Last night in India, all eyes were on Mumbai via India’s television channel Colors, which broadcast the contest for Pond’s Femina Miss India 2013 live at 10 pm.
In the end, Navneet Kaur Dhillon emerged victorious as Miss India 2013 in the Yash Raj Studios. Sobhita Dhulipala, a 20-year-old student in Mumbai, won first runner up and actress Zoya Afroz (18) from Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh was awarded second runner up.
This year was the 50th anniversary of the competition, lending added weight to the title for Dhillon, the 20-year-old daughter of an army officer from Patiala in the state of Punjab and media student at Punjabi University. The limelight is not new for Dhillon, who also won the Femina Miss Glowing skin award. She will go on to represent India at the next Miss World contest – India has won international titles 34 times, second only to Venezuela.
The road to Mumbai was not easy. After auditions were held in Goa, Pune, Calcutta, Bangalore, Indore, Chandigarh and Delhi, 23 women were chosen to compete in the widely televised show.
Television actor Manish Paul hosted the event, which opened with a wistful audiovisual look at the event’s history. The event was judged by Karan Johar, John Abraham, Asin, Chitrangada Sing, Shiamak Davar, Ritu Kumar and Yuvraj Singh. Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai and Sonu Nigam crooned and performed for the crowd. And all 23 finalists, donning Bharatanatyam (classical Indian dance) costumes and ghagra-cholis, danced across the stage.
Chopra, who won Miss India in 2000, has since become a Bollywood megastar and singer, a path commonly taken by winners of the contest. Nodding to that possibility, amid cheers, Chopra told the three winners, “It (the crown) stays with you forever. It changes you from who you could have been to who you are going to be.”
Editor's Note: The text has been updated from the previous version.