Pageants are about beauty, but very often the girls who achieve maximum fame through pageants are the ones who are more known for who they are as people rather than just pretty faces. One such gem that Indian pageantry can boost of is Sindhura Gadde who participated in the Femina Miss India pageant in the year 2005.
She was born in Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh but moved to New Zealand at the age of 10. She worked as a model and a TV anchor there. At the age of 18, she tried her fate in Miss Auckland and Miss India NZ pageants. She finished third in the former and second in the latter. Then she came back to India for further studies and decided to try her fate in the prestigious Femina Miss India pageant.
She was never a favourite in the Miss India pageant. In fact none of the three winners were favourites for the crowns. The initial favourite was Indrani Dasgupta who was a well-known name in the fashion industry. For reasons never clarified, she withdrew from the pageant. Now the game was open for everyone.
Popular contestants were Kaveri Jha (Miss India 2003 finalist who later went on to join Tollywood), Priyanka Jha (a popular model; second from left in above picture) and Shivani Sabiki (Face of Lakme fashion week; fourth from left in above picture). Aparana Sharma and Jyoti Sardar were two other beautiful ladies who were highly talked about for their pretty faces. However the most talked about girl in the pageant was the extremely beautiful Sonal Chauhan (fourth from right in above picture; next to Sindhura) who later became a known face in Bollywood.
In the sea of such beautiful ladies, Sindhura was just an underdog. People thought she may be lucky if she makes it to the Top 10. Her experience of being a model and TV anchor was in her favour. Dusky Sindhura also won the award for most beautiful skin. The next picture was used in the official website of Femina Miss India for Sindhura’s biography.
In those days, the girls presented themselves in bikinis in a private pre-judging round. Based on over-all personality and physical beauty, ten finalists were chosen. The confident Sindhura was among the ten along with Amrita, Aparana, Jyoti, Niharika, Priya, Priyanka, Shivani, Sonal & Vaishali.
At this point, Face of Lakme fashion week winner Shivani & Sonal Chauhan were the big favorites. But the top 10 round changed everything. The next picture shows Sindhura in swimsuit during a photo-shoot for Miss India.
In top 10 round of finale, Amrita Thapar was asked by judge Kareena Kapoor to describe herself in short and she said she is ALIVE & KICKING. Jyoti Sardar was asked a very difficult question (Where does beauty begin and where does it end?) to which she could not give a convincing reply. Niharika spoke about her favourite book. Aparana and Vaishali were weak in their answers. Sonal Chauhan faced a question from Shobhe De which she could not answer effectively. Shivani was asked to choose a ministerial portfolio for herself. She found it difficult to understand the question for a while.
In those days, the casting couch sting operation on Shakti Kapoor was fresh. Everyone was talking about it. Sindhura Gadde was asked the extent upto which she would participate in such an operation. She confidently replied that she would go to the extent up to which the female journalist went in the recent sting operation (referring to Shakti Kapoor Sting operation).
The top 5 was solely chosen based on confident delivery and Sindhura made the cut. The lucky girls were Priya, Priyanka, Sindhura, Amrita & Niharika. Among the five, Priya and Priyanka were eligible only for the Miss India Universe title. Hence, chances were bright for Sindhura, Amrita & Niharika to grab a crown. The coming picture shows Priyanka Jha who missed the main crown by whiskers. She could have easily penetrated the Top 5 of Miss Universe 2005.
Amrita said she would invent a device that could spread positive vibrations. Her response was very confident and dynamic. Sindhura said she would invent a natural remedy for cancer since she had lost a dear one to the disease. It was an emotional yet confident response. Priyanka gave a very good answer, but Niharika and Priya were weak. In fact, Priya’s answer invited laughter from the judges. She said that she would invent a machine that would BEEP when a negative person approaches her.
The best answer was from Amrita and hence the Miss India Universe crown was given to her. Now only Sindhura and Niharika were eligible the rest titles. Since Sindhura gave a good answer, she was Miss India World and Niharika won Miss India Earth.
The first reactions to Sindhura’s victory were mostly negative. She looked plain. Still she gave her best and also made the best of what she got. She spoke quite openly about her intentions to win Miss World and how sincerely she was working towards it. Picture shows the three winners at an event after the finals.