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Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe
Sushmita's homecoming
On top of the world
A true picture
Tory scandals
Ulster hopes
Ulster truce
A reprieve for Pawar
Goa to Gummidipoondi
Benazir returns
A manhunt ends
Escobar's end
Guns and Roses
Banking on Dini
Rwanda's death camps

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'Tiger' Pataudi
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Outlook Money
Frontline

The Frontline features

Sushmita's homecoming

By V. Venkatesan

A VARIANT of the "silly season" affliction that traditionally grips British newspapers about this time of the year and compels them to play up trivial happenings overran most Indian dailies last fortnight. The ailment in this case: an acute attack of "Miss Universe mania", coinciding with Sushmita Sen's first visit to India since she won the crown about four months ago.

During her high-on-hype homecoming, Sushmita called on President S.D. Sharma, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi, and apprised them of the welfare programmes she is involved in globally as a "cultural ambassador". She then led a ceremonial cavalcade through the broad avenues of Delhi's diplomatic enclave, all the while acknowledging cheers from fans. She also announced plans to set up an orphanage in the capital with help from donors in the United States.

Addressing a press conference during her three-day stay, not in her parents' apartment but in a five-star hotel, Sushmita gave insights into her life as Miss Universe ("I have the lifestyle of a queen") and recounted her experience at the recently-concluded International Conference on Population and Development. She said she would be auditioning for a role in "an Indianised version" of "The Bold and the Beautiful", a soap opera being beamed on the STAR TV network, and would consider offers from some New York modelling agencies before working towards a degree in journalism.

In Bombay and in Delhi, effusive journalists quizzed Sushmita on every conceivable subject--from religion to women's lib to economic liberalisation. And even her most perfunctory pronouncements (on the economy: "Well, I know the budget is doing well and the currency is gaining weight"; on the status of women: "It has a direct link with population, environmental problems and development"; on the entry of foreign newspapers into India: "It excites me") were treated like the profound divinations of a Delphic oracle.

So much so, even Sushmita felt compelled to say, in reply to a question on how winnng the title had changed her life, "Earlier, nobody would have been interested in what I had to say. Now, everybody wants to know." n

(Published in Frontline, October 7, 1994.)

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Sushmita Sen, Ms Universe

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