On Sunday 08 April 2018, the grand finals of Don Bella Beauty and Fashion Show were held at the iconic St Kilda Town Hall in Melbourne. The show was organised by Mr Ranz Bose and Mrs Neha Soudagar (AIBC/Ambassador for Little India, Dandenong).
Don Bella was a different beauty pageant. It crowned both male and female champions—Mr Don and Ms Bella. ‘Don’ is the Spanish honorific for mister; while ‘Bella’ is an adjective in Italian for beautiful woman.
The beauty contest saw participation from different multicultural communities of Australia. There were contestants from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Mauritius, Taiwan, South Sudan, China, South Africa, etc.; and from various states of Australia as well.
The judges for final rounds included big names like Former Ministerial Adviser Mr Nitin Gupta; Nelly Yoa (Soccer and AFL Player); Natasha Marchev (Bohemian Rhapsody Club); Latino beauty Tatiana Castiblanco; and Socialite Sophiya Rayat.
Beautiful Geelong girl Cay Ward was the energetic MC for the evening, who kept the audiences and contestants engaged throughout the evening. There were various dance and cultural performances as well during the contest.
This fashion show was unique in a way that as it brought the various multicultural beauty industry stakeholders under one roof. Especially this event has done heaps in terms of promoting Indian-African unity.
Good wishes for the event were sent by South Indian actress/producer Mrs Khushbu Sundar; and INC National Spokesperson Dr Shama Mohammed. Due to their busy schedules they could not join the grand finals in April 2018, but are expected to join one of the future events of Don Bella.
Indian Billionaire Hon. Naveen Jindal, and HH Prince Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar of Udaipur had also sent good wishes for the organisers, and all the contestants of the event.
NSW’s Kerry-Anne Peterson won the Crown in female or “Bella” category. Crowd favorite and Victorian contestant of Malaysian Tamil background Mahi Iyengar was the 1st Runner Up; while another Crowd favorite and Victorian beauty of African background Nyibol Gathoth was the 2nd Runner Up.
Victorian-Indian Akshay Taneja won the Crown in male or “Don” Category. Talented Kiron Martin was the 1st Runner Up; while another Crowd favourite and Victorian resident of African background—the handsome Charles Ayella was the second runner up.
Victorian poetess and AFL Ambassador Miss Sonal Sharma walked away with the coveted “Miss Congeniality” title. Various other male and female participants also won the supporting titles such as Ms and Mr Photogenic etc. While Ms Sidra Jutt—the contestant of Pakistani origin had also impressed few judges with her attitude and SWAG.
Commented former Ministerial Adviser Mr Nitin Gupta who was one of the Judges for the evening: “It was a quite tough competition. There were plenty of talented contestants around. I had voted for Victorians—Mahi Iyengar and Akshay Taneja to be the winners. But probably because of her enormous amount of charity work, and various other attributes NSW’s Kerry-Anne Peterson won the Crown in female category; while Akshay won in the male category for his overall performance. On a personal level I was also impressed a lot by Miss Sonal Sharma, and Ms Sidra Jutt. But again there was a panel of judges, and when our totals were accumulated, the final results were reflective of contestants who were able to impress the majority of judges.”
Talking about the concept Nitin further commented: “This fashion show was quite unique as it brought the various multicultural beauty industry stakeholders under one roof. Especially this event has done heaps in terms of promoting Indian-African unity and harmony. We need events like these that bring the two communities together, especially the youngsters. Perhaps VMC should seriously consider supporting the next edition of Don Bella.”
The sponsors and supporters for this unique beauty contest included Sana Malik (Rodan and Fields); Bullz Sports; Julia Tran from Julia Bridal; AIII; AIFI; Richmond Tigers FC; Community legend Ms Selba Gondoza Luka; and significant others.
The Indian Sun was one of the media partners for the show. Afri-Aus Care was the Charity Partner for the event.