, there was this girl whom I asked, if you were to be reborn, would you like to be born as a Rakhi Sawant, a Mayawati or a Maneka Gandhi. She chose Maneka Gandhi and in detail told us about her work for animals. It was brilliant; the way she responded was confident and very positive.

I was sorry for some of them who deserved far more than this. One of them was a wonderful singer who had earlier appeared on live shows on TV and made a great advertisement for herself when her turn came. But we forgave her that, after all she is a child of 18-19. All three of us thought that she should concentrate on singing and not waste her energy elsewhere.

All through, there was no AC; I wondered why the channel was pinching its pennies. If only they had rented a Kitty hall in some hotel, everybody would have been saved a lot of time, energy and water, because I could actually feel sweat running in streams down my back. On top of that there was the makeup which had finally found its way in the tissue papers and that cute muslin cloth. I asked for a mirror to touch up my lipper. An assistant came and asked what I needed, D said, “Madam ka makeup dubara kar do”. That smart assistant was baffled. He said, “Kya breakup kar do?” I was crazy with laughter. I said, “Rehney do, tumhara qusoor nahi, garmi bahut hai.” He was genuinely puzzled, went away nodding his head and we all couldn’t help bursting into laughter.

I must mention those three cute girls; I think they were assistants to the director. They sounded very sensible, practical and pleasant. Every few minutes, the organizers would turn the pedestal farratta fan after the director called CUT, K was sitting onto my left and the fan was to his left. Every time the fan was turned on, he would be lost in his thoughts, his papers would fly away and he would look helplessly at them. The spot boys would gather his papers and then the contest would re-commence. I was reminded of Uncle Podger’s antics. D needed spectacles to read but he did not wear them. I think he did not want to look old by wearing them. As a result, all the time he kept making tentative guesses on what might have been written. Some of these guesses were really really wild, irrelevant and funny. I was giggling inaudibly all the time at his plight.

At about 5, we were done with the entire grilling process and were looking like sweaty, shiny, grilled but hungry chickens ourselves. Then they fed us with some greasy poories with chanas and a sugary cold drink. So much for the beauty…

It was a great learning experience for me - in terms of human communication, human psychology and the working of TV shows on sites away from TV Studios. The crew was, all in all, a very supportive, energetic and decent one. The one thing I am happy about is, the judgment was fair and was valued; otherwise the channels are sometimes known for promoting their own favorite candidates and pushing them through the pliable judges.


Pinku said...

thanks now the story is complete...

well first of all my good wishes to the girl who had come to compete cause she wanted to prove that she was worth keeping as a foetus. Hope she achieves much more than just the Miss punjaban title in life.

Secondly the incidents u mention happened behind the scenes seem much more interesting than anything that could happen in front of the camera. Wish they would telecast this bit rather than some girls parading around.

How do we know said...

Hello? I know a celebrity(albeit online).. when and on which channel will this be broadcast?? Jaldi dasso.... ae taan main takna hi takna...

Anonymous said...

Visited with you at the Contest- Miss Panjaban Pageant,and enjoyed the Mela.

The girls who don't know the panjabi culture are not at fault, their parents are indeed. Because they come from the families who give them all physical amenities except giving them their emotional rich heritage of Panjabi language,its rich vocabulary and culture.

Most of the contesting stuff must be of convent educated, where Panjabi is a 'Foren Language' at her own home Suba.

What purpose these contests serve?
is a big question,
Leaving it here,coming to the spirit of a Judge of a few-hours contest.
You described it in an interesting style, in a simple language, covering all parts of the contest- from stage, camera, make-up man, lights etc.etc. to the contestants- their aspirations, dreams and of course their weaknesses too, including the hot weather, sweating etc.

You have rich heritage of 'Panjabiat' in you, thats why you feel pained when some one who is 'Panjabi' but is hard of speaking Panjabi.

My suggestion is, that edit this article and put it on GNDUAA site, if possible its conversion in Panjabi too, that will serve the real purpose.

Excellent work you have done, by posting your experience for sharing with your pen-mates.

Keep it up!


Sidhusaaheb said...

Thanks for telling it like it was and exposing all the hypocrisy involved, whether on part of the anchor or the contestants.

It's good to know that you and the other judges were allowed to make a fair judgement.

Kudos to those contestants who were really worth their salt!


Anonymous said...

hey bhabhiji nicely written i jus i was der wid u ......u noe hw ilove all dis playin dressup makeup n all nicely written buh i still remeber

"TSUNAMI" wala incident din u learn anything from it........lolz

luv u

Mampi said...

Pinks-Thanks for being the first one to come. Yes, I will try to find her out and write more about her. Talking about behind the camera scenes-they even recorded Manpreet being madeup, so she cannot deny she was given due attention in case her footage doesn't turn out well, he he.

HDWK-Oye, I am no celebrity, he he he. Are you in Punjab? Its a channel called PTC channel, they will show it on PTC and PTC Punjabi they promise to launch soon. Not sure if it is available outside Punjab though.

Mama-Yeah, I wanted to tell them so much but then I held my tongue. Everybody must learn their lessons. What is considered Desi today is ultimately that they will pay heftily to learn. I will consider your opinion about putting it on the GNDUAA site.

SS-I was constantly hoping that these girls, whoever reach the finals, remain in good and honest hands. One bonds with people one meets, and I was praying they do well in life.

Avna-Dont be wicked, I didnt ask any such question this time. I had learnt my lessons well, he he he.

Pradeep said...

Interesting I must say. One, I haven't been to such shows. So it was quite insightful. One might feel differently, but you know these are facts of life, and difficult to explain.... BTW, I am off blogging for a while, as I am travelling and saddled with loads of work....

Mama - Mia said...


now we know TV shows are not all glamour and much hardwork and sweat (pun unintended) goes into them.

its good to hear that at least some women had relevant things to say and have a genuine urge to make difference!



Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Lovely post! I'm planning to link to this from BB again! :)

kiran grewal said...

may god bless these girls(littel girl you mentioned) who bein through so hard times in there life, i think i cant even feel the sense even, i can just make out it would have bein very sad, depressing.hope fully they will be in safe hands throughout there life.And honey you are amazing. you know i cant take off my eye from di screen when i m reading your post.Oh it was so cool and funny, though it was so hot for you there.ha ha ha.

Anonymous said...

well m related to u aren't i so the wickedness is justified......80 v wicked te jinna nu 80 leke aaye oho v all a wicked tabbar :D

luv u

Mampi said...

Pradeep-Thank you so much for dropping by. Your words are always encouraging. You will be missed here. Come back soon.

Abha - Yes, it was a huge learning experience for me. Though I knew what to expect, yet it was unique in its own right. I feel really honored and touched that you visit my page regularly.

Sudipta - Thanks for the honour. Looking forward to the linking from BB.

Kiran-If you had been there, I would not have stopped laughing at all.

Devaki said...

Interesting. I always wonder, how much of what's said in such pageants is real (the female foeticide thing for example) and how much is said for simply shock value or to be different. And what is worse is that do we tend to discount the one genuine feeling among 100 fake ones just because of this suspicion?

Thanks for sharing your experiences in such detail, it was a wonderful read!

Inexplicably said...

Interesting post ! I like your bindaas ( panjabi ?) attitude.

Anonymous said...

i can't understand whether u were interested in the event or not...u might hav gone there b'coz u wanted to be there ..then why ur views r against the show

Maverick said...

And i wanted to aske this to a judge of a beauty contest....while grading the contestants answers, what do u look for? politically correct statements or honesty?

Mampi said...

Devaki-Even I tend to take people on their face value. But the sincerity in her manner said that she really meant the story.

Gurpreet- Thank you. WHy question mark after Punjabi, yaar. I AM Punjabi.

Anonymous - :) Aisa bhi hota hai.

Mav-honesty is more important. One can find politically correct statments anywhere. Eloquence is another factor that I look for. Watching your words while speaking in public is very important. That tells a lot about the personality make up of the person.

phatichar said...

Wonderful account of the event. Yeah, normally the shoots are something totally different from their 'edited' versions.

It is indeed sad that youngsters today are so disoriented in their aspirations and values. Sigh...

Ramanujam said...

Looks like I've missed quite a few posts. This one was an excellent read! Offers remarkable insights into the way these pageants are organised and the people that are part of them. Very nice post(s).

Mampi said...

Phatichar-They showed the episode on tv a few days back and I wore that sans-make up look. Everybody around said, you kept complaining about the makeup, where WAS the makeup. Then i had to remind them of the sweating me and the muslin cloth that took all my paint in. Hehehe

Ramanujam-You are missed here.