You are married now. Why do you need to participate in these competitions?’ Sounds quite familiar, doesn’t it? A question raised often for women in our society. But Neha Deshpande decided to fight these norms and participate in a beauty pageant, and she didn’t stop there. Deshpande went on to win the Mrs India (Worldwide) title in January 2017, and is now the mentor for the finalists at the Sakal Media Group’s Sakal Beauty of Maharashtra.
Deshpande will host the finale and will take grooming sessions for the finalists while designers Shruti and Mangaaysh will help guide the contestants’ wardrobes.
Deshpande, who has in the past, anchored corporate events, done modelling and voiceovers, now conducts personality development and soft skills training for upcoming talents.
For the Sakal Beauty of Maharashtra, she plans to groom the contestants by first working on their confidence levels and gauging their in-built qualities. “I will first ask them to answer a few questions that are usually asked at beauty pageants, and study the kind of answers they give. I don’t want the grooming to get all preachy,” explains the former radio jockey.
Deshpande, who has her own YouTube Channel where she gives makeup tutorials and health suggestions, says that women need to get out of their comfort zones and soar.
Trained in Bharatanatyam, Belly Dance and Bollywood dance, Deshpande has also done an acting course with Anupam Kher. She says that her Masters in Clinical Psychology helps her in grooming youngsters.
How did she manage so much while also being a mother? “A supportive family is the key,” she quickly answers.
When asked about the one issue that she really feels for, ‘education’ is her answer, which is also the theme of the Sakal Beauty of Maharashtra pageant —
Education for the Girl Child. Miss Maharashtra is a movement of empowering young women everywhere to achieve their dreams and honouring their commitment to helping others. This pageant aims to highlight the importance that the girl, when guided well, can achieve milestones. “I am so glad someone is taking this kind of an initiative,” says Deshpande.
The glamour and fashion industry is still not considered an honourable profession to be in, among most Indians, especially in rural India. How does Deshpande plan to change that outlook? “I want to send across the message through example. I plan to keep doing good work in the industry and in the social sector and thus lead by example,” the confident model says.
Deshpande plans to do much more work in the education sector in the future, she tells us.
The beauty pageant will move through eight cities across India and will shortlist four girls from every city to be a part of a mega finale in Pune where they will be dressed in designer wear and walk the ramp, and will be given an opportunity to shine.
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The mega finale of Sakal Beauty of Maharashtra will be held on February 17 at Amanora Park Town, Pune