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I don't have to reach anywhere: Sushmita Sen

Sushmita Sen on living life on her own terms and the people who inspire her

By Saionee Chakraborty

  • Published 22.01.19, 9:45 PM
  • Updated 26.01.19, 6:49 PM
Sushmita Sen
Sushmita Sen Telegraph picture

There’s a hypnotic charm about Sushmita Sen. The kind-intelligent eyes. The bright, confident smile that lights up her face. A poised presence that’s powerful but never intimidating. Even a few minutes with her will leave you with a tingle of steel on your spine. We caught up with her moments before she took a bow as the Ashish N Soni showstopper at Blenders Pride Fashion Tour, at ITC Sonar in Calcutta on Sunday evening.

Sushmita Sen’s dad Shubeer Sen and her “jaan” Rohman Shawl watched her walking the ramp
Sushmita Sen’s dad Shubeer Sen and her “jaan” Rohman Shawl watched her walking the ramp Telegraph picture

Walking the ramp in Calcutta must be very special…

Absolutely! This is home. In the front row will be my father watching me walk, which is pretty much an embodiment and a symbolic presence of what Calcutta means to me.

The classic monochrome will be on the ramp tonight…

Has to be! Ashish (N Soni) represents monochrome. He loves it. He’s always had it as a part of the collection. Usually it is on a ramp that I look forward to wearing a colour because I wear black all the time in real life. And there is Ashish going: ‘There you go! It’s black or white!’ So, I am wearing black again.

What is the secret of being classic, like you? You have reinvented yourself and lived life on your own terms and yet you are very vintage…

‘Very vintage!’ I should write this down!

How would you describe your soul?

I am just a learner. I have always looked up and I say this to my kids (daughters Renee and Alisah) as well… that be very careful of who you look at and aspire to be... there are examples who inspire you... because inevitably you will gather qualities of these people and they will become a part of who you become. So, choose wisely. At a very young age, thanks to Miss Universe when I was 18, I travelled the world so much that the people I got to meet were jaw-dropping personalities and each one taught me something. I think I am just an embodiment of all of those choices.

What were your 20s and 30s like and now your 40s…

Forties? Oh! It’s just got better! In my 20s, I thought I knew myself. I knew everything that was to come and I was going to be planning every step of my life. In my 30s, I realised that when you fight with natural progression, that’s when you start to wonder about the ageing process… and the process of who am I… the identity crisis that follows. By the time I touched 40, I could finally say I don’t know myself and I am very happy to keep finding me out every single day. I don’t have to reach anywhere. Every day is new for me and I am very adaptable to that change. Forties have possibly been the best out of all of them.

There’s a very languid feel to your Instagram posts... soothing life, playing the piano, with your kids…

Yeah… I got on to Instagram and this is the reason. I don’t follow anyone… I did not get on to it to network with people.

You inspire so many people every day…

They inspired me at a very rough patch in my life which I would not want to speak about at this moment, but it was in the past few years and it was people like these who inspired me and reminded me of what my capabilities were. They believed I was strong enough to get through anything. So, when I did go through it, I thought I got to payback and give them what they gave me knowingly or unknowingly.

So, I share very intimate parts of my life with them because people matter to me, way more than a business or profession. They always have. So, if one child at age 10 can grow up and say: ‘You know, she was a part of my journey, her story inspired me, her story I related to…’, then I have lived because that’s pretty much (it). So, that is my life, absolutely my life. I am no good at creating a moment for social media consumption. It is what it is.

Who are some of the classic people for you?

For different things, I have looked up to different people. I have always grown up loving Madonna, hardly for her music, but for the rebel she was… that she had the quintessential ability to say it as it was. She lived a very authentic life. I love that about her. I loved Mother Teresa and was one of the few privileged people who got to meet her here in Calcutta before she passed away. I saw that when you vibrate at a certain frequency, you don’t do anything for anyone’s approval. You do it because that’s your calling. She taught me that.

I have always loved Maharani Gayatri Devi because she did everything gracefully and yet she was a very powerful presence. She spoke beautifully, she looked incredible and I actually went up to buy a piece of jewellery she used to design… just bought it with all of my savings just because I wanted to have a piece of something she created. So, she inspired a sense of timeless classic, the beauty. So, very many people. I say this often, from a paanwala to a president, for me, it’s like show me something that I can take and I will imbibe it because I am so hungry for it.

What is your top tip to live life on your own terms?

It’s going to be very hard. Brace yourself because this is the one choice that will ensure that you will have a tough journey. If you want to live life on your own terms, it sounds good, but it is the hardest choices you will ever make but if you can make them, then you must remember that after rejection follows acceptance. Always does!

Sushmita, the daughter: A good one

Sushmita, the mother: A terrific one

Sushmita, the friend: Oh! It doesn’t get better! (Laughs out loud) My name means a ‘good friend’.