Now That Manushi Chhillar Is Miss World, Take A Moment To Remember Madhu Sapre

Perhaps it's a good time to revisit the response that did not win Madhu Sapre the crown at Miss Universe way back in 1992

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Now That Manushi Chhillar Is Miss World, Take A Moment To Remember Madhu Sapre

Madhu Sapre was second runner-up in 1992's Miss World pageant (courtesy farrokhchothia)

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Madhu Sapre did not win the crown at Miss Universe way back in 1992
  2. Madhu Sapre's final answer placed her at the bottom of the top three
  3. She later said she was following official instructions to speak her mind
Much has been said about Manushi Chhillar's answer on motherhood and salaries that won her the Miss World title days ago. Perhaps it's a good time to revisit the response that did not win Madhu Sapre the crown at Miss Universe way back in 1992. Madhu, considered the supermodel of Indian supermodels by many (a Gisele Bundchen of her time, if you will), placed second runner-up at the pageant. It would be the closest India came to winning Miss Universe until Sushmita Sen actually did two years later in 1994.

Madhu Sapre, 21 at the time and a former athlete, advanced much further than Suzanne Sablok did in 1990 - she got to the Top 10 - or three former Miss Indias did in the Seventies (to the Top 12). Yasmin Daji had been third runner-up in 1966 and expectations were high from the poised and striking Madhu. In the final question and answer round, she spoke from the heart and said she wanted better sports facilities for her country - despite being sensible and honest, her non-world peace reply helped ensure Madhu Sapre only placed bottom of the top three.
 


She said later that she had only been following official instructions to speak her mind and that her lack of fluency in English may have been partly to blame for what was considered an unimpressive answer - we have to disagree though, Madhu's reply was far more title-worthy than any of the stock responses pageant winners routinely peddle.

Here's Madhu at a reunion of the 1992 Miss Universe contestants earlier this year:
 


Nobody told Madhu Sapre about diplomacy and saying what folks wanted to hear. Manushi Chhillar, however, learnt her lessons well. Asked "Which profession deserves the highest salary and why," the 20-year-old medical student said, "I think a mother is of the highest respect. I don't think it's just about cash but love and respect she gives to someone. She is the biggest inspiration in my life. Mother should get the highest respect."
 


Manushi's skilfully-crafted answer won her the title - but brought forth the scorn of a section of critics who dismissed her response as anti-feminist (showing that you can never please everyone, whether you lose the crown as Madhu Sapre did or win it). A throwback of Madhu with 1992's Miss Namibia:
 


Manushi Chhillar's win ends a 17-year drought at the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants - the least winners were Lara Dutta and Priyanka Chopra in 2000. Priyanka has since built an international following for her acting and perhaps beauty queen credentials carry less value in 2017 than they did in 1992 when Madhu Sapre carried with her the hopes of a nation. Now 46, married and living in Italy, Madhu Sapre's is not a name that millennials would be familiar with - to generations of models and pageant contestants, however, it should be the gold standard, the one to live upto.

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