Sushmita Sen beat Aishwarya Rai to the Miss India title, and so became the rightful representative of India at the Miss Universe pageant in 1994. But there came a point when the Bengali beauty almost didn't make it to the international pageant, and the organisers were planning to send Aishwarya instead.
It so happened that Sushmita had lost her passport right before she was supposed to leave for the Miss Universe pageant in Philippines. "It was given to Anupama Verma, then a very famous model and she was also a co-ordinator for events. She had my passport for a show in Bangladesh. She needed it for some ID proofing," Sushmita told Rajeev Masand during a recent interview.
"So I very confidently told Miss India, 'Don't worry my passport is very safely with Anupama Verma'. She couldn't find it. So she did take responsibility for it and she said 'I don't know what I have done' but the timing of it was scary," Sushmita said, adding that even though she went crying to her father, there wasn't much he could do as her family had no connections with affluent people.
Masand then said that he had heard that the organisers were thinking of letting Aishwarya compete in the Miss Universe pageant instead. Sushmita said that it was correct. "I wasn't crying, I was very angry. Because when you win something, rightfully so, you're not requesting it. So now we have to come together and ensure that this gets done. It's easy to say 'Yeah, well now we can't find it. The passport is lost. Miss World is in November. You go later, we'll figure out your passport till then'," she said.
"I only cried in front of my father, and said, baba I am not going for anything else," Sushmita put her foot down. Eventually her father sought help from late union minister Rajesh Pilot, who then esnsured that Sushmita could go to represent the country. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Watch the full interview:
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