a yo-yo night @ YGTL 2006
Pantene's You Got The Look (YGTL) has, over the past few years, established itself as a serious platform for young people aspiring towards a career in modelling. The interest in this pageant increases with every year, but even so, the organizers were hardly prepared for the overwhelming response: around two thousand young men and women from all corners of the country applied for a chance to win the coveted YGTL titles. Considering this, and considering all the time and effort spent on narrowing down the choices and preparing the final 21 to go head-on in the pageant, the event itself fizzled out somewhat.
This year's YGTL was held at the Winter Garden at the Hotel Sheraton, sponsored by Pantene Pro-V, Grameen Phone, Igloo, and Kodak, and the co-sponsors included Classic Billboards, Bangladeshinfo.com, and Radio Today FM 89.6
After a somewhat late start (the show, was slated to commence from 6:30 pm onwards), with the bulk of the audience squeezing past the phenomenal traffic jams to start arriving at around 8, the ball finally got rolling. The gorgeous Layla Plamondon was this year's MC, while the panel of judges included the evergreen Shakila Zafar, M. Rahman Chowdhury of Manobjomin, renowned photographer Mustafa Kamal Sayeed and Mr Nasir Ali Mohammad. The lucky 21, all suave and soignée in saris and O2 punjabis strutted their stuff for the benefit of the judges and audience, while the pre-recorded AV clips filled us in on the details. From the video introductions, it was apparent that none of the contestants lacked for spunk and spontaneity.
While the semi-finalists were being selected, Layla, having changed from a perfectly elegant sari to a denim skirt, cowboy hat and boots ensemble, attempted to entertain the crowds with her singing. Layla has a powerful voice, but whether she was just having a bad day, or it was the poor quality of the sound system (the judges' microphones were not working properly either) the opening number “These Boots are made for Walkin' ” barely sounded good coming from Jessica Simpson; on Layla, it was painful to listen to. Things went downhill from there as Layla followed it with Shakira's “Hips don't Lie”. For someone who doesn't possess either the signature yodel or the sinuous moves, it was brave of her to try and emulate the Colombian diva. Although the male half of the audience was whistling and catcalling away, the female half cringed until a sudden outburst from the fire alarms brought the song to an end. The MC dispelled the tension, however, by cheekily quipping 'I know I'm hot, but not that hot!”
Another AV presentation showed us the contestants chilling out at Fantasy Kingdom and Water Kingdom, which gave us further opportunity to catch a glimpse of their collective personalities. Then the contestants hit the ramp, this time in casuals, and they performed a quirky choreographe.d number. A lot of practice must have gone into this sequence, because each and every contestant performed unselfconsciously, and with confidence.
This was followed by another performance by Sandeep Diaz, all the way from Mumbai. A thorough entertainer, he kept the crowd singing along to Elvis, Pink Floyd, and Bon Jovi numbers, along with a highly energetic rendition of Shader Lau and some popular Bollywood hits, finishing with a jazzy duet with Layla.
Finally, the ten semi finalists were called on stage, the boys decked out in smoky black suits and the girls resplendent in red evening wear. The finalists included Hridi, Janet, Amit, Zamshed, Sunny, Narissa, Nova, Afzal, and Refayet. This round was the Q&A round. The questions were standard beauty pageant fare, but most of the answers were actually very innovative, proving that brains and beauty CAN co-exist. The most memorable instance was, in response to the question “Fame and Popularity: which would you pick?”, where the contestant sassily answered, 'Fame and popularity are two flowers from the same tree; I want the whole tree!”.
While the judges tallied the score, a musical AV was aired, showing glimpses of the entire YGTL journey, including moments from past pageants, and focusing on behind-the-scenes glimpses of this year's contest. All this while, a band was being set up on stage, and this being completed, James took the stage. Now, this man needs no introduction; from the moment he picked up the guitar, he owned the stage. Singing several of his best-known tracks, and finishing with an explosive rendition on his song Na jane koi from the Bollywood blockbuster Gangster, he had the audience head-banging to his rhythm.
While the band cleared out, the lovely Layla obliged us all with one last song; this one being a throaty cover of Whitney Houston's I will always love you.
Finally, with barely an hour left to midnight, the moment of truth arrived. All 21 finalists were called back on stage and the supplementary awards presented. Now as expected and desirable as one or two awards in this section might have been, there was a mounting total of 9 supplementary awards including Best Smile to Zamshed and Nova, Best Attitude to Janet and Afzal, Best Skin won by Tanzila and Sunny, Most Photogenic awarded to Reshad and Tulona, Most 'Cool' to Nova and Amit, Most Intelligent awarded to Narissa and Talha (who wasn't even amongst the finalists) and so on (and on). With different awards for male and female contestants for every category, it is no wonder that nearly every contestant had a goody (sash) to go home with. When this seemingly endless list did come to an end, two-thirds of the audience long gone by then, Shagota and Russel, the winners of 2005 were called on stage to hand over their titles. This final presentation ceremony left a lot to be desired in terms of organisation. Everything seemed good to go when the winners of the Best Look award, Zamshed and Nova, were crowned but within seconds of the announcement, the first mistake was realised and their misplaced sashes meant for the best hair awardees were switched. This was followed by the crowning of the best hair winners, Reshad and Namira but this too was adorned with a hiccup. As the four winners beamed on stage, ready to smile their miss universe smiles, Layla in an apologetic tone announced that the two sets of winners should be reversed, with the best look award going to the best hair winners and vice-versa. While the smiles vanished and the crowd grew restless, a third correction was announced in that the right winners had been announced for the right awards and no changes were needed. We left the venue, ladies and gentlemen, partially unimpressed and partially amused at the way the show was run this year, half expecting to hear MC's husky voice re-announce the winners all over again even as we mounted our vehicles.
By Sabrina F Ahmad and Subhi Shama Reehu
Photo: Zahedul I Khan