The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Puja’s pretty women

After days of preparation and nights of anticipation, young women looking their best waltzed through the Pujas, despite the puddles. If the rain was an unpleasant surprise, a truly pleasant surprise awaited them — the Pond’s Anandabazar Patrika Pujor Nandini contest.

The five-day contest, from September 28 to October 2, found photographers capturing women from 18 to 35 years at pandals in Maddox Square, Babubagan, Bagbazar Sarbojanin, Salt Lake FD Block and Garia Nabadurga. Each day drew more than 200 entries, with seven being shortlisted.

A panel of judges — actor Arjun Chakraborty, his jewellery designer wife Nilanjana Chakraborty, MLA Barry ’ Brien, photographer Sanat Ghosh and actress Satabdi Roy picked the Most Expressive Face for Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami. They looked into aspects like expression, skin, style and simplicity.

An SMS poll by readers from October 4 to 9 decided the winner of the Pond’s Anandabazar Pujor Nandini that was announced on October 11 at Hotel Hindusthan International (HHI).

The entrance to Topaz Hall set the mood on Wednesday evening, with photographs of the lovely ladies lining the walls. The Nandinis, along with family and friends, waited in eager anticipation. Clad in saris and matching jewellery, and armed with loads of confidence, they made a pretty picture.

The event kicked off with a panel discussion. The topic for the day: ‘Beauty in this part of the world is decided by parameters in the West’. Moderated by Metro columnist Shiloo Chattopadhyay, the speakers were Arjun Chakraborty, Nilanjana Chakraborty, Satabdi Roy, Sanat Ghosh, Subrata Sen and Agnimitra Paul.

“We believe in the ape culture… We still are obsessed with fair skin. Nayanika Chatterjee has been accepted, perhaps because Naomi Campbell has gone places in the West,” observed Nilanjana. “Today you have Madonna sporting bindi and mehndi along with spaghetti and jeans. Bandhni, kantha, Naga and Manipuri shawls are popular in the West; I see a lot of hope in future,” smiled Agnimitra.

Satabdi discussed the perception of beauty in Tollywood: “The crowd here still likes to only see a pretty face, while Bollywood has taken the necessary leap forward.”

“Hollywood defines Bollywood fashion, which in turn decides Tollywood fashion… The West has decided our language, given us the Constitution, the babu culture… We cannot avoid the West,” pointed out Arjun.

Then, it was time to felicitate the beauties. The shortlisted finalists for each Puja day won certificates and Pond’s goodies. Saptami winner Reshmi Ghosh, Ashtami winner Nandini Mukherjee, Navami winner Moon Chattopadhyay and Dashami winner Josita Chatterjee then took the stage.

The cat-and-mouse countdown to the crown began with Josita taking the fourth place before Bhoomi took centre stage. Then, Reshmi came in third before Bhoomi was back with Barandaye roddur… Finally, it was Nandini who was declared the Pond’s Anandabazar Patrika Pujor Nandini. “I am happy that my family is here to celebrate this moment with me. Pre-Puja, Puja and post-Puja, they were all great for me this year,” she gushed.

Moon, the runner-up, said: “I am happy that I stood second, but a bit disappointed too.” Nandini walked away with a diamond pendant and earrings, while the three others won diamond earrings.

Rakesh Kumar Singh was judged the best photographer. Five lucky-draw prizes were handed out to SMS participants Priyanka Rakshit, Jayanta Narayan Deb, Subhankar Roy, Surajit Mondal and Bhawadev Shobakar.

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