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Sush thrilled at praise from Ashley Judd

Actress Sushmita Sen says she is "floating in thin air" after receiving lavish praise from Hollywood actress-activist Ashley Judd.
None | By Subhash K Jha, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 16, 2007 11:01 AM IST

Bollywood star Sushmita Sen says she is "floating in thin air" after lavish praise from Hollywood actress-activist Ashley Judd.

"I'm floating in thin air. This was the first time that I interacted with an organisation that works so closely with sex workers. Ashley has been working with them for five years. I'm a newly converted novice in front of her," Sushmita told IANS.

"To see someone as special as her being so keenly interested in working at the grassroots level is so admirable," she added.

Ashley visited India in March as part of the NGO Population Services International to educate sex workers about HIV/AIDS. Sushmita joined her in the campaign and the two visited brothels and interacted with young sex workers.

After going back to the US, Ashley expressed her views on Sushmita on the 'ONE' blog. The Double Jeopardy star says that she admires Sushmita's self-confidence and her unconventional approach towards life.

She wrote: "I was being joined by a stranger to me, but a beloved star to millions of Indians: Sushmita Sen, maverick yet firmly ensconced Bollywood star. We picked her for her willingness to break with convention in her personal and professional life."

"She, as a single woman, adopted a daughter seven years ago, and has played roles of 'immoral' women in films. Typically, the big stars do not touch roles, which are not unassailably virtuous.

"She has that remarkable self-belief, answers to the enigmatic questions I don't dare touch on, stuff about being a woman in this world and other things that leave me tongue-tied. She was focused, clear-eyed, intent, attentive, dazzling."

Sushmita admits Ashley has made her feel special with her compliments.

She says: "Yes, she made me feel very special. Here was a woman coming all the way from America. The only common ground we shared was that we were both actors. She was so humane in her approach to me. The very fact that she wrote a blog like that proves how secure she is within her space and how fluently she deals with the world around her.

"Personally, I think praising another human being, complimenting them for their qualities, should come naturally to all of us. I don't think it's just about an actress praising an actress. That's too shallow a concept for me. For me it's always about one human being reaching out to another."

Encouraged by the experience of fraternising with sex workers, Sushmita now intends to carry the good work forward.

"I've never been affiliated with another specific charitable organisation. I've always questioned this enforced prioritising of humanitarian work. What gives anyone the right to decide that one cause is more vital than another?

"It doesn't jell with me. So far I've gone by my instinct. I didn't want to endorse a cause through any organisation. I've always thoroughly checked the authenticity of every charitable institution I've been affiliated to."

But now she realises that an organisation can give great legitimacy to a cause.

"People like Ashley devote a major part of their life looking after under-privileged people. We spend 15 minutes doing photographs with them and feel so good about ourselves.

"I've decided that spreading good word about the good work is as important. That's what I'm doing. I'm spreading awareness about the work we do."

Is Sushmita going the Shabana Azmi way?

"I don't know how important social causes are to me now. But acting is what I do. Everything else that I do is part of what I am."

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