To a whole generation of Indian women, Sushmita Sen, India’s first Miss Universe and an actor who has been earning plaudits for her strong roles on screen, epitomises an ideal independent woman. With a rare gravitas in her voice, Sushmita Sen has been able to live life on her own terms without necessarily conforming to societal norms. She is single at 47 and a mother to two adopted daughters. Her career continues to be on a roll even as she gracefully inches towards 50. Yet, her personal life never fails to draw attention. That, she believes, is one of the side effects of being an independent woman.
Addressing the question by Health Shots in an interview, Sushmita Sen says, “For me, the biggest need of my life is my freedom. I am a free person. Whatever I do, I do it from my heart, and not because anyone expects it out of me.”
On being “independent”, Sushmita Sen went on to share, “I am single because I have not met somebody I want to spend the rest of my life with. Mohabbat ki kami nahi hai life mein (I don’t feel the lack of love in my life), which is wonderful. And whatever people with the Indian sensibility believe comes with marriage, I already have that – two beautiful children. I have raised them alone. I don’t feel anything lacking in my life.”
Sushmita Sen shares her life’s philosophy
As a public figure, Sushmita Sen has always been like a shot of positivity. At the tender age of 18, she charted history as the first ever Indian to win the Miss Universe crown. She went on to become an actor, but chose her biggest role off screen – as a mother to Renee and Alisah, whom she adopted in 2000 and 2010 respectively. Her grace, philanthropic efforts and motivational words, have found a massive fan following.
Her philosophy about life and independence is simple.
“I just feel that there’s so much abundance in the world, that if luck is by your side, you can stand on your feet every morning, you can work hard and be fearless, you have lived your life,” Sushmita Sen, who suffered a heart attack earlier this year, tells Health Shots.
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One wonders what helped her become this formidable woman who chooses to live life on her own terms every single day.
She explains, “I didn’t choose to live my life on my own terms. It just happened. I gradually discovered diverse views of people around me, and questioned myself, ‘What do I want?’ I listen to everyone and do what I want to do. That’s why I have been able to live life on my own terms.”
Sushmita Sen on Taali and acceptance of the transgender community
Her latest onscreen project is Jio Cinema’s Taali, a web series on the life of real-life transgender activist Shreegauri Sawant. Essaying a person from a marginalised community came with its set of brickbats and bouquets.
Asked what fuels her own fire in reali life – taali or gaali, Sushmita replies, “Taali doesn’t work as fuel. Gaali does!”
“When I got a chance to play Shreegauri Sawant, I had a doubt if I will be able to do it or not. But when I posted about it (on social media), people started writing ‘chhakka’. That’s when I realised I was going to be the voice of this enormous community. That was fuel to my fire to play Gauri. Gaali.”
The web series is a creative attempt to familiarise the audience with the struggles of the transgender community in the society. In a bid to take that message forward, Sushmita Sen personally advocates that cisgender children need to stop being taught to feel scared and distanced from transgenders. That is because it builds the way we treat them as adults.
She tells Health Shots, “Our fundamentals in life get set during childhood. Then we make those mistakes (in discriminating against people) habitually and believe it is true. Lessons in diversity, inclusion and acceptance of all people in the society are things must be taught in school.”
“Kids spend a lot of time at school, with friends. So, if it becomes compulsory in our schools to know about everyone’s communities, belief systems, why are they this way, automatically our friends and colleagues will be from every community without this discrimination,” adds the actor on a hopeful note.