Sushmita Sen


BEAUTY IS BEAUTY DOES | PICTURE GALLERY | OTHER INTERNATIONAL BEAUTIES | MORE INDIAN BEAUTIES | Aishwarya Rai | Anna Kournikova | Brooke Shields | Cindy Crawford | Alicia Silverstone | Salma Hayek | Demi Moore | Kate Winslet | Anu Agarwal | Martina Hingis | Steffi Graf | Sharon Stone | Gabriela Sabatini | Samantha Fox | Rani Mukherjee | Manisha Koirala | Anjala Zaveri | Simran | Shilpa Shetty | Keerthi Reddy | Juhi Chawala | Raveena Tandon | Madhuri Dixit | Sushmita Sen | Pooja Batra | Hema Malini


I love Life
I prefer to forget What I don't remember to do
I dig Deep into people's heart
I get turned on by Men like Brad Pitt & Antonio Banderas
My biggest assets A head & a shoulder placed perfectly in place
My sex appeal My eyes & smile
My passion Poetry and my two babies Jaan & Zen
My greatest necessity Friends with Love
My sorrow Never to be able to show it in open
My most unforgettable moment 5:am 21st May 94 - Miss Universe '94
My favourite bedroom line Wake me up before you go - go
My strength My confidence
My favourite possession My baby's heart
My special ability Always a survivor never a victim
My most embrassing moment Don't remember
What bored me most Listening to people on topic they know nothing about
What pained me most Too much of love
What I avoid most Embrassing situations
What tires me most Thinking
What touches me most my underwear
My Birthday 19th Nov. 1975 / A Scorpio (I Sting)

If you believe, you can make it.

(Source : Stardust, April 1996 )


In the hush that followed the Miss India contest, most of the country had quite forgotten about the upcoming Miss Universe competition, to be held on May 21, in Manila, the Philippines. Unlike the Miss India contest, this one was not advertised as a 'live' broadcast. Then, the thunder struck. The news broke loose. All wires activated. India had won! A leggy Delhi belle with the most compelling personality, towered over 76 other beauties in the most viewed and talked-about international pageant. It was our very own 'Gandhi and khadi' girl, Sushmita Sen! A story that had to be.

It is not everyday that an 18-year-old fuels the international news machine: tabloids, news agencies, broadsheets, and multinational networks. It is not everyday that naivety is seamlessly married to a profoundly philosophical personality. It is hardly ever that an intelligent, articulate young woman; is equally expressive in the mute, very physical world of modeling. Hardly an adult, yet making a very adult living (now, tax free!). A child, who speaks of downtrodden children. A girl, who waxes hauntingly eloquent on the essence of womanhood. A person reared in the cocoon of cantonment life, in a middle-class suburb of Delhi, now showered with attention of global proportions. An ambassador of feminine beauty, peace, love, and optimism, at an age most kids are worried about getting a driving-license and a drinking permit. That's Sushmita Sen. That's Miss Universe, 1994. Representative of a nation of some 900 million people. Now, representative of humanity's higher aspirations: charity, love, and bringing happiness to the unfortunate.

Life, at its best, is unpredictable. It doesn't promise you anything, it doesn't take you by the hand, or show you all your destinations. For some, life just doesn't have any revelations. For others, it is a mellow tide, with occasional tidal waves. For Sushmita, life in its entirety, is obviously an unending ride upon the storm. It is apparent when you watch the post-Miss India interviews. The girl (between peals of warm laughter) revealed that when her father refused to let her go to the disco, she wrote a poem. Not surprisingly, it dwelled on the significance of "moments", moments which "pass like mice, don't let them pass you by." Youth is wasted on the young, goes a saying that stands corrected when confronted with Sen. For Sen has all the physical advantages of youth, and the wisdom associated with years of experience: The youngest among the 77 contestants at the Miss Universe pageant, she was yet the least predictable. Each round of questions met with soulful, reflective replies. Unlike Miss Venezuela, whose smiles got a bit profuse, and Miss Colombia, whose signature concern with pregnant, unwed mothers became repetitive, Sen's controlled; philosophical words carried a seductive resonance.

Take that poetic temperament (obviously inherited from her maternal grandfather, who was a poet) and fuse it with hardcore ambition and practicality, and what can you expect, but a winner? According to Ramesh Menon, a freelance journalist and friend of Sen, the young lady knew she had to make an impact at first opportunity. She thought over many ways to introduce herself in the introductory national costume parade, and then hit on: "Namaste, I am Sushmita Sen from India, where love is the essence of life!" Her' instincts couldn't have been sharper. The very first round of questions tackled her on what she meant by her announcement. Pat came her answer. India was multi-racial (her word, "multi-national' was absurd, but she was quick to support it by the phrase 'in the sense that'), it was a Goliath of a country; with 168 languages, no less. That we live in a state of relative harmony, is an indication that this is a nation of love. The shocking confidence in her categorical, positive assertion, had everyone charmed, if not convinced. Somehow with a few lines, she had--momentarily-obviated Kashmir, Assam, religious fundamentalism, and other bleak facts of Indian life. It was just as elegant as her, suave statement at the 'Femina Miss. India contest, that as far as she knew, 'the textile tradition of India began with khadi and Gandhi!

Sen is intelligent, but it is an intelligence as yet untainted by realism. Before all this happened, hers was yet a gossamer world, tipped between the cradle and the crown. Creative rather than literal, poetic rather than pedantic, it is these very qualities that endeared her to the viewers and judges. Take, for example, the manner in which she answered a most prosaic question. What sort of adventure would she undertake, had she the time and the money? "I believe that adventure is within myself and I would look for adventure in any child not. only a downtrodden child; but any child." A question so geographical, so tangible, was turned by Sen into a key to a profound insight!.

And of course, Sen didn't disappoint in that hair-splitting, fortuitous final round. What is the essence of a woman? Pause. A pause that showed, again, a fine degree of self-control and self-confidence. Sen was not going to take this round lightly. This was the purgatorial stage of the contest. Heaven or oblivion lay on either side. When she devoted the last month of her stay in Bombay, exclusively again, to prepare for the pageant, she was well warned by Sathya Saram, editor of Femina that there must be no compromise. A little slackness, defeat, and she would return to the country with no honors, no fans, no reception. Sen had seen how past Miss Indias, namely Madhu Sapre and Namrata Shirodkar missed the glory by just a few words. A few mistaken, weak syllables.

"Just being a woman is God's gift" Sen's husky voice broke over 600 million television viewers, and an auditorium containing some 20,000 odd people. Then came spontaneous inspiration: "The origin of a child is a mother, a woman. Woman is sharing she shows a man what sharing, caring, and loving is all about. That is the essence of a woman."

So what made her answer so full? So elemental? Structure. It was clinched, like the lyrics of a song. It was confident in its minimalism. Couched in a gentle voice which conveyed. tremendous conviction. What Sen said, somehow sounded like an old proverb, sifted from the myths and wisdom of an ancient civilization.

It is hard to believe that a girl could appear to be so accomplished with so fundamental an education socially, or academically. Then she is a Scorpio and Lord knows one can't take them for granted. Her schooling predominantly in the Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute, seems to have stood her in more than good stead. In so many ways, the little Titan or Titu (her pet name) is just like any other urbane Indian kid. She loves beer, spaghetti bolognaise, movies, like Roja, Pretty Woman, Overboard, books like My Feudal Lord (by Tehmina Durrani), and behold, STAR TV soaps like Santa Barbara and The Bold and the Beautiful! She freaks on ghazals, country music, soul, adores her dog Peps, loves holidaying in Goa, and thinks of Kishore Kumar and Raj Kapoor with nostalgia. She is deeply disturbed by begging children, and when asked about her attitude towards life, claims that "I made up my mind to walk up the stairs rather than take the lift."

It is obvious that the English Honors student wanted more than just a degree and some dingy job as a journalist. Observes Ramesh Menon: "I first met Sush after her class ten board finals. Over the next two years, she was armed with a portfolio that did not bring her much work. She had but a sprinkling of fashion shows. Then, soon after Miss India '93 was crowned, Sush seemed to know what she wanted. She had another portfolio done, and by this time, had completed her class twelve, She wasn't very inclined to attend regular college. What better pastime than modeling? For all her simplicity, she loved the glitter and glamour, and the money that came with it!"

The transformation from girl-next-door to supergirl was gradual Sen was now pitching to be the best in the business. She got an audition with Shantanu Sheorey last September. Though the results were fabulous, he did not need her. During this time, Menon recalls, "Sush was a very demanding, possessive, yet loving and caring friend. She needed attention all the time. And she sought lots of love from her friends. But she could also be very strong, adamant, and give a damn as to what the world at large felt."

At an inaugural party of the AIPA workshop on Photography in Delhi in October, she stunned quite a few lensmen with her cool demeanour and sense of humour. "You've got to introduce me to the Bombay guys," she told Menon. Time flew as Sen continued to plough opportunities in Delhi, for the big break. And that's when the forms for Miss India '94 appeared. Case closed!

"She has an uncanny gift of persuasion," reflects '93 Miss Universe runner-up, Namrata Shirodkar, "After she won the Miss India title, and took up professional modelling, I saw her arriving late for a couple of shows. She was still new; a bit disorganised with dates. I took her aside, asked her to be careful But even then, I observed how easily she handled people. She cooled tempers with great tact and was so convincing."

"If questioned about something wrong she had done, she'd very wittily make you see her point of view. Very quick on the uptake; she would use her intelligence to sail through any situation," beams her father, Mr. Sen, a retired Air Force commander. Says Ramma Bans, her fitness instructor, who supervised Sen's yoga and weight-lifting routine: "For someone so young, she never gave the impression of being carried away. There were days when you marvelled at her lack of privacy; the number of commitments she had. But she remained simple, very down-to-earth."

Says Kaushik Ghosh, who runs a modelling school in Delhi, and met Sen at an audition for a fashion show. "I could see that she had the height and the confidence to make it, but lacked the polish of a model, and needed some training with her walk and posing. In December '92, she participated in the first show of her life, at Siri Fort Auditorium, Delhi, and then in my show in January 93. At that time, some well-known models wanted to stage a walk-out because they felt that Sen was too new. But I was adamant. She constantly questioned me about her shortcomings, so she could better herself. She never bitched about anybody, even if the models and choreographers gave her a rough time. Hers is a real Cinderella story. I'm proud that she made it."

"I want to see you in the 10 finalists," was what Sen's wardrobe designer, Sangeeta Chopra told her. Chopra's pet phrase, "she's no bimbo-beauty" is illumined when you hear her say, "Sush has a vibrant personality. She is self-assured, but in a pleasant way. I sensed her nervousness when she left. But I knew she believed in herself. She was thrilled about having won a token title, "Luckiest Contestant." But I told her I'd only be satisfied with the crown!"

Recalls Sathya Saran, "Once, after winning her Miss India title, she was flying back to Delhi on completion of a shoot in Bombay. I asked her to help herself, call up the airlines and book her own ticket. When she called, she had to identify herself. The moment she said Sushmita Sen, the airlines told her not to worry, they'd find a seat for her even if they were full up. She couldn't believe she was so well-known. I told her, of course, you are known. You're a national celebrity!"

This earthy rootedness is just what impressed fashion columnist Meher Castelino. "A lot of successful models, when contacted for an interview, are obliging, but abrupt. Sushmita was so warm, I felt like I had known her for years. She was totally punctual, had all her photos in place, so I could choose from them." Castelino also marvels at Sen's verbal virtuosity. "I've watched her in several interviews, and noticed that she keeps her mind very cool, uncluttered. She either pauses, or repeats the question. That is a clever way of gaining two to five seconds, to sort out your ideas. She never had her foot in her mouth.

"There are reports claiming that Sen practised pat replies to questions with a Karaoke microphone, getting voice projection, intonations, pronunciations; correct. Reveals her boyfriend, Rajat Tara, an export merchandiser with Benetton, "She worked hard at preparing herself. She'd say 'C'mon! Ask me questions, and I'd sportingly start off: 'Miss Sen, what would you do if you were to...!* She always had answers!"

Words never fail a poet, do they? Apparently Sen was loved even at work, where she could keep up a constant patter, between striking those professional poses. She was acquainted with sher-o-shayaris, and even ventured into a duel with actor Shatrugan Sinha once, just after they'were'introduced before a TV recording!

Probe a little deeper, and you see other forerunning factors that have helped Sushmita Sen become such a confident, articulate teenager. Her mother always treated her as an adult. Said she, in a recent published interview: "Sushmita was never a problem child. At a young age, she was stubborn, not arrogant. What she wanted, she wanted. She was a very social (sic) child, maybe because I took her wherever I went. From a kitty party to any ladies club function. She has lots of friends and her birthday parties were always a grand, much-awaited event."

It is obvious that mother and daughter shared a strong relationship. Sen claims that the influence on her career is her "mom." In her heyday, Mrs. Sen who is, even today, more glamorous than her daughter, was offered the Bombay Dyeing campaign, but turned it down and got married. She always told her daughter, "Either you will zoom up in life or you'll go down into the dumps," She had enough confidence in her growing daughter to tell her what was good and bad, and allow her to choose. Before Sen left for the Miss India contest, mother and daughter talked for several days. Mrs. Sen warned her at the airport, that there is such a thing as an 'upset', too, and encouraged her to keep her equilibrium, to be natural, and be herself. The next morning, the papers had declared her daughter to be Miss India, 1994

Sen's father has also contributed to her remarkable personality. "What I gave her and my son (who is 13 and in school), right from the beginning, was freedom to express themselves in whatever way they wanted, but within certain parameters, And I think that is what stood them in good' stead." Added to this liberalism, was the constant change of setting for the growing Sen. Born in Hyderabad, her family was posted in Nagpur, then Jorhat, and finally in Delhi, where she attended the Air Force Silver School, over the last decade, In one televised interview, Sen had mused over the pluses and minuses of cantonment life," Being part of the 'camp' kept you isolated from outside realities. "But you also meet people who are genuine, who know you well, and encourage you sincerely."
The doctrine of-discipline, Sen learnt to respect from her father. A man who, today, is fending for space between the 40 to 50 presswallahs after him because he fathered this year's Miss Universe! Anyway, what better time to reflect on this wondergirl? "I recall a time when Sushmita was just seven. She had slipped from a slide and cut her head, The gash was deep, we rushed to the hospitaL There, the doctor asked her to choose whether she wanted to be stitched up while conscious, or unconscious, with anaesthesia. What is anaesthesia' she asked tbe doctor. He asked her if she could bear the pain of being stitched without it... 'Do you think I can?' she counter-questioned the doctor. He told her if she was brave, she could. And she made her decision. No anesthesia. The girl was silent through out the procedure. It was only when she bid the doctor goodbye, and leaned against me in the car, that she admitted to the pain.

"You know, as a kid, she'd never really study hard, but listen to her mother or me read out her lessons. Then, she'd repeat the whole lesson verbatim. If I questioned her, about whether she had understood what she said, she'd say I'll just show you,' and go to her room. There, she'd write the gist of it in the form of a poem. She was always doing that.

"I remember, once we were all watching a Miss Universe contest, when she was 15. Her comment was, 'You know papa, I don't think many of these girls come across as really beautiful, except maybe one or two.' I remember teasing her that if she was interested in beauty contests, she should participate in the Air Force Club Contest, and she turned around and told me, I'll aim right for the ultimate!'"

But even ex-Wing Commander, daddy Sen, couldn't believe just how much potential this little girl had. "It hasn't sunk in yet," he repeats, hours after the mega event. "I'm still trying to grapple with the reality. I've been getting so many phone calls from people whom I don't even know. In fact, I didn't see the contest live. When I got a call from my brother in L.A. that Sushmita had won the Miss Universe crown, I couldn't quite believe it. The implications have still not sunk in, I can only say that she has done me proud"

If her father feels fulfilled, her grandpa must be credited with almost prophesying what lay ahead. Soon after her Miss India triumph, he wrote her a note straight from the heart: My dear Titu Sona, one crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name, You've become a national celebrity overnight as the most beautiful girl in the country. The glory you have attained as Miss India has taken us all your parents, and all dear and near ones, by storm. We are still feeling submerged in a floodside of ecstasy and excitement. You have justifiably deserved God's Grace in this unique endeavour and achievement. Your title Miss India 1994 will be a golden passport for universal applause, admiration and recognition." That last bit challenged the dim line that separated Sen's present from her future. Within the space of five months (between the two contests), Sen's life was completely overhauled!

Sushmita Sen declared on Surabhi that beauty contests are actually personality contests. All her well-wishers reminded her that her personality was her USP. The microphone was as crucial a tool of communication, as her appearance on the camera. Just as Sen understood that a model communicates largely with the eyes, without speech, she realised what kind of impact she would have to create as candidate for a world ambassador.

She was aware of her lack of conventional beauty. She once said, in an interview, "I know I am not beautiful. To me, Madhuri Dixit is beautiful. I am nothing." One newspaper described her as having "eyebrows upon which you could rewrite the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice." Before leaving, she confessed to counting on more than just the exteriors. "Intelligence, poise, wit, all of these count a lot in international contests."

Exactly the qualities Rajat Tara, Sen's boyfriend, assured her made her special. He was a pillar, of emotional support, throughout ' her climb, and is now, too. "To be very honest; I always thought Sush had potential. She always had ample confidence and a wonderful way of putting forward her thoughts. When she was in Manila, I used to speak to her almost every day,. telling her 'You're going to crack it.' She is a very sensitive, loving, emotional, fun,.down-to-earth kind of person. She knows where she's going.

"She called me up the day she won, and her feelings were exactly what came through in her pictures, splashed in the newspapers. She was numb, blank, and extremely thrilled. She could hardly speak because of a bad throat; due to making so many speeches!."

He feels no pangs of insecurity, now that his girlfriend has became a superstar, "When she became Miss India, I was told by my friends that it would be tough on me. But nothing changed. Sushmita had no airs, and was still very caring." He points out that she loves children, and often stopped on the road to talk to a little boy or girl. Marriage is definitely on the cards, but it can wait: According to Menon, Sen said marriage was a good eight to ten years away. And everybody understands.

"She's got a little of everything," analyses Sathya Saran. "She's got the height. She's got the spirit that lights her up; which compensates for her lack of classical beauty." Fashion choreographer, Lubna Adams, points out that her poise and grace seem effortlessly consistent. "On stage, she is very aware of her audience's moods: She has incredible presence of mind."

The consistent confidence intrigues almost everyone, considering that circumstances during both the contests hardly fed it. In the Miss India contest, the exotic, light-eyed Aishwarya Rai had the support of millions of TV viewers, who had a powerful glimpse of her "Hi, I am Sanjana" role in the Pepsi campaign. Then again, at the Miss Universe contest, anchorpersons Arthel Neville and Angela Visser, gushed over the Miss Belgiums, the Miss Venezuelas, and Miss Colombias. Neither the Indian press, nor the Phillipino press, made much of a fuss about Sen, prior to her victories.

In fact, there are still debates on whether Aishwarya Rai would also have taken the crown, had she been sent for the Miss Universe pageant. Sharbari Dhole maintains that when Sushmita started doing photo-sessions with blue contact lenses, it was a desperate bid to borrow Aishwarya's charm. Dhole also scoffs at Sen's body: "Do you call that a figure?" But supporters of Sen are quick to refute the charges. Says Rasna Behl, fashion show producer, "Contact lenses are a trend across the board. All the actresses are wearing them. Now, even male models and actors use them!" As for Sen's scrawny build, Sangeeta Chopra has only nice things to say. "She has no flaws that need hiding. No fat thighs, or hips, or hunch. All she needed was to work on her biceps, triceps, and pectorals, and gain a kilo, which she did before she left!"

Says Prabhuddha Dgsgupta, acdaimed photographer, who was on the panel of judges for the Miss India contest: "What appeals is her poise and honesty, which came through even in the Miss India contest, while other contestants like Aishwarya came across as too smart and too prepared to win. Sushmita came across as herself, and said what she felt. In fact; I feel she has a very well-rounded personality for her age."

Harbans Mody, who shot her for her first portfolio, and then again after she became Miss India, testifies to her character: "There was no change in her at all. No airs, nothing. She had her head firmly on her shoulders. And she didn't charge a paisa. That's the real Sushmita."

At the press conference held subsequent to the Miss India contest, it was easy to see that of the two, Sen was far more at ease with herself. Rai arrived half an hour late, in a tight black stocking dress, more suited to a night event, with a full regalia of make-up on. Sen was on time, wore a modest suit-dress, had hardly any make-up on, and plonked herself comfortably next to the journos.

"Aishwarya is definitely prettier," says Sen's acquaintance, and designer, Ashley Rebello. "But at some point, she got over confident," he condudes, somewhat finally. With all due credit to Ms. Sushmita Sen's oratorial talents and natural poise, one can't help pulling back from the nitty-gritties to take a wide-angled look at the current dynamics behind beauty contests. Is there a pattern of political correctness in the decision of who makes it to the finalists, from a group of 77 contenders? Are stereotypes of international beauty dominated by the Anglo Saxon, Caucasian blonde hair and blue eyes, being challenged?

In the summer of '88, the Miss Universe pageant was held in Taiwan, a newly recognised power-economy. All the three winners that year were from the Far East. Miss Universe was Miss Nakhirunkanok (Miss Thailand), and the runners-up were from Japan and Korea. It was not difficult to relate this to the fact that Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, and Thailand were emerging as strong economies.

So also, India has suddenly dawned on the powers-that-be; as the 'Waking Elephant', the largest democracy, the largest free market economy. The Miss Indias over the last four years have been placing in the final ten, and many opine that it was just a matter of time before one took the crown.

Recalls Namrata Shirodkar, who ranked fourth runner-up last year: "Four US judges told me they had done their best to help me win. They were very sorry that I didn't." So also, she points out, the venue of the contest makes a difference. When she went to the Phillipines, for the Miss Asia-Pacific, contest, she felt a lot of support from the Phillipinos in the audience. "Of course the pageant is politically correct," laughs Ashley Rebello. "I won't be surprised if the next Miss Universe is from Bosnia!"

But optimism reigns. Rasna Behl maintains that there is a general upsurge of interest in Indian girls, in the world of international fashion. "Indian looks are very versatile. An Indian model can wear an ethnic ensemble just as naturally as a western creation, There is a tremendous demand for Indian models in the Gulf; they find their dark hair, dark eyes, very exotic: In London, there are agencies that deal only with Asian models." Sathya Saran believes that any Miss Universe candidate from a Third World country is more informed, than a First World candidate. "This is because the former are upwardly mobile, they educate themselves about their own country and the dominant cultures, making them better cultural ambassadors."

Sen's designer, Sangeeta Chopra, was careful to pack her an integral wardrobe, the, 25-odd outfits containing traces of both ethnic wear, and western wear "Sushmita was wrongly advised to 'carry all traditional clothes, or to carry ultra-mod, glamorous clothes. Neither one accurately represents today's Indian woman."

Sure, the images of Sen in her angavastram, resplendent in gold and copper, or her black and white pinafore cocktail dress, or the glittering silver white evening gown (the most lingering, for obvious reasons), have etched themselves in the memories of millions of young Indian women, who can now dare to dream of an international title.

Sushmita Sen is living history, as the first Indian Miss Universe in the 43-odd years of the pageant's existence, The first Indian to'"be assured of millions of dollars in her vanity bag, super-prestigious promotional contracts, a total of $250,000 worth, gifts and prizes. (Which includes a dazzling diamond brooch studded with one hundred diamonds on 18 kt gold and platinum, a Hammerman original, valued at US $20,000. A luxury apartment in Los Angeles, Califomia, USA. A swanky sportscar of the latest international model. A 32-carat diamond jewellery collection consisting of matching earrings, bracelet, and ring made especially for Miss Universe!) Sen is also the first Indian to "give up the reality of being an Indian for the next one year, to become a citizen of the world." Probably one of the first Indian teenagers ever known to be in a position to work on issues like needy children, poverty, politics and feminism.

It will be hard work. Constant chaperoning to banquets, dinners, fund-raisers, and diplomatic dos. No proximity to friends, boyfriend, family. Will the trimmings of glory intoxicate the 18-year-old idealist? One who was content to sit with quill and paper, jotting whimsical denotations of casual inspiration? Will she, like Reita Faria, Miss World in '66, settle overseas forever and abandon the country for glamrous opportunity? Probably not. The ardent support she showed for Gandhi, her nationalistic responses to congratulations, and her closeness to her family, all veto these possibilities. The girl seems to have brought national glory with her very birthday, which coincides with Indira Gandhi's. She was crowned on the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, a man whose prime vision was seeing the youth consolidate a ever! new India. And if she but looks around her, she will notice that India is acquiring a new status. The prime minister's reception in the joint house of Parliament, in Washington, led to unprecedented coverage in the western media. The London Times called India a "proud but thin-skinned nation." The US Forbes magazine (May '94) declared India "the biggest emerging market of all." The New York Titnes, The Washington Times, and The Los Angeles Times also featured lengthy analyses of India's economic reforms. Zoom in to the Cannes Film Festival, and one sees a similar sensitivity tolndia. Three films from the subcontinent have been featured in the main sections, for the first time in a decade!

Yes, Sushmita Sen, you've done it. Same say you'll join a top American university, mould your remarkable mental resources, and join the. U.N. Others say you'll gravitate to Hollywood, or haute pastures. Whatever it is you do, please remain Indian. As proud and thin-skinned as they come!

(Source : Society, June, 1994)


If they were to make a movie on the life of Miss Universe, don't you think it would have to be an "inspirational?" The synopsis might go like this: glamorous girl, much sought-after, frantically hounded, terrified of freakish fans, gains confidence, masters her career and becomes deliriously devoted to one man. Sushmita Sen - The Miss Universe with a starring role in Mahesh Bhatt's Dastak is attempting something similar. Interesting, isn't it? You've seen the glitz and glamour surrounding the enviable girl already. Now the curtain goes up on the life riddled with insecurities and complexities. Is she really God's favourite or a harried soul like any girl-next-door trying to come to terms with the vagaries of life?

Taking in Sushmita's serene beauty, her lovely eyes, her sensuous visage and her long lustrous tresses that she tosses with abandon - few would think that she could also be riddled with fear and foibles. On this day when we meet her at Kamal Amrohi Studios, she is clearly in her element. As she flashes a brilliant smile and outstretches her hand for a firm and warm handshake, she exudes an air of conviviality. She's currently working on Mahesh Bhatt's Dastak which will herald her entry in filmbiz. Her energy level seems high as she exchanges pleasantries with those around. Dressed in a long, skin-tight skirt and a pink blouse, she looks well- rested, though she may have been through a series of hectic story sessions for the better part of the day. No wonder she agrees to settle down for the interview instantly. It confirms the buzz around town about her professional attitude. Although presently she's chosen to keep the hacks at bay, she entertains our request for an interview honouring an earlier commitment. She initiates the conversation with, "I guess I have created an impression about being off the Press. Rightly or wrongly, I don't know. But I do want to lie low for a while. At least, away from the snoopy scribes. I'm fed up of the vile media onslaught which threatens to vitiate my life - oh! how the vicious gossip maligns one!"

Surely, the grapevine has been abuzz with the most bizarre stories about Sushmita Sen and her lifestyle. Tell-tales accused her of being a two-timer (romancing a high-flying Vicky while carrying on with ex-boyfriend, Rajat Tara). Then the focus turned on her wild lifestyle and silicon breasts. Obviously, she's sick to the gills about all this tittle-tattle, so no questions about her personal life, okay? And she won't even field queries about anything controversial. Well, there's much more to her than scandals and controversies. "Oh, yes," she radiates a smile. "And that's what we're going to talk about." We slide into her black Cielo and have a heart-to-heart.

Had this daughter of an Air Force Oficer pre-planned to take the world by storm? "No, no, I didn't even dream of it in my wildest of dreams. I was very introvert as a child. Not the one to ever take the initiative and participate in any activities in school. I was always scared of being laughed at. But during the last three years of school, I somehow mustered courage and started participating actively in dramatics and debates. Once I made bold to come on stage, I wanted to be centre-stage. So I gave my best shot to whatever I did, always hoping to excel. So maybe that desire translated itself into reality and I always finished first in any contest, any competition," she says confidently.

And that confidence was well vindicated when Ms. Sen faced the toughest competition and came out trumps. But being No.1 in the film industry is a different ball game altogether. The rough and tumble in a scramble to reach the top can wither the hardiest of egos. "That's where lies the challenge," she smiles. "Doing films was more of a challenge than anything else for I'd already earned name, fame and money. When all those irresistible film offers came along, I thought, why not give acting a try and see if I am good at this also. As for the competition, I guess I will be able to face it here too. That will be my crowning glory." Since she had so many Hindi films, what prompted her to do a Tamil film first? "See, when I made up my mind to enter films, I wanted an outstanding role in my debut film. With the Ms. Universe title to live up to, nothing mediocre would have been suitable. By chance I happened to be in the South for a charity function, when Kunjumon approached me with a script. A quaint love story especially written for me. I was impressed. And to top it all, I got a chance to work with the music director of my choice (A.R.Rehman) and my favourite hero (Nagarjuna)."

Anyway, that's her debut film in the South. What about her debut film in Hindi? "Dastak where I play myself (that is Ms. Universe) will be my debut film here. I have a very strong role in the film being directed by Mahesh Bhatt. I don't think I could ask for anything better." Being beautiful is one thing but being a good actress requires a fair amount of talent. How does she rate herself as an actress? She smiles, "Once upon a time I thought acting was the easiest job around. But it's tough. It requires an amazing amount of talent and lots and lots of hard work. Initially when I saw somebody enacting a scene or dancing I felt I could also do that. But when I got down to doing it, it was quite painstaking. And I realised that it got tougher with each take. You have to give a number of expressions. And being a perfectionist, I get very frustrated when things don't work out the way they should. But then Mahesh Bhatt comes to my rescue and makes it all work. He even lets you do your own thing sometimes. Slowly it's all sorting itself out. Things are not as tough now, as they were earlier."

Yes, the girl has definitely learned her skills. For those who have seen the rushes of her film are seemingly impressed by her performance. The girl who was so keen to take up journalism now has a kind of aversion to the profession. Why? "Journalism used to and still intrigues me greatly," she says candidly. " In fact, I regularly write a column for a Bengali newspaper in Calcutta. It's something I thoroughly enjoy doing even now. But if I gave up the idea of taking it up as a profession, it's because I found journalists and journalism very different from the image I had in mind. I didn't like what I saw." Did she have any pre-conceived notions about the film industry as well? And was it different from what she had imagined it to be?

"See, entering films was the last thing on my mind. So there was no question of forming any impressions. But I'd definitely heard what's commonly said about the industry - you know what I mean, the exploitation, the casting couch and the rest. That did intimidate for starters but good sense prevailed when I realised that the good, the bad and the ugly are to be found in every profession. And once here, I felt it wasn't so bad after all. People in this industry are discerning enough to know who's to be exploited and who's not." With an author backed role in her Tamil venture as also in Dastak, Sushmita's future looks rosy and picture-perfect. But will she be able to sustain this bout of good fortune, with a steady stream of meaty roles in an essentially male dominated industry? "I don't know really, but I would definitely not want to do just any film, because I have to live up to certain expectations. Till now, I've been quite lucky for I share equal screen time with the heroes in all the films that I've signed. No decorative roles for me, please. If I'm only required to dance around trees in a film, I could well be called a dancer and not an actress."

What with an ultra mod image a la ZeenatAman and Parveen Babi, would she not be restricted to playing a glam doll? "I'm very fond of Zeenat Aman. In fact, everybody thinks I resemble her a lot and I take that as compliment. There may be certain likeness in the appearance and mannerisms but I definitely don't look as Westernised as her. I'm malleable enough to fit into the Western as well as the conventional mould. The current crop of roles do project me as a glamour girl keeping my Ms. Universe title in mind. But I'm surely going to experiment with less glamorous and more substantial roles. Infact, I'm looking forward to playing a village girl with conviction, that would be the biggest challenge of my life."

Hoping to scale the unprecedented heights of glory on her film career, what does she lay the stress on? "Hmm. That's very interesting. I think confidence in oneself is of utmost importance, coupled with a lot of patience. You know what I mean. However talented and confident you may be, you cannot rush things. You have to persevere to succeed. And after attaining success, you must not lose your head if you wish to sustain it. Because being up there is like being on top a mountain with several people trying to pull you down. So it's tougher to sustain success than to attain it."

What if her hopes came to a naught? "You can never be sure of anything for that matter - success or failure depends on your luck. Even if I don't succeed as I expect to, I don't think it would put me down in any way. I'd learn from my mistakes and do better."

Weaned on pageantry, pomp and glory - blazed the trail for some of the finest hours for her motherland. Will she ever escape the enormous shadow of her triumphant moment? Well, guess what? The shadow has just gotten larger.....

(Source : Tinsel Town)


India's first claim to fame in the international beauty arena, Sushmita Sen charmed a million viewers as well as the judges with her amazing mental acumen. But her ebullience and zest for life won her even more fans, as she toured the world as Miss Universe 1994. Her fans followed her film career, and her impulsive affairs of the heart with equal ardor and her natural flair for communication proved her to be a consummate actress. Whether it is a child, a waiter bringing room service or the head of a country -- Sushmita Sen's easy banter and ready smile can charm them all. Her film career has picked up recently with the success of Biwi No. 1 and her sensational number Dilbar Dilbar in Sirf Tum.

(Source :



1996 DASTAK Sushmita Sen, Mukul Dev

1997 RAKSHAK Nagarjuna, Sushmita Sen

1998 ZOR Sunny Deol, Sushmita Sen, Milind Gunaji

1999 BIWI NO.1 Karishma Kapoor, Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor

1999 HINDUSTAN KI KASAM Ajay Devgan, Sushmita Sen, Manisha

1999 SIRF TUM Sanjay Kapoor, Priya Gill, Jackie Shroff

2000 AAGAAZ - THE BEGINNING Sunil Shetty, Sushmita Sen, Namrata Shirodkar

2000 CHAKRA Sanjay Dutt, Sushmita Sen

2000 JADH Jackie Shroff, Sushmita Sen, Arjun Rampal

(Source :


(Source :

"I have no dreams, but yes, I want to do a film that can tap my full potential as an actress."

Sushmita Sen is a charmer. She's husked and cooed her way in life, having learnt very early the advantages of charm. But behind this smiling exterior hides a very sharp and determined woman. "It's a long queue I know but I'm waiting. My eyes are on the No 1 spot. I am holding on, I know it will come one day." Caught Sushmita on the sets of Aaghaz. She looks more at ease. The three awards she's won this year have provided her with the necessary respite before she re-embarks on her long journey.

Don't you think you are running after a bus you have already missed?
I don't think so. I know my turn will come. I have always been the dark horse. I have never been a favourite even in real life. When the right time comes you get the right kind of directors who go out of their way to present you well, give you a role with a good characterisation.

My time hasn't come as yet. I have always been a late starter. If some day I become the favourite, it will really scare me. However, I know I will eventually win the race. The battle I may have lost, I will win the war.

You and Aishwarya have always been involved in this tug-of-war.
We have always done things at the same time. We won the beauty pageants together. We did the Coke and Pepsi ads at the same time, won awards in the same year. I think humara time saath saath mein achcha bura hota hai.

Did offers stop coming to you after your films flopped?
What happens when your career goes through a lull is that all kinds of projects come your way. It is not the offers that stop coming, it is the good offers that dry out. What comes is sub-standard. It is then up to you to take them or wait for your turn to come. As it is I do just three films a year, so I had my share of three films, Biwi No 1, Hindustan Ki Kasam and Sirf Tum. I had decided that if they don't do well, they don't do well, but I am not going to sign any rubbish, and I waited, luckily, Biwi No 1 worked for me.

With so many Indian girls winning beauty pageants, people are beginning to question the authenticity of these contests.
Earlier India was not prepared for such pageants. Girls from Columbia and Venezuala won the pageants for ten-ten years in a row. Why was that not questioned? There are over one million people watching the pageants live on the television today, you can't cheat them. For example in case of Lara Dutta, she gave such a brilliant answer, there was no one anywhere near her as far as the points were concerned.

Do you have any dream role that you wish to play?
I have no dreams, but yes, I want to do a film that can tap my full potential as an actress. It will happen, patience it is the greatest virtue.

You have always grudged the press for holding a bias against you.
My relationship with the media has changed over the years. It was the media that declared me an actress in my very first film. I have this very strong self-righteousness person in me. If I feel I am not wrong, I care a damn about what others have to say about me. If you talk about me it is fine, but they (the press) entered my home, which I will not allow. I'd rather not see myself in any of the papers or magazines. I am here to sell my talent not my self-respect.

Do you think media can make or break a star?
Very honestly, I think media can make a star but can't break one, because once media creates a monster, it has created one and you know you can't destroy it. You create a star then it's up to that person to live up there as a star. Besides, how much ever you praise that person, put him on magazine covers and try to build him as 'the very happening thing', if he doesn't sell as actor, it all comes to naught. Yes, after he's been put up there, there's a mutual sort of a relationship that you share with the celebrity, but there's no such thing that media can break or make a star. The media and the artist require each other and in some ways they complement each other too. Though, there's nothing to beat destiny. That is supreme, always.


"People watch one girl in a sari and one in a short skirt. And automatically, the one in a short skirt is a vamp"

(Source :

Life is a great teacher. Just when you think you know it all, something comes along and changes everything. So I never take anything for granted, not even success. I never consider myself too good for anything. A lot of people make the mistake of being overconfident or thinking they are too intelligent. Sorry, I'm not that intelligent.
At least I don't put myself on a pedestal or let other people do it for me. Because the moment you start believing in all that hype, everything comes crashing down. So I'd rather remain at rock bottom and work my way up. That's the way I see life and my career. Of course, I need to have my life beyond films. Otherwise I'd stagnate big time. Films are not the be all and end all for me. Acting is a passion with me but once I have packed up, my life is my own. I'm not answerable to anybody after that. I have always lived life on my own terms, even when it comes to accepting different roles.

It's very unfortunate that in Indian cinema we have very set ideas about what an actress should be doing. Anything that interferes with that notion is considered a not so heroine like role. Like it happened with me in Biwi No 1. I loved doing the film. It was a great role for me. Rupali was a very normal girl. You come across girls like her everywhere. But the problem with the audience is that when they come to see a film, they want to relate to the hero or the heroine. Never to anybody who has shades of grey, never to a character that's real, just like you or me.

When audience leaves the theatre, the myth is broken immediately and they are back to leading their normal lives, but on screen they still want to relate to a larger than life character.

It's so strange. For me Biwi No 1 was a character who had her own amount of vulnerability and awareness. And she was not a dumb bimbo. Now just because she is not a dumb girl doesn't exactly make her the vamp of the story, you see. It's shocking you know. People watch one girl in a sari and one in a short skirt. And automatically, the one in a short skirt is a vamp. It just reflects their narrow thinking. And that is something I don't want to succumb to.

Being an actress is not just looking pretty. It's being able to do every kind of character. I'm primarily an actress. I'm not here to be a star. I don't want to get slotted ever. I have the courage to do a completely different role and shock em' all. And I love it. I like springing up these surprises on people. That's what makes Sushmita Sen tick.


'I am not intelligent. I am street-smart'

(Source :

Now we see her now we don't. Sushmita Sen's personality exudes a kaleidoscopic enigma. A magnificent misfit in Mumbai's masala concoctions, she guards her privacy with an Alsatian ferocity and yet appears to be warm, friendly, open and disarmingly honest. Sushmita talks about her career, her daughter and the man in her life.

First things first, why are you doing so many second leads?
Because that's where all the action is. My ambition as an actress has never been to wear dazzling dresses, to look absolutely immaculate, doing five songs, six scenes and that's it.I understand the implications of your question. But I've always been extremely secure within the space I occupy, no matter what I'm doing. By now I know only too well that the movie industry is terribly hierarchy-ridden. But things like the first lead and second lead don't bother me. Biwi No.1 was Karisma Kapoor's film. Even the title was hers, while I was not just the so-called second lead, but also the 'other woman'. Still people appreciated my work. I even won an award for it. So even if I'm labelled the second lead, it makes no difference to me.

So as an actress and a professional what really matters to you?
What does matter is that I should look back at a film without feeling, 'Now why did I give away six months or one year of my life to this?' I know there's terrible insecurity in the film industry. When two heroines work together they're dying to know what the other one is wearing, how many lines of dialogues she has etc. To me, what matters is the character I play. I want people to say, 'No one could've played it better than her.' So I've to go out there and give my hundred per cent to what I do. Apart from being a star and an actress, I want to give a little bit more of myself to every role I play. And why just the second leads? I've also been asked why I'm doing song and dance appearances. And why not? At the end of the day we're all gamblers in a casino. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. So what? One has to take chances in life and in one's career.

Speaking of casinos and gambling, Sharon Stone's role in Martin Scorcese's Casino would be perfect for you. Would it?
I could see only a part of it. But I feel every role I've played so far has been a stepping stone towards the goal that I've set for myself. To get to a summit you need to climb step by step. I think I've been climbing the stairs very steadily. Not for a minute did I believe I had to be Madhuri Dixit just because I came into the film industry as Miss Universe. I knew I had to work hard to get there. Some people get there more easily than others. But that's life. Maybe I've made some major mistakes in my career. And I continue to make them even today. But that's part of the growing experience. I'm very comfortable with who and what I am. I am an actress only when the camera is switched on. The minute it's over, I go back to being myself. I don't make an effort to make other people comfortable. I feel I can't be an image for people. I have to be a real person. I have to be absolutely me.

And what's absolutely you?
Tons of contradictions. It's being an enigma even to myself at times. It's someone only I know, and that too once in a while.

Have you signed M F Husain's second film?
Not as yet. But I plan to. It's again going to be a visual interpretation of the artistic images in his mind. I want to do this film because I have the highest respect for the man. To me, it's a great compliment to be signed by him after Madhuri Dixit.

Husain said Madhuri was the ultimate beauty. So what does your presence in his second film prove?
That I'm the second one (laughs uproariously). I hope my film with him makes me look spectacular. Right now it sounds like something that's artistic and commercial. I'll be shooting for it at the end of the year.

Do you crave to be loved or respected by people around you?
I think both go hand in hand. Unconditional love doesn't exist. It comes with respect. Have you noticed, when you feel genuine love for a person you tend to naturally respect that person? As for the fans who're often disrespectful, they don't really love you in the true sense of the word. They're just overwhelmed and awed by your stardom. I've had mothers pointing to their toddlers and saying, Itni badi fan hai aapki. Bahut pyar karti hai aapko. They use the word 'love' for the lack of adequate words.

Is overt intelligence a liability in Hindi cinema?
I would say 'yes', and I'd underline the word a million times (laughs). But if you're referring to me, I don't know what your definition of intelligence is. I'm not intelligent. I'm street-smart. But yes, over here if you have a mind of your own, you're a problem. If you say something that makes perfect sense it could go against the film industry's ego. Yes, there are problems on the sets sometimes. I don't mind arguments as long as the other person understands my point of view.

You've recently adoped a daughter.
Yes, suddenly I feel I'm in the older generation (laughs). It was something I had to do. I wanted to adopt a child when I was 18 a little foolhardy at that age. No organisation was going to give me a child at 18. At 24 again, they gave me a hard time. Finally I'm a mother like I always wanted to be.

Without going through the labour pains?
I suppose I'm going to go through it one day. I wanted my first child to be the adopted one so that the second one wouldn't wonder where the new addition to the family came from. Right now I don't know whether I'm going to get married and have a child. To me, it was important to be a mother. Now I could die tomorrow and feel completely fulfilled as a human being.

A rumour being spread is that you're planning to get married and quit your career?
This isn't the first time wrong assumptions are being made about me. Nothing in my life, including my career, has been the epitome of completeness for me, except my baby girl. As long as I can give her a great life and make her a good human being. That apart, I've no intention of living my life according to what people expect from me.

When do you plan to get married?
Sometime during my lifetime, that's for sure (laughs).

Are you serious about Sanjay Narang?
Yes, I am. I have been serious about all my relationships. They've all been special in some way. I don't know whether I'm going to marry him. When I know, I'll let you know.

What attracted you to Sanjay?
He approached me to be the brand ambassadress for his company.

And you chose to take over the company instead?
Not the company he keeps. Only him. The fact that he's older and far mature than me attracted me to him. He's the kind of man who makes me feel comfortable. He's very clued in and articulate. He speaks beautifully and makes a woman feel loved. In spite of who he is, he hasn't got carried away. That's a big turn-on for me.

Do you look upon yourself as a role model for girls in the country?
When women tell me to pray that their daughters would be like me, I tell them not to do this to their children. Their children have the potential to be ten times better than me. Why restrict their growth by such a yardstick? For such girls winning the Miss Universe crown is the ultimate goal. To me, being Miss Universe was one achievement. It wasn't the 'It' thing in my life.

What's the 'It' thing in your life?
I'll tell you when I'm 80. Everyone in this world wants a long life. But I want a happy life.


I always wanted to be a mother: - Sushmita Sen

(Source :

She is difficult to pin down and she laughs when you tell her that. Sushmita Sen is racing ahead on a fast-paced life. Despite her commitment to films and her newly adopted daughter Renee, Sen has a personal life too. She has an impressive list of films lined up -this ex-Miss Universe is raring to go. In a heart to heart conversation, Sen talks about her powerful roles, her lovely daughter Renee and herself.

You have pretty good films in the pipeline. Starting from David Dhawan's Govinda starrer Jhootha Kahin Ka, Meghna Gulzar's Filhaal, All The Best, Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai and Barf.
Oh yes, I am thrilled that all the films I have been working on for the past two years will release within a month of each other. First Goldie Behl's debut directorial Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai will release June end. I have a perfect role where I play a girl almost like myself. She's ambitious and a go better but not a bitch. I play a successful woman getting things done her way in a man's world. Goldie Behl is too good and the whole team was such an inspiration, Abhishek, Rani, Sameer (camera man) and Shristhi (producer) were great. Then I have David's film - it's a hilarious one. I am Govinda's wife and we look great on screen. Mark my words, this film will be different from other David films. Working with Tabu in Filhaal was like learning everyday. We got along very well and Meghna too proved to be a sensitive director. The film is fabulous, I can tell you that. Thankfully these films have come to an end almost so I can take a vacation and then return to shoot for Vipul Shah's All The Best and Vishal Bharadwaj's Barf. I am thoroughly exhausted with so much work.

You rejected Mahesh Manjrekar's Tera Mera Saath Rahen. Do you think it was a wrong career move?
No I don't think so. I thought the script was not as convincing as it should have been. I had made it clear to Mahesh that I had a problem with the script. I even told him that if he wanted only me then he should make changes. So it was a mutual decision for him to take another actress. Everything was well settled and therefore I don't think there's any problem there.

Initially you wanted to be heroine of the film but now you have graduated to the character roles, which are of course meatier, why this sudden transformation?
Look I always believed in doing better roles than just prancing around trees. I feel I should either be playing a good role in a film or not do that film at all. This no 1 thing never interested me. I am allergic to it. For me no 1 means having a place for yourself that people can't throw you off. Only time it is empty is when you leave it. And I was never into that any ways. Your four films do well and you are no 1 and four films flop and you are out. No 1 is a strong position, it can't be shifted around because two of your films didn't work.

How does it feel to be a mother?
It feels wonderful. I always wanted to be a mother and adopt a girl child. But the courts thought I was too young at 18. Then I tried all means possible to adopt a kid. I love kids and I am glad my family has supported me through the whole experience. I look after my daughter Renee whenever I am at home and now I appreciate my mom for all the wonderful things she did for me when I was a kid and even today she indulges me. I feel Renee and I connect somewhere.


She is the first Indian to win a Miss Universe Title in 1994.

She brought to her duties as ambassador of beauty and purpose an irresistibly cheeky grin and a now well schooling led sense of etiquette.

She is 172.5cm tall.

She was a dark horse in the Miss India contest, and an even darker one at Miss Universe but what set her apart was that she was a refreshingly different.

She came home after her coronation, everyone who was anyone was there to add their good wishes.

She got a grand welcome everywhere she went. The rest welcomed her with classifieds and advertisement in the newspapers.

After her tenure as Miss Universe was over, she stayed back in Los Angeles for sometime and had plans of setting her own garment house.

However she succumbed to the allure of Tinsel town. She has now starred in some films like Dastak and Zor, Sirf Tum and Biwi No 1 . She won the best supporting actress award in the year 2000 for her role in Biwi No 1 which was the biggest hit of 1999.

(Source :

While in college Sushmita viewed herself as tall and gawky, but what the world saw was someone tall and graceful. Naturally, she began to attract attention, and it wasn't long before she was swaying down the ramp and doing a few select commercials. She then decided to enter the Miss India contest just for a lark, and surprised everyone, including herself, by piping favorite Aishwarya Rai to the post. Her next achievement was winning the Miss Universe contest. The girl-next-door became India's ambassador for a year, touring the globe and charming everyone with her dimpled smile. By the end of 12 months, there were offers for her from top western designers and modeling houses. But Sushmita chose to return home, not to become the journalist she'd dreamed of becoming for years (she used to regularly write a column for a Bengali newspaper), but to become an actress.

Sushmita feels that she is attractive but not pretty or beautiful. "I have a face that's always exotic anywhere in the world. As far as style goes, I think everyone has his own persona and that comes out only at home. Your style is what you are when no one's looking. I think you have to wear something that best presents you. For example, I don't wear jewellery, I think it takes away from my persona. I think my character comes out best without jewellery."

Despite having an image of a person who has brains along with beauty, somehow the roles that she gets to do in films don't justify it, and she's considered a mere glamour puss. Thus, her real life image has proved to be a disadvantage to her reel life career. " I think due to this image of being a woman with a mind, many directors don't want to cast me in a conventional role, thinking my mind won't allow it. They won't think that as an actress I should be able to do all types of work. It'll take its time but I'm sure the time will come."

Among the films that are closest to her heart is her debut film 'Dastak' for obvious reasons. "Goldie Behl's 'Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai' with Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherji, from among my forthcoming films, is very close to my heart. It has captured a different side of me. The film is a dream film. I relate a lot with Lara Oberoi in the film. Sometimes I see a lot of her in me and there are times when I want to be like her. She's a modern woman in a man's world. She's a fantastic character. You have to see the film to know what I'm talking about. Apart from 'Bas Itna', Meghna Gulzar's 'Filhaal' is something that I am proud of. I am very critical of myself, but for the first time I said, 'Sush, well done.' It's one of my best, and I tell myself that I can do even better."

Apart from a being a beauty queen, an actress and a philantropist, Sushmita also happens to be a poet of substance. But she is apprehensive about getting her book of poems published. "I'm very scared of being judged. It's only written for myself, so I can go back to them and relive the experiences. I plan to write a book though, and I want to use the poems to bring back memories. I do share my poems with the kids in my building and encourage them to write. Writing comes easy to me. I write better than I speak. When I talk, I use too many words, but when I write I concentrate on the essence."

Sushmita, who is a level headed and very practical person, believes that the showbiz industry in India is very chauvinistic. But at the same time, she says, there are some chivalrous persons too. She also feels there will come a time when the women will call the shots in this presently male dominated industry.

While some people donate money or inaugurate hospitals, Sush has adopted a baby as part of her commitment towards society. She feels very bad when people term her adopting the baby as 'an act of charity'. "I want everyone to know that when I said I wanted to do something to make a difference I didn't say it to gain points, I actually meant it. My daughter Rene isn't 'a charitable act'. I did not adopt her to make a point. I did it for a selfish reason. I wanted to be a mother. She has made me the happiest person in the world. I don't think she's adopted, I think a surrogate mother gave birth to her for me."

Marriage for her is not on the cards in the near future and nor is she engaged to hotelier Sanjay Narang, her current boyfriend. "I've been with him for very little time and we are just trying to get to know each other well. He is charming and well read. He's had a great education so he has a very broad-minded approach to life. He's a large hearted man. I'm a person who needs to grow in a relationship and he understands that and helps me grow."

(Source :