Miss India 1992

A huge "kop khun krap" goes to Thorwee and Rhungroj for these fantastic exclusive pictures from Miss Universe 1992 in Thailand.

Madhu: "I think I am not perfect but a little bit okay." Dick Clark: "I think you're a lot of little bit okay."

Today she is one of India's top supermodels but this gold medalist in track-and-field just entered the Miss India competition simply for fun. She is the supreme Madhu Sapre, honored in the shrine for being a one of a kind notable contestant.

The year was 1992. The site was exotic Bangkok, Thailand. One of the heaviest competitions the Miss Universe pageant ever had was indeed this one. The stage was elaborately set as 78 stunning ladies from around the globe who vied for the Miss Universe title greeted the audience with palms pressed together exclaiming "Sawadee". Among them was 20-year-old Madhu Sapre. This parade of contestants featured some sensational ladies. Even the delegates who placed 11th to 20th looked like top 10 material proving how stiff this competition was. One particular standout was Miss Paraguay who will probably go down in history for having the most notable Miss Universe national costume seen here.

Yes, she could hardly walk in it. I have no idea how she managed to get this thing to Thailand!!

During the parade of nations, Madhu greeted the crowd in a colorful dress with gold shawl and said, "Namaste, I'm Madhu Sapre, got lots of love for you and from Bombay, India!" Her preliminary scores were very nice. She received an 8.91 for her in a tight gold bikini swimsuit which was 7th place, 9.15 for interview which was 3rd place, and 8.79 for evening gown which was 11th place, but each of those scores would jump significantly in the semifinal competition. Madhu placed 5th overall in the preliminaries with a score of 8.952. The one who swept the preliminaries by a landslide was Miss Venezuela, Carolina Izsak. But Madhu would rise up against this powerhouse but then fall.

Dick Clark called out the top ten and Madhu was announced 3rd of the ten. Coincidentally, Madhu was called in 3rd position for every competition after that! With a jazzy bass rift and pop music blaring over the airwaves. Madhu gave a little scream with eyes up in the air. Her hair was pulled back tightly unlike the preliminaries were she looked ravishing with her bangs loose. Her golden earrings dangled as she stepped forth in a pink swimsuit with a sarong tied around her waist. The special commentators, Leeza Gibbons said, "Madhu entered the Miss India pageant just for the fun of it. She just won it, in fact, a few weeks ago!" The swimsuit competition would follow and Angela Visser said that the ones to watch for were Miss Belgium because she had legs that could stop traffic (I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Anke van Dermeersch's legs are insured for a large amount!) and Miss India since this was also about fitness and she works out about two and a half hours a day. And it certainly did show!

Over the bridge the girls walked for the swimsuit competition, following Australia and Sweden came Madhu. They all stepped out in these tight pink swimsuits with embroidered collars. Madhu looked fit and fabulous. Her trip take said, "Health and fitness is very important to me because my father has been an athlete and he raised me to be an athlete. So for the last five years I've been working out regularly and I'm not on a strict diet but I do keep watch of what I eat." Madhu posed sticking out her left leg with her hands pinching the ends of her pelvis. Although she was among the shortest of the ten contestants, she pulled off 2nd place with a score of 9.321, not far from the leader Carolina Izsak's score of 9.357. There was a little intermission showing all the girls having a good time in Thailand. Madhu participated in a water throwing fight and there was a close up of her getting splashed wiping the water off her face wearing her tight gold bikini. That Madhu is such a sport!

The interview competition followed. Madhu strutted out in an excellent short white cocktail dress which had a flared skirt so it jangled as she walked. Dick Clark said that Madhu was a model, recent college graduate, and a junior national gold medalist in track and field. He then proceeded to say, "You're a very serious athlete. Who's your coach?" "My father." Madhu replied. "Is he difficult?" asks Dick. Madhu replies, "Not really, he's like a friend. I fight with him but we are back together again but when he has to be strict, he's very strict." The camera then gazed on Madhu's father watching his daughter on stage proudly. Dick asked, "Now you say you fight with him. What do you fight about with your father coach?" Madhu gave a cute little "oh no" type giggle and then immediately responded. "Most of the time, many times, I go, late night, out for parties and in the morning, I can't get up for jogging so he'll come and put water on me or, you know, pinch me or something so that time we fight!" The audience laughed out loud at the "water throwing" and it was clear that Madhu was a favorite. Dick asked if her father was in the audience. Madhu pointed him out and Madhu's father smirked a little looking a tad embarrassed. Dick goes, "Oh, I don't know if we can get a camera to him but she's saying he throws water. An alarm clock might have been easier!" Dick proceeded to ask, "You're obviously well-trained. What sort of person are you now with all of this heavy duty training?" Madhu replied, "Um, I can say that I have learned a lot after coming here. And I know how to take care physically, how to be fit, but after coming here, I know how to behave and how much I have to improve upon more so I think I am not perfect, but little bit okay!" Dick goes, "I think you're a lot of little bit okay. Thank you, Madhu Sapre, Miss India." Madhu stepped away and her unmistakable spark earned her a 9.508 which was the highest score of the first five ladies. Leeza said, "Miss India is the one to go for here!" However, 4 ladies in the other group of five somehow managed to beat her. They were Miss Colombia, Miss Venezuela, Miss Namibia, and Miss Belgium. Madhu was actually much better than these girls were but being among the first isn't necessarily always a good thing because the judges traditionally wear off towards the end. I would give credit to Miss Namibia and Miss Belgium who spoke very intelligently and carried off such poise.

Dancing in the streets of Thailand was the number in the middle spicing up the Thai people even more and Madhu sure did show that she was indeed a party girl and that she could groove to the beat. Shortly after came the evening gown competition. "You Are My Star", the anthem of the little sisters played as each of the ladies stepped out from a temple-like structure and walked down stairs to greet their little-sister-of-Thailand. Madhu wore a velvet red gown with a high cut slit up the skirt showing off her left leg and the chest had a sparkling, colorful, flowery pattern. Madhu's "little sister" handed her a corsage. She walked with her "little sister" forward a bit, palms pressed together with a little knee-bend bow to greet each other. It seemed fitting for Madhu to do the same greeting which is done for Indian people and also since Madhu was the only contestant from Asia in the top ten. She stepped forward and then walked away but Madhu had become a favorite. She may have placed 11th in the preliminary evening gown competition but again Madhu came in second with a score of 9.629. The highest score of 9.679 went to Miss Venezuela.

It came for the top 6 to be announced. They were Netherlands, Belgium, India, Venezuela, Namibia, and Colombia. Madhu came in 3rd at this point with an average score of 9.486 behind Miss Venezuela and Miss Colombia. But Miss Venezuela was wearing off. All eyes shifted to Madhu including those of Angela Visser and Leeza Gibbons. Leeza asked Angela who she thought would do well for the judge's questions. Angela said, "I think Miss India. She's really full of spark and she's funky and I really like her!" Leeza replied, "Have you heard the crowd? They are really behind Miss India!" "Yeah, they really are!" said Angela. It came time for the judge's questions. Netherlands and Belgium passed and then came Madhu. She chose the lucky judge number 2. Judge number 2 was proven lucky for the like of other top 3 delegates as India's Sushmita Sen in 94, India's Manpreet Brar in 95, Finland's Lola Odusoga in 96, and Venezuela's Marena Bencomo in 97, all of whom moved into the top 3. In 1992, judge #2 was the voice behind that show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", none other than Robin Leach. Robin asked Madhu, "If you could back into the past and change any event in history, which event would you choose and why?" Madhu gave an excellent answer, "Uh. If I could choose the past, I would love to go back to the day when the late prime minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was assassinated and she was killed and I would love to get her back again because I think she had a very dynamic personality and not only India but all over the world, they appreciated her for what work she did and I would definitely want her to come back." It was an emotional answer that impressed everyone. Leeza said, "Madhu is an athlete so she is used to competition and pressure but one could wonder if anything can prepare anyone for this." At that instant, Madhu's scores flashed on the screen. It was so distinct, two 9.5's, two 9.9's and the rest was a flush of 9.8's. The audience screamed with delight upon seeing these scores. Leeza even said, "WOW!". It was undoubtedly the highest score of the entire evening. Poor Miss Venezuela who was leading up until then had to follow but her answer was inadequate and the judge's shifted their attention to Madhu instead of Carolina. Carolina would not make it into the top 3 but India, Namibia, and Colombia would. Leeza asked Angela who would make the top 3. The first name she said was Miss India and Leeza immediately responded, "Absolutely!" and Angela thought that Venezuela would be in there instead of Colombia as did many other people.

Madhu competes in the preliminary swimsuit competition. Next to her is Miss Iceland who placed 11th overall because of her very poor interview score. Miss Iceland ranked 2nd in the preliminary swimsuit competition.

Madhu and Miss Colombia would go into the soundproof booth as Dick asked Miss Namibia the final question, "If you became leader of your country tomorrow, what is the first thing you would do?" Michelle replied, "I would speak to the children. Let them know that I'm there for them because they are the foundation of our every nation and I would let them know that I'm there for them." Miss Colombia said, "I guess I would orientate my people to a peaceful way. Show them the right way to walk to a life of happiness that is a life with peace." Madhu came out and gave the most genuine answer of the 3 ladies. "I think the first thing I'll do is, I'll open up a big, biggest, uh, I can say, sports track and field ground in India because I think we are lacking that and that's the first thing I'll do!" Madhu then gave a cute little smile and the ladies each took their turn to be voted for. Madhu stepped onto the platform and a magical cloud like mist suddenly appeared all around her.

The reigning Miss Universe, Lupita Jones of Mexico said her farewell and Dick announced that the second runner up was Miss India. Madhu gracefully walked off stage with a smile as she was handed flowers. Madhu didn't seem to be overly concerned or reactive. Remember she entered just for the fun of it! The first runner up was Miss Colombia and the new Miss Universe was Miss Namibia, Michelle McLean.

Above: Michelle McLean competes in the preliminary and semifinal swimsuit competitions.
Below: Michelle McLean greets the audience as the new Miss Universe.

The Aftermath. Does Madhu regret giving that final answer, which kept her from being her country's first Miss Universe? Heck, no!! In the book "Pride of India" depicting India's supreme queens, Madhu says this..."All the officials had told us that our answers had to be truthful," she says, "and coming from the heart. Nobody told us we had to be politically correct. I said what my heart told me and I lost. According to me India has been in poverty for many years, so it was not going to suddenly change in one year by my becoming the prime minister. But there are other areas like art and sports in which we can improve. And being a sportsgirl I had suffered because we don't have the equipment and the grounds in India. In the brief time you get to answer I wanted to say all this but perhaps because of my inadequacy in English, I could not express myself." There you have it...the real story behind that controversial answer.

It's a shame really how a language barrier can often change the situation. But Madhu was truly notable because the Miss India contests would not have had a swimsuit competition until Madhu convinced Pradeep Guha that it was essential. Pradeep felt that only three or four girls would enter the contest. But Madhu smartly stated to take those four girls and have the contest. Notice right after Madhu's appearance that India suddenly propelled in the pageant world suddenly earning numerous semifinalists and winners at Miss Universe, Miss World, and Miss International. It was Madhu's convincing that did for India. India does indeed owe a huge thank you to Madhu.

Madhu's also taken some heat for being featured in sexy ads like this sneaker ad in which she and her longtime boyfriend, model Milind Soman posed in the nude with a python coiled around them!

Madhu certainly has been thrust into the spotlight and she deserves it. Madhu's a party girl and life is "just for fun" for her.

Madhu, you certainly are "a lot of little bit okay" and much more!

(This article was written in 1999)