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New queens on the beauty block

Winsome threesome

The verdict is out and the city has three new stars who are all set to rule the world of glitz and glamour in the days to come. At 9.30 pm on Friday, at a packed-to-capacity Pala banquet of ITC Sonar Bangla, as the music rose, crackers burst and the applause became deafening, three young girls lived out their dreams.

After a three-hour contest that judged the beauty and personality of the 20 finalists of Renew Hair Colour Cream Sananda Tilottama 2005, Susweta Paul Chowdhury, Tanaya Paul and Priyanka Bhadani emerged as the top three.

The moment of glory saw the threesome standing hand-in-hand, even as Tanaya asked for all her other 17 friends to join them on stage. What followed was a show of camaraderie bringing the curtains down on weeks of healthy competition.

Success steps

A catwalk round in ethnic attire introduced the finalists to the judges and the audience for the evening. Dressed in fiery red and orange lehenga-cholis, the contestants performed choreographed dance movements before walking the ramp one by one as an autobiographical audio-visual piece recorded by each of the girls was beamed on the two giant screens.

The second round of catwalk in eveningwear, meant primarily to judge the poise, walk and personality of the girls, allowed the judges to shortlist 10 semi-finalists, five of whom went on to the final round based on their answers.

The five girls who survived the final elimination round ' Aritri Bhattacharya, Tanaya Paul, Priyanka Bhadani, Susweta Pal Chowdhury and Sreya Pande.

Last lap

What is that one thing that you would want to do before you die' The magic question that the final five had to answer as the passport to fame. Priyanka wanted to donate her eyes for someone else to see this beautiful world. Tanaya wanted to spread the message of love so as to do away with destruction and war. Susweta decided that she would make arrangements for food, clothing and shelter for everyone in this world.

The one-minute of writing time passed in pindrop silence, expect for the background score created by Pandit Santanu Bandopadhyay and Neel Adhikari. The two had created the score for the entire show including a title track for the event and a song dedicated to the contestants. For the first time this year, the final question was decided by the people through SMS and e-mail.

Also won

There was a host of awards in other categories that many others walked off with. June Dhar made a clean sweep of the sub-contests ' Miss Fresh Face, Miss No Marks, Miss Beautiful Skin, Miss Beautiful Hair and Miss Good Health. Dipannita Patra won Miss Beautiful Eyes and Miss Beautiful Smile. Sweeti Chattaraj walked away with Miss Personality while Puloma Mukherjee was voted Miss Congeniality. The Popular Choice award that was decided though SMS and e-mail went to Sreya Pande while Zee Bangla Darshoker Pochhondo went to Susweta.

Q&A

The anchors were Parambrata Chatterjee and Komolika Guhathakurta, but the spotlight was on the expert panel of judges comprising columnist and writer Shobhaa De, director Rituparno Ghosh, celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, beauty consultant Threety Irani and Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director of Madison Communication Pvt Ltd. Each judge shot off two questions at the 10 contestants who made it to the semi-finals. As many of the contestants, including the winner, weren't fluent in English, Rituparno took it upon himself to translate the questions asked in English into Bengali and the answers from Bengali to English.

Music masti

Kunal Ganjawala, the man who rocked the nation with his solo track Bheegey honth tere took the Pala stage for his first live performance in Calcutta.

Starting off with Shehzadi hai koi, a song in praise of womanhood that he dedicated to the contestants, Kunal moved on to high-energy tracks like Channa vey and Janabe ali. He signed off with the title track of Kaal. City band Shiva kept the audience company, with Rila 'Brien hogging the spotlight and getting Usha Uthup to sing along.

Famous words

'Whenever we would watch a beauty contest at home my mother would tell me, I want to see you there one day. I am sure today I have been able to climb the first step towards that dream' ' winner Susweta.

'This is not just a beauty contest, but a platform for women's empowerment' ' Aparna Sen, editor, Sananda.

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