Hit created out of Miss India

Contest infused with dose of reality

The reality bug is spreading across India. Inspired by the success of Sony Entertainment Television’s “Indian Idol,” production companies are injecting DNA from reality formats into a wide range of shows.

India’s Femina Miss India contest, where winners go on to compete in the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants, is one such broadcast event.

Niche lifestyle channel Zoom TV, whose owner Bennett Coleman Co. also controls the Femina Miss India contest, has created a reality show, “Banungi main Miss India” (I Will Be Miss India), out of the beauty pageant.

In the first phase, audiences vote for contestants in the regional rounds. Then, the short-listed beauties get a chance to kick out fellow contestants whom they deem unworthy. Finally, viewers get to vote those girls back into the race if they so desire.

Audiences were keen to join in, with close to 1 million votes being polled on the first day.

The shows are the brainchild of Aparna Pandey, head of programming at Zoom TV. “We wanted to let audiences peep into what goes into the making of a Miss India,” she says. “The contestants come to us raw and untrained, but step out on the final day, ready to take on the world. Making it into a reality show made it more participative for audiences at home.”

The finale, broadcast live on Sony Entertainment Television on March 18, allowed audiences to text message votes for their favorite contender, crowned “Sony My Miss India.”