Nivedita Basu, whose initiative Pehla Kadam has joined hands with AR Mrs India 2019, is eagerly looking forward to the pageant. Talking about the thought process behind this project, Nivedita says, “It is basically called AR Mrs India, She can, she will. We are going to travel to 25 cities to search for talent and we are going to judge them in two categories – one is 20-35 yrs and the other is 35 -55yrs. We are going to select one winner from each city in both the categories. There would be almost 50 people in the finals who would come to Mumbai. We will get everyone here, groom them and then they are going to be judged. There will be one winner each from each category.”
Talking about her association with the owner and founder Ashish Rai, Nivedita says, “Ashish Rai is with me in Pehla Kadam and when he told me that they are doing something like this, I told him that I wanted to be attached through Pehla Kadam. I also asked him to make it free of cost as I had heard that beauty pageants take almost 50,000 to 1 lakh for grooming, flight tickets, stay, etc. He agreed to my condition and there is only an entry fee for anyone who will get selected and come to Mumbai for finals. She will get groomed and stay in a 5-star hotel, the whole thing is done by AR Mrs India and Pehla Kadam.”
The Lucknow auditions were held recently and many celebrities were there to lend their support. “I think the Lucknow auditions were a huge success. We are taking stars along with us because the idea is to reach people. They find it credible because there are so many beauty pageants happening around so people feel that these pageants happen just like that and there is no fruition. But when we get TV stars, people from the music industry or from the modelling world, people feel that they are actually doing something and we will get something out of it. From the people who came for the Lucknow auditions, 90 % of them were very talented and very confident. If that’s the situation in a city like Lucknow, then I am sure we will get a very good response in big cities,” she says.
Biggies such as Rashmi Desai, Krishna Mukherjee and Parul Chauhan, Sneha Ullal, Krishna Mukherjee as well as Nivedita judged the auditions . Ajijesh Jhaiswal, the owner of Ramada Lucknow, was also one of the judges. “We all are hardcore feminists and are very strong-minded. The questions which were asked were very good and we even motivated the girls and made them understand that getting married should not be the end of it for them,” says Nivedita.
In fact, career sustainability after marriage is the focus area of Mrs India 2019. “The USP of AR Mrs India 2019 is that a girl should not be known by her surname after marriage. She should have an identity of her own and as Pehla Kadam is attached with this, so there is nothing like only privileged people will get a platform. Any lower, middle class or even girls from underprivileged class, who are confident and are married and think that they can stand in a pageant, will get our support,” she says.