TORONTO: Indian-born Mallika Kapur, 21, was crowned as Miss India-Canada at a pageant at Double Tree by Hilton Hotel here on Saturday night.
The gorgeous girl from Hamilton, near Toronto, beat 15 other contestants from across Canada to win the crown which, apart from many gifts, also carries to a fully-paid trip to India.
The audience and her supporters erupted with joy as the judges picked up the Kapur girl to wear the beauty crown for 2012-13. And her beaming dad jumped on to the stage to congratulate his daughter.
Ruchi Kumar from Richmond Hill was the first runner-up and Meena Luv Asdhir from Mississauga the second runner-up.
Actor Anupam Kher, who was honoured at the pageant for his contribution to Hindi cinema, was on hand to congratulate the winners.
Also present was the outgoing Miss India-Canada Akhina Mooken who put her crown on the new winner. Mooken recalled her visit to India and meeting cricket stars such as Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli during her one-year reign.
The 22nd annual pageant kicked off with a collective dance performance by the contestants.
After judging them in the preliminary round on the basis of their collective dance performance, evening gown, Indian dress and Indian dance, the judges picked up the five best for the final round which consisted of quizzing.
Mallika Kapur was spot-on when she was asked by a judge: `what prepares you better for life – formal education or street smarts?’ A person needs both formal and informal education outside the classroom, she said, explaining how education is a never-ending process.
She said she is a people’s person as she can speak four languages and thus easily connect with others. A trained bharatnatyam dancer, avid golfer and a certified life guard, Kapur holds PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi as her idol.
She is a graduate in health sciences (honours) from the famous McMaster University.
Earlier, while receiving his award, Anupam Kher had the audience in splits when he told them numerous anecdotes from his life and how he, the son of a lowly clerk, made it big in Bollywood.
Started by the late Punjabi businessman Kush Agnihotri and now run by his son Sanjay Agnihotri, the Miss India-Canada pageant is the biggest and oldest Indian beauty show in North America.
Some of the past winners of the Miss India-Canada pageant such as Kamal Sidhu (1991), Ruby Bhatia (1993), Gita Bali (1994), Rishma Malik (1996), Komila Jagtiani (1999), and Neelam Verma (2001) went on to become actresses, models, television stars and show hosts.
Many top-notch Bollywood stars, including Dev Anand, Hema Malini, Raveena Tandon and Aftab Shivdasani, have been chief guests at the past pageants.
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