Several fans of Sushmita Sen, who have been following her since her Miss Universe days and look up to her for her brutally honest takes on feminism, marriage and women’s rights, were shocked when they found out that she was dating Lalit Modi.
Let’s face it. It is literally none of our business to comment or opine on anyone’s dating choices, even if they are public figures. Who Sushmita Sen chooses as her life-partner is entirely her choice and as much as the netizens and the social media users outrage, it wouldn’t really change. And why should it? At the end of the day, it is Sushmita who is investing her time, efforts and emotions into a relationship and we are mere bystanders who are passing judgements on her dating life and choice of men. Having said that, as someone who has always looked up to Sushmita for a plethora of reasons, the announcement of her dating Lalit Modi, a fugitive and a man who has been accused of several scams and is currently being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, not only shook me to the core but it also left a sour taste in my mouth. No, I did not judge her for her choice to date a fugitive. Several fans of Sushmita Sen, who have been following her since her Miss Universe days and look up to her for her brutally honest takes on feminism, marriage and women’s rights, were shocked when they heard the news. Perhaps, they struggled to believe that someone as bright, politically correct, morally upright and politically aware as Sushmita, would choose to date a man who is not just problematic on moral and ethical grounds, but also on the legal front.
There were, of course, several social media reactions poking fun at the announcement that sent shockwaves through the country. An old tweet of Modi from 2013 which read ‘@Sushmita reply to my SMS’ went viral. His Instagram bio, which ironically reads ‘partners-in-crime’ also caused an uproar on social media. In came the puns – ‘Sen-sational news of the day’, ‘Sushmita left me on Sen’, and more. There were, of course, people who claimed that Sen chose to date Modi because of his fortune, a statement which isn’t only sexist but also mis-informed because Sen herself is quite well-to-do. In one of her many interesting takes on marriage and relationships, Sen proudly claimed that she doesn’t need a man to buy her diamonds. “I have never allowed anyone to gift me diamonds. In fact, I had gifted myself a 22-carat diamond ring many years ago, which I wear everywhere. People watch me go shopping for groceries and wonder ‘What is she wearing?!’. But I’m proud that I could do that for myself. For me, my diamond ring is a symbol of hope and empowerment. I believe that all women should be independent, especially financially,” she said. Anyone who knows Sen is well-aware that she is a fiercely independent, strong and self-reliant woman who would never depend on a man for anything, let alone material or financial benefits.
Contrary to what some people may believe, Sen wasn’t in dire need of a relationship either. She had, on many occasions, spoken at length about how her kids are gracious enough to accept her partner and that she didn’t get married because the men in her life have been a let-down. Needless to say, Sen isn’t a woman who would choose someone just out of loneliness or need for a companionship. Besides, if one were to read some of her many interesting takes on relationships, it would show that Sen thinks and self-reflects before she invests in a man and knows exactly what is right for her. In an interview to television host Simi Garewal, Sen agreed when Simi said that she could have got married two or three times if she wanted to but Sen chose not to.
The above statements are enough to substantiate that Sen wouldn’t date a man out of loneliness and would only choose to be in a relationship with one if she was absolutely sure about him. This makes her choice to date Modi, even more puzzling as one can’t help but wonder why she would choose to date a man who is being investigated by several central agencies. Legal implications aside, it could very well take a toll on Sen’s mental health and her relationship. On a more serious note, wouldn’t Sen’s decision to date someone problematic set a bad precedent for young girls who look up to her? Of course, it isn’t Sen’s responsibility to raise all girls but isn’t she setting a bad example for her followers?
As someone who has always looked up to Sen for her candidness, honesty and reverence, her decision to date Modi was a bitter pill to swallow for me and many of her fans. It was upsetting to know that despite being so well-informed and aware, she made the choice that she did. Nonetheless, it is her choice and we must accept it. Sen isn’t married to Modi yet and It is yet to be seen how their relationship plays out in days to come. However, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that Sen and Modi dating will always be a dent on Sen’s brand of honesty and her public image.
Deepansh Duggal is an entertainment, pop-culture and trends writer based in New Delhi. He specializes in op-eds based on the socio-political and gender issues in the world of entertainment and showbiz. He also writes explainers and occasionally reviews shows in the OTT space. He tweets at @Deepansh75.
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