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september 2012
Sen-sationally,it’s her universe
With a career on the upswing and personal life getting fuller with motherhood, glam queen and entrepreneur Sushmita Sen is in an uber cool space. The elegant lady of the fashion world pieces together the many facets of her life in a conversation with Lubna Parveen.
It is a soul rendezvous with the lady revisiting the many truisms that guide her journey and illuminate her life.

Miss Universe at 18, mother of an adopted daughter at 25, two adopted daughters at 35, and as the news-mills say, a very young beau at 36. What defines Sushmita Sen?
I AM what I am! When you look at it starting from the name of a woman, I will not be Sushmita Sen all my life. My name will change, my friends may change and my choices in life will definitely change. Change is another name for being alive.

Model, Miss Universe, actress, entrepreneur… What has career as a journey been to you?
It’s been a journey of great experiments and that has been wonderful. I am really grateful to God. I never got stuck to anything; I tried movies, made mistakes and learnt something about my art as an actor. I did not get stuck in the mode of trying to get commercial success. Somewhere, my art has outlived Fridays. It has allowed me to be a better me and live a good life. I have absolutely no complaints.>

How individualistic did you set out to be? How far have you come?
The basic thing to understand about yourself is that you are unique. Life can change in a moment. I have always lived my life on the basis of my conscience, be it having a boyfriend at 18, doing an item number in movies or raising kids without getting married.

The thought behind your decision to adopt…
I knew I could be a mother to any child. It isn’t about giving birth; it’s about nurturing a life.

Are you a role model to your daughters? Or is there pressure to be one?
What I’ve given them is ample amount of freedom to take from everyone. I am teaching them how to take good from people and try and keep the bad out.

How much of your parenting is in the mould of your own parents?

One thing that you learn when you have children is to appreciate your own parents. You will get completely wowed in by the fact that your parents had to face all this. I am a lot like my mother in many ways. Sometimes, I used to think that I will never shout at my children and I used to tell my mother that. And now, I turn around and say, ‘Hey don’t do that’ and I think that I sound just like my mother! When you realize the responsibility, you also realize that there is always something good about being the parent.

Unlike other B-town parents, you have not been shy of the media exposure your children get...
My children are born to the heart of a mother who was in public life, when they became a part of her life. Keeping them away from people is only going to alienate or allow more and more people to affect their life by using the word ‘adopted’. So I take them out. But I am very selective too. Both are pretty aware of the fact that they are adopted. It’s important to be accepted in life for who they are, so I like to put them on the stage. When people see them on the ramp and applaud, they should get comfortable knowing that whoever they are, they are beautiful. The word ‘adopted’ is just a technical term and it is predominantly the reason I make sure they are comfortable with the exposure.

How complete do you feel in your universe as a mother?
Oh! There are good days and there are bad days. There are days when I just feel like I had more time to spend with my children. They both have a very busy life. Alisah has school and has a ride in the evening at the park. Renee is in class eight and she has tuitions and extracurricular activities in school. So, at times, I just feel I could be in three different places at the same time. In my universe, it feels really gratifying that as a mother whatever you do, it is clearly through your heart. I think, I am a pretty decent mum and I hope every mother feels that. I think, I play the dad and mom in equal measure.

Daily Diet
  • I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner compulsorily.
  • I eat every two hours.
  • I eat small meals, may be half an apple or may be half a muffin.
  • I can even eat two biscuits or a little bit of brown or whole wheat bread. But my meals are very calculated and timely.

What gives you immense joy as a woman?
It gives me immense happiness to celebrate being more feminine. It allows me to nurture and sustain life. By virtue, I can nurture and protect and make a two bedroom flat a home.

What are the healthiest aspects of your life, emotionally and physically?
I work on faith. I go to the gym and I work out with faith.

Mother of two girls... What is your personal sense of beauty?
When you become a mother, you must take greater care of yourself. You have to be an example for the new life that you are nourishing. You can teach your children all that you want and be exactly as you want them. It’s important to set a good example in life.

What makes your grooming and fitness regime specifics?
It is very simple. There is running after my three year old and then having the mental match with my 13 year old! Basically, what I do is maintain my diet and drink lots of water. I work out immensely when I need the feel. There are times when I know I am eating right and I am feeling fit. I am not crazy about losing one inch on my waist. I need to feel energy and feel good about myself. Those few inches on my waist remain as long as it is appealing. I indulge in Yoga, as I think it’s a way of life. If your body allows it, do about 50 surya namaskars in a day; you don’t need to do anything else.

What are the fitness issues you have confronted?
I remember, when I put on nine kilos and the whole country went mad! Health issue was – when I had a bad back problem. I suffered two massive back accidents and it took me nearly three years to get back into action. That was the protrusion of two discs. Even now, if I don’t do enough of Yoga, my back starts troubling me.

What are the foods that you indulge in?
Sushi, sushi and more sushi. I am big fan of Japanese food, both yaki and sushi. Sushi suits me better. It’s a perfect healthy kind of raw steamed fish and no oil and no masalas. It’s fantastic for your health. I was born in Hyderabad and I am very fond of chicken biryani. I also love continental food like fish with broccoli and mashed potatoes.

If you were to churn out a quick meal for your family what would it be?
I am really bad at cooking and that’s something I leave to professionals!

What stresses you the most?
Once I find a task that is to be done, I expect it to be done. I hate to keep going back and fixing it. It stresses me out to see that I am not moving forward.

How do you unwind at the end of a day?

We have a dancing session every night. Renee, me and Alisah. We play some really wacky music. We love it!

What defines family time for you and your girls?
Sending them to school, receiving them back at home, scheduling my work time around them and playing with them in the evening. On weekends, we have an all-day agenda, looking at Saturday half day and Sunday full day.

Tell us about ‘I AM She’, about its candidate winning the Miss Asia Pacific World 2012 and also about I AM She 2012.
‘I AM She’ came into existence by destiny. When I was Miss Universe in 1994, I wanted to franchise for India and of course at that point of time it was not available. A few years later, I got a call from the Miss Universe organisation to take up the franchise for India. Then in 2010, I formed this company called Tantra Entertainment Pvt Ltd, and we formed the brand ‘I AM’ and the intense part of ‘I AM’ is called ‘I AM SHE’. It is the Indian preliminary to the Miss Universe competition.

“In my universe, it feels really gratifying that as a mother whatever you do, it is clearly through your heart. I think, I am a pretty decent mom and I hope every mother feels that. I think, I play the dad and mom in equal measure”.

I am not crazy about losing one inch on my waist. I need to feel energy and feel good about myself. Those few inches on my waist remain as long as it is appealing.