Sangreela Maisnam: Miss Manipur 2011
Not just a pretty face
Chitra Ahanthem *
When the Miss Manipur 2011 beauty pageant was finally able to get underway after the monsoons played spoilsport on May 31st at the Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre in Imphal, the audience shouted in refrain only one name "Sangreela" and one contestant number, "18". This was when the final announcements were to be made after the winners of the second runners up and the first runners up of the Miss Manipur contest had been announced out of the final five. Sangreela Maisnam was clearly the crowd favorite and the final choice of the five-member jury made up of representatives from different communities and different walks of life (2 women MU professors, one woman civil judge, one female model and a male senior journalist).
Earlier, in the introduction and traditional wear round, Sangreela Maisnam wore a Maibi dress and said that she was participating in the contest since she had belief in her "caliber to win this contest and then go on to represent my state Manipur in the national level Miss India contest." It was this belief that egged on Sangreela despite a fever that left her dehydrated on the eve of the contest. Her mother Koijam ningol Maisnam Ongbi Chanchal says, "She had to be kept on a saline drip for the whole night before the contest. Then she woke up and went for her Chemistry tution classes after which she had brunch and then set out for the contest!"
When Sangreela took to the stage on the day of the contest, no one would have had a clue about her ill health. Once she was picked in the final top 10 round, she was asked, "What is the best quality you like about yourself and why?" Without missing a beat, she said, "The best thing I like about myself is my belief in myself. It helps in everyway and everything I do. It is the key to my success. And because I believe in myself, I am able to stand here on this beautiful platform, able to see you all beautiful people and be able to win the crown of Miss Manipur, 2011."
The question for the final round of the top five for Sangreela was, "What is the role of women in today's society?" Her reply was, "Women are the index and backbone of a society. They contribute their part as sisters, mothers and leaders in the society. History proves that it is women who work hand in hand when situation demands it. Good mothers produce good children who are the pillars of the nation. As Napolean Bonaparte said, 'Give me a good mother and I will conquer the world'."
Sangreela, also called Aping by her friends and relatives is not new to the beauty contest circuit. She had earlier participated in the Mega Miss North East Contest, 2010 held at Guwahati where she walked away with the 2nd runners up crown and subtitles for Miss Catwalk and Miss Beautiful Skin. She was the 2nd runners up in the Miss Barak 2010 contest held at Senapati where she also got the sub title for Miss Photogenic. She was adjudged the best female model at the Man Fete 2010 held at Manipur University and went on to win subtitles in two other contests: Miss Catwalk at the Miss Orange Queen contest held at Tamenglong and Miss Beautiful hair at the Queen of the mystic east held at Imphal. She was however let down by her get up in the 2010 Miss Kut contest and failed to make it to the top 10 round.
"I worked on my weaknesses in the earlier contests. I realized that I was not taking enough time to consider the questions properly before I answered them in the earlier contests. At the Kut contest, I had no say in my appearance in terms of hair and make up etc. But I learnt from those mistakes and was determined to get the Miss Manipur crown as it is important that I represent my state in National level contests later," says Sangreela who is currently trying to balance a slew of interviews, tution classes and photo shoots for Videocon mobiles.
The Miss Manipur Crown 2011 came with a 6 month modeling contract with Videocon and this has meant photo shoots and other later assignments. Yet, Sangreela could pass off as anything but a beauty queen dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a full-sleeved shirt and her long hair left loose. She laughs uproariously as she recounts her journey: "I did not even know how to wear shoes with heels, much less do the catwalk. Everything goes back to my love for Lai Harouba performances.
A group of friends got together to do a folk dance ensemble for the Lai Harouba festivities in 2010 and we had a teacher coming in to teach us. And though I have always taken part in the Lai Haraoba for Ima Khungthok Hanbi at Thangmeiband which is also my maternal grand mother's place right from my childhood, this folk ensemble was the first time I was going to do a proper dance with other friends. Our dance presentation was very much appreciated and we ended up going to several other Lai Harouba around Imphal and other districts following invitations. So we were doing a lot of rehearsals for that. One day we were told that there was yet another rehearsal and we went but it turned out to be a catwalk rehearsal!"
It was in fact preparations for a fashion show and Sangreela with 2 other friends (the tall ones in the dance troupe!) had been 'conned' into the rehearsals. "It was a funny sight seeing girls walking with thick exercise books on their heads tottering on high heels but we found that we had to do the same thing!" says Sangreela who adds that she and her two other friends found it as a "fun thing" to do. Very soon Sangreela was going for her tution classes and for the fashion show rehearsals. "Once my mother found out, I was sent for a "loi thaaba" experience at my aunt's place with my mom for company. I thought that was the end of it all but my friends kept nagging my mother to let me take part in the show.
When she did not relent, the show organizers somehow got in touch with a relative on my mother's side and got him to take responsibility for anything that could happen to me. So, she relented in the end. Sometimes things happen without you realizing that it may well turn out to be the life-changing factor. The same thing happened with me. It was this same group of people who forwarded my name for the Mega Miss North East Contest to be held at Guwahati. A screening committee came down to Imphal and I was selected as a participant. Following this, my mother gave me her full support though my father still had some reservations. Then I won the 2nd runners up title at the contest and that gave me the confidence to dream higher. It also led to my father supporting me in the other contests."
But isn't it contradictory that she aspires to become a police officer and yet talks about the glamour world? "Not at all. The glamour world also needs discipline and hard work too. One sees only the end result but we have to put in hours of practice and balance our time and efforts with our studies and time out with friends and family," says Sangreela. She adds, "I want to become a police officer and will work towards that but life can change in mysterious ways. If I get a break in the national level while representing Manipur in the Miss India contest, that would be an honor for me."
- Miss Manipur 2011
- Contestant Profile of Sangreela Maisnam in Miss Manipur 2011
- Photo Profile of Sangreela Maisnam