One of India’s most popular beauty queens recently found herself facing a storm on social media.
In 1994, Sushmita Sen became the first Indian to be crowned Miss Universe, before she succeeded in securing a place for her as a star in the sky of Indian cinema – Bollywood.
Sean, 46, has acted in about 30 films. And her last participation so far was in the series “Aria”, which was admired by the masses, and also won the praise of critics.
Sen is seen as a “strong woman”, often described as charismatic and intelligent, and has won a number of important film awards.
But all that Sen has achieved seems to have been forgotten since last Thursday night when Lalita Modi announced on social media that he was having an affair with Sen, opening a flood of sarcasm and crude and misogynistic jokes.
Modi, 58, is a businessman and founder of the Indian Premier League, the world’s richest cricket competition. Modi is also a public figure. His name made headlines after the Board of Control of Cricket in India accused him of involvement in financial scandals, which Modi denies.
Modi spent the last ten years of his life in London.
Modi published a bouquet of romantic photos that were taken of him with Sushmita Sen during vacations they spent together in the Maldives and the Italian island of Sardinia.
He initially described Modi Sen as his “beautiful half”, then spread rumors of his marriage to her before amending the script to “My Pretty Partner”.
The death had left Modi’s wife, who is thirty years old, in 2018 after suffering from cancer. Modi saw in his relationship with Sen “the beginning of a new life in which he feels very happy,” as he put it.
Over the course of the Thursday night that Modi announced his affair with Sean, the internet went up in flames. Soon, news sites came online and congratulatory messages began pouring in.
The pioneers of social networking sites began commenting on the news by highlighting the age difference, criticizing Modi for his appearance, describing him as a “fugitive”.
But the lion’s share of the comments went to Sen – to become the most popular name on social media platforms, as many described her as “greedy” and “in search of gold” and that she was dating Modi for his money.
Among Sen’s critics was the Bengali writer and activist Taslima Nasreen who questioned why Sen was interested in someone “not at all attractive”.
“Because he’s so rich, Sen sells herself to him for money,” said Nasreen.
“This kind of comment is very problematic,” wrote Namita Bhandar, editor-in-chief of the gender news website Article14.
But Bhandar added, “However, what happened is bad news for every woman, as it appears that it is easy to blame and point the finger at the woman.”
It was not entirely unexpected, what interest aroused the relationship; It is because of Sen’s fame that each of her steps is of interest to trackers, activists, as well as journalists.
Sean used to make her “unconventional” life choices a subject of discussion on news sites.
Barely twenty-four years old, a few years after being crowned Miss Universe, Sen decided to adopt a daughter and describe herself as a “single mother.” A few years later, Sen adopted another daughter. She has been posting pictures of her with the two girls regularly.
Sen has never tried to hide her relationships over the years, and she has been dating her friends who are actors, the last of them being Rohman Chal, whom Sen broke up with last year.
But, as writer Behendar points out, the news about Sean’s dating never made it past the artist pages and gossip columns.
Modi did not expect his relationship with Sen to gain such momentum across social media platforms across India.
However, Sushmita Sen has also received a great deal of support through social media. Many defended her by noting that she had previously dated men who did not have much money, yet no one described these men as gold seekers.
But as extremist and hyper-intrusive comments continued to trickle into her private affairs by making jokes and questioning her motives – and sharing this not only on social media but also on WhatsApp – Sen found herself forced on Sunday to respond with an Instagram post.
Sen said, “It’s heartbreaking to see how miserable the world around us has become!…Friends I’ve never met, acquaintances I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting…All of them spread deep opinions on my life and character…”
Sen’s post aroused sympathy for her. “WhatsApp jokes and comments are disgusting,” said Bhandar. “Their owners practice an old custom that makes mockery of women permissible.”
“But Sen’s response was very mature. She expressed her love for those who supported her, and also wished well for those who did not,” Bhandar added.