A teen who made it to the top 10 in a beauty pageant previously won by Bipasha Basu, Koena Mitra and Celina Jaitley was asked by her school to forfeit her modelling contract if she wanted to continue studying there.
Sampurna Lahiri, a student of Alipore Multipurpose Government Girls’ School for 10 years, was refused admission in the Higher Secondary first-year arts class despite passing Madhyamik in the first division. “The principal rejected my application because I had taken part in the Sananda Tilottama beauty pageant and signed a year’s contract with Sananda,” the 17-year-old said.
Principal Jayanti Roy said she rejected Sampurna’s application for a Higher Secondary seat because she could not risk spoiling the “homely environment” of her institution.
“Students pursuing modelling or acting as careers simultaneously with academics cannot be allowed admission in the school as that would disturb the concentration of the other pupils,” she told Metro.
Sampurna’s father Niladri Lahiri admitted his daughter to Barisha High School in Behala after Roy insisted that she cancel her modelling contract and “concentrate on academics”.
Being a filmmaker himself, Niladri couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about. “I was quite shocked by the principal’s evaluation. My daughter always took active interest in extra-curricular activities and often took part in the school functions. She even acted in a few of my telefilms. But all this while the school had no problem,” he said.
As many as 4,000 girls competed in this year’s pageant.
School education minister Partha De sympathised with Sampurna, but did not say whether an institution was within its rights to reject a student on the ground that she was a model or a contestant in a beauty pageant. “It is unfortunate that the girl was denied admission in the school. As far as our guidelines are concerned, we do not have any rule that denies admission to a student because he or she takes interest in modelling or acting.”
Sampurna said she didn’t know that her school principal had taken a stern view of her participation in the pageant until the day she went for admission.
“My name figured in the second list. On the day of the admission, I went to the school with my parents and a clerk asked me to meet the principal. She told my parents that I could get admission only if I scrapped the (modelling) contract.”
Sampurna said her teachers had always encouraged her to participate in extra-curricular activities and that she had never neglected studies to model or act in her father’s telefilms.
Actress Indrani Halder is one of the past students of Alipore Multipurpose Government Girls’ School, on Judges Court Road.