Interview with “Mrs. India Universe” winner Dr. Hemamalini Lakshman
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Interview with “Mrs. India Universe” winner Dr. Hemamalini Lakshman

‘Beauty is of no use without Brains’

Why should beauty pageants be restricted to unmarried girls alone? After marriage, it is only hearth and home, the girls were firmly told but the world is going through a metamorphosis and so are the women, their families and their mindsets. Husbands are becoming supportive of their wives’ dreams and families more encouraging. Getting married shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a dream or even a career in one’s chosen field.  Hemamalini, wife of Dr. K. Lakshman of Kannan Lab in city and mother of two, is one such woman.  A Ph.D holder in English Literature, Dr. Hemamalini was recently crowned “Mrs. India Universe Queen” at the Dazzles Mrs. India Universe Beauty Pageant held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. On behalf of Star of Mysore, Sujata Rajpal spoke to the beauty queen from Namma Mysuru. Excerpts…

By Sujata Rajpal

Star of Mysore (SOM): How did you feel when you heard your name being announced as the winner?

Hemamalini: I had goose-bumps when it was announced to a packed auditorium that the winner is from Mysuru. It feels great when people say I have made my city proud. It’s a victory for Mysuru than a personal accreditation for myself.

SOM: Tell us about yourself. Was it always your dream to win a beauty pageant?

Hemamalini: The tiara has always fascinated me. Since my childhood, I have been interested in fashion and won prizes in school and college in beauty contests but I equally excelled at academics. I am a gold medallist in English Literature. I got married at the age of 20 and then family responsibilities naturally and happily took precedence over my dream. I have lived in Chennai and Salem and made Mysuru my home after marriage.

SOM: Must have been challenging to balance family and education…

Hemamalini: I was only a plain graduate when I got married. I did my Master’s and Doctorate after marriage. It was challenging to balance studies, family and children but a supportive family made it all possible.  Today whatever I have achieved in life, it is only because of the support of my husband.

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SOM: Who is your role model?

Hemamalini: I believe in having real-life role models who are closer to reality. My mother Rajivi Jayakumar is my inspiration and role model. Even as a child, I was in awe with her commitment towards family. It’s amazing the way she balances between family, the outside world and her social responsibilities.

SOM: For a woman, especially for a married woman, how important is it to have family support?

Hemamalini: There is no denying the fact that behind every successful woman, there is her entire family. Ditto for me. I am extremely fortunate to have a family who is very encouraging towards me. During the run up to the event, whenever I was in self-doubt, my husband Lakshman was there to help me bounce back.

SOM: Were they your critics, fine tuning your path to Mrs. India Universe?

Hemamalini: My husband and children not only encouraged me at every step but also didn’t hesitate to give their two cents on what type of outfits look flattering on me and also helped me in preparing answers, in research for my presentation and in everything else that was important for the success. The most important was the stress-free atmosphere at home which kept away the pressure and allowed me to give my best.

SOM: How did you prepare for the mega event?

Hemamalini: Those who think beauty queens walk the ramp and the tiara automatically sits on their head are living in a fantasy world. It requires hard work and perseverance. Beauty might be in-born but it is of utmost importance to polish the beauty both outside as well as inside. It was a rigorous preparation for almost a year. My day started with one hour of yoga early morning followed by being informed about current affairs. I attended grooming classes to help me face the contest confidently. I learnt how to maintain physical appearance, ramp walk, posture, and also the tips to face question-answer rounds with confidence. I had to regularly follow fashion updates. The contestants were asked to make a presentation on violence against women. Tremendous amount of research was required to make this 15- minute presentation.

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SOM: What were the types of rounds one had to go through?

Hemamalini: There were ten rounds in all — ethnic, fitness, talent, Hawaiian, white and red, cocktail round etc. There were 26 contestants from all over India. I was confident but also had an open mind. In a competition, there can be surprises.

SOM: Beauty or brain. Which is more important to win a beauty pageant?

Hemamalini: Beauty, of course, is primary in a beauty contest but brains are equally important. One obviously can’t be a dumb beauty. Intelligence comes into action to maintain the physical beauty, to carry oneself well, good communication skills and, of course, the overall confidence comes only with brains. If not for brains, there is no way beauty is of any use.

SOM: India has been declared the most dangerous country for women, what do you have to say about it?

Hemamalini: It is very unfortunate that despite technological advancement, women are subjected to cruelty. We can’t blame men alone for this. Women should stop suffering in silence. Awareness of our rights and education is the twin formula to make India a safer place for women. Also the empowered class must help bring about this awareness to the underprivileged so women will have the strength to at least report incidents.

SOM: What is your advice to  beauty pageant aspirants?

Hemamalini: Hard work and dedication are very important for success in any field. Have a clear vision but work towards it. Just dreaming is not enough. One needs to take care of oneself which includes fitness, grooming and reading. Yes, it’s important to be aware of the world around you. Drink lots of water and have only fresh food.

SOM: What are your future plans?

Hemamalini:  Currently I am writing my first book. I also plan to conduct workshops for aspiring women who want to participate in beauty pageants.

July 8, 2018

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