The highs and lows of a life in the spotlight can be daunting for anyone but actor Sushmita Sen says rather than taking things personally, it is important to acknowledge that people don’t fail, their endeavours do.
Sen, who has made a comeback to mainstream acting after a decade with her critically-acclaimed turn in Disney+Hotstar series Aarya , says she accepts her successes and failures with grace in order to move forward in life.
In the show, the actor plays the role of Aarya Sareen, a happily married woman whose world turns upside down when her husband (Chandrachur Singh) is shot. She gets to know that he may have been involved in an illegal drug racket which now threatens her children.
The former Miss Universe made a career in Bollywood on her own in 2000s with movies such as Biwi No 1 , Aankhen , Filhaal , Samay , Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya and Main Hoon Na but decided to take a break from acting to focus on her health and raising her daughters Renee and Alisah.
Her performance in Aankhen , Filhaal and Samay received critical praise but the films did not do well at the box office at the time of their release.
“I always believe I am a satellite hit because whatever work I did when it came on satellite, it became a hit and people started applauding the performance. But back then, when it was in the theatres, it didn’t work, the actor told PTI in an interview.
Sen, 44, believes what kept her strong during those years was a faith in her abilities.
I define my success, I acknowledge my failures but I also acknowledge that I haven’t failed, my attempts have. There is a big difference. When people don’t know how to differentiate between the two, everybody piles on with the insecurity of being called a failure. That is a very big mistake that people allow others to make on their behalf”.
The actor says she is open to criticism and one can review her badly with some sugar and salt but she will continue to focus on her work and try to give her best.
If you tell me, I fail, I suddenly can’t hear you because that is not acceptable to me. That gives me enough strength to continue. As human beings, we have so much potential that if you allow other people, even if there is a huge crowd of people, that you have failed and not your attempt, there will come a time when you will start to believe it.
Recently, the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput has sparked a huge debate about how outsiders find Bollywood a difficult place to survive whereas insiders and star children flourish.
Sen says competition between insiders and outsiders isn’t new, but what’s important is that it should be a fair game for everyone .
“There has been a discussion about it all over the media and everywhere at this moment. (But) We all have been enduring it, it is not new. Is this something that we have just realised?
“That competitiveness – or now everybody says this word ‘nepotism’ – is a truth you have known for as long as the industry has existed. With awareness, social and digital space, it has increased thousands of folds, she says.
But, the actor believes, every time a crisis hits, one shouldn’t point fingers at each other.
“People should not, in any profession, be destructive or envious of other people’s success. You may not always applaud it but to be envious generates this kind of vicious circle where people just (think) he thought bad of me now wait till his release, I will think bad of him’. It is a vicious circle that continues and nobody ends up gaining, everybody losses.”
According to Sen, nepotism isn’t something that needs to be a “hashtag” today.
“If it needs to change, then all of us need to take responsibility, not one person.”
In 2014, Sen was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a condition which affects the body’s adrenal gland. Meditating and training with Nunchaku, a traditional Okinawan martial art weapon, helped her overcome it.
Recounting her darkest phase, Sen says, Anyone with a chronic condition… It doesn’t matter what kind of chronic illness you have, if it is chronic and not curable, then you have a lot of dark days.
“You have moments where you introspect and go back in time and come forward and think. Everyone has a lot of dreams and a lot of things they want to do but mostly they want to live.”
Sen, who dreamt of becoming famous when she saw Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma become the only Indian to travel in the space in 1984, credits her belief in God and her determination to connect with people through her for overcoming the crisis.
“From that moment I decided to be famous to where I am now, it has been an act of grace, the universe constantly conspiring in my favour. The only thing that can get in my way then is me and the way I think. So, God must have had a plan, otherwise why will he bring me this far?
“I rely on that faith and that has sailed me through some very difficult times. How much ever family and friends support or talk nice things, nothing works more than your connection with God and having faith in him.