I’m not a Miss Universe. I’m just one of the misses in the universe. Still, Sushmita Sen and I have a lot in common. For one, we both have dimples. And spend long minutes debating over whose dimples are deeper whenever we meet.
Also, we are both Bengalis but being probabhis and having grown up outside Kolkata, we don’t feel the need to switch to Bong at the drop of a “Hi!” We’re comfortable chatting in English.
Then, we are independent women, with minds of our own and careers we love. Writing is my identity and acting is hers. And finally, we are both moms.
The Hannah influence
She has Renee and Alisah, and I have Ranjika. The last time we met, before the release of Dulha Mil Gaya, we spent a good 10 minutes from the 15 allocated to me analysing what it was about Hannah Montana that had brought her into our homes. “She’s cool!” I reasoned. “And despite being an idol, she makes mistakes, so she’s human too!” Sushmita added.
Yeah, I recalled my outraged 11 year old telling me that Hannah had gotten herself pregnant. How did you know, I wondered, and was told a friend had got the info online. In the next breath, my daughter added that the boys in her class were gay. I managed to choke out, “What’s gay?” Rolling her eyes she retorted, “Gay…Stupid! Where are you mom?”
That’s your daddy
Sushmita’s dimples flashed deeper and she confided how one Father’s Day, Renee had come home from school asking about her daddy.
“I took her to the temple and pointed to the Shivling. She accepted my explanation without argument, even drawing Shivlings in school to represent her daddy. But that was then,” she recalled.
“Now, she knows that to get a daddy, mummy will need to get married first and tells me that will happen only if she likes him first,” she laughed, adding that she was already feeling sorry for her ‘dulha’. “Convincing Renee that he’s my Mr Right will only get harder as she grows older.”
Thank God, I had got Ranjika a daddy before she was old enough to offer her opinion. And I’d like to believe that she would say “yes” to him even today! Sush’s secretary was suddenly at the door, informing me my 15 minutes were up. Hey, I hadn’t even got started on Dulha Mil Gaya!
Fortunately, Sushmita waved her girl away saying, “Let her be, she makes me laugh. The last one almost put me to sleep.” Then, turning to me, she pointed out that she hadn’t met her ‘dulha’ yet. True!
All about sharing
At 34, Sushmita is a beauty queen who has shared the platform with Jane Fonda and Al Gore at the UN. She has the Miss Universe franchise and some superhit movies to her name. She is a successful single mother with two beautiful adopted daughters.
Yet, she still believes in marriage because “it’s not about give and take but about sharing”. And definitely wants more babies: “As long as I can run after them, I’ll have my babies. It doesn’t matter if they come out of my stomach or my heart.”
The first time I met Sush, she was babying her puppies. The last time she was cradling her newly adopted Alisah. Fourteen years separate the two meetings. But Sushmita’s dimples still flash deep and she’s still capable of beating a Miss Colombia, Miss Greece and Miss Venezuela to the Miss Universe crown.
I’m waiting for our next meeting so I can tell her that my daughter has outgrown Hannah Montana and is dancing to Justin Beiber’s tunes now. I can just hear her quipping,
“No problem. The 16-year-old pop star has growing up pains and that makes him human!”