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Lavanya Bahuguna


Former Miss Universe India, Ushoshi, Tells How She Twisted Absurd Beauty Standards With Her Curls

  • IWB Post
  •  December 29, 2017


If you ask me, a typical bong is someone with big eyes (definitely, beautiful), coal black hair (most probably, curls), kickass figure (though she hogs on rasgulla all the freaking time), and high cheekbones (everything to envy about).

When I spoke to the former Miss Universe India, Ushoshi Sengupta, all my conventions seemed real! A tall and confident woman who knows exactly what she wants from her life. Below, read my conversation with the stunning Ushoshi who won the title of ‘I Am She – Miss Universe India’ and represented India in Miss Universe 2010.Ushoshi Sengupta

Me: To begin with, what does Ushoshi mean?

Ushoshi: It means the first ray of the sun. When the first ray of the sun touches the earth, that particular moment is called Ushoshi.

Me: Tell us about your family that’s given you a beautiful name.

Ushoshi: My father was with the Indian air force and so, we kept moving. I was born in New Delhi and grew up in Gujarat. We moved back to Kolkata when I was in my 8th standard. My mother is a homemaker, and I entirely owe everything in my life to her. On the other hand, my father has always been my inspiration as he inspired me to be fearless and become a go-getter. BTW, my parents are childhood sweethearts.

Talking about my lil’ quickly, she is my calm. I have been the troublemaker and she has always been the peacemaker at home. I always feel like a headless chicken without her.

Me: Talking about the life after 2010 that is seven years after the grand day, what has and hasn’t changed in your life?

Ushoshi: Life has changed completely for me after winning Miss India. I had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places around the world, meet many influential people. I love my work; I love the camera, and I know it loves me back. I don’t think I can ever leave the visual industry, but I have been exploring more in terms of setting up new business ventures. I am always seeking new opportunities to grow. I am a better, stronger and more mature than what I was at 21.

Me: That’s the fearless Ushoshi everyone knows about.

Ushoshi: What hasn’t changed is, I guess, my roots. After a day of hard work, I love to go back home and have dinner prepared by my mom.

Me: Which food do you enjoy the most?

Ushoshi: Bhaat daal, aloo poshto maach.*laughs*

Me: Maach, eh!

Ushoshi: Nothing compares to that. *chuckles*

Me: Well, no one can resist food like that. But in your profession, one is always under a constant beauty pressure, right?

Ushoshi: Every individual has his personal journey. There will always be someone prettier, hotter, smarter, and maybe more deserving, but what matters is how much you actually want it more than them! Once you realize that, give it your all. What you seek is seeking you back. Trust me.

Me: What tips do you have for the aspiring models?

Ushoshi: Understand your body and its positives and limitations. Work around them; also know what works for you. In the modeling industry, there is a lot of competition. Don’t give up too easily or get disheartened. Not everyone bumps into a Dr. Jahangir (ref: movie Dear Zindagi), so be your own therapist. Seek answers from within!

And most important, listen to what your heart has to say. Don’t ever create a situation to regret later.

Me: When you started, were you ever told that you don’t fit the ‘absurd beauty standard’ (fair skin and straight hair) of the industry?

Ushoshi: Well, I guess there are critics everywhere. They are there to challenge you. I have always taken criticism with grace. When I started modeling, they said I looked a certain way and didn’t fit into the traditional idea of beauty, but I did it anyway. When I wanted to be Miss India, they said it will be difficult. When I joined films, they said I was too thin. None of that mattered, I did it anyway. I am not competing with anybody but myself. I have a beautiful family, great friends and the people I love and care for around me. That’s the real treasure.Ushoshi Sengupta

Me: What’s your idea of fit?

Ushoshi: Size zero is a myth. Nothing unhealthy is ever cool. I get asked this many times, which how I stay so thin. The idea is to understand your body. I love to eat and if you ask my people they will tell you that I cannot live without food. But what works for me might not work for you. It’s important to know your body before planning to lose or gain weight. There will be many who will body-shame you, but in the end, it only matters whether you are ashamed of your body.

Me: When you say ‘I Am She’, what do you mean?

Ushoshi: “She” is a woman! A strong independent, fierce woman, who speaks her mind, makes her choices and takes full responsibility for them. She lives her life to her accord; a life without any regrets. She is someone who is unbound by any fear. And when I say “I AM SHE” I mean I AM this woman!

Me: Share a funny moment from the backstage of Miss Universe pageant.

Ushoshi: Oh, there were many! When the Top-10 was to be announced, Sushmita Sen came backstage to tell the girls that Shahrukh Khan was going to host that segment. I was the first girl Sushmita called on the stage, and of course, I went crazy. I guess it was my biggest fangirl moment when I hugged Shahrukh and refused to let go. Ha-ha.

Ushoshi Sengupta

Me: I am sure! And how does Sushmita inspire you?

Ushoshi: A fond memory of her is watching her get crowned on TV as a kid. The fondest memory with her was hugging me when I won Miss India. I must be really lucky or must have done something great in my past life to be surrounded by the people I love. To grow up idolizing someone and then to have her as my mentor is a dream come true. She is my dream come true.Ushoshi Sengupta

Me: Who’s your favorite designer? Also, is your wardrobe full of Kolkata sarees?

Ushoshi: There are actually so many of them! I absolutely admire Sabyasachi, Anamika Khanna, Atsu Sekhosa, and Rocky S.

My mom’s wardrobe is full of sarees, and I keep borrowing them. And then I have my friend and brother Sandy who is also a stylist. Honestly, I can’t do without him.

Me: After stalking you a little on FB, I see you LOVE your Boudi. Talk about her.

Ushoshi: Yes I do! Her name is Sanchita Sengupta and she’s a stunner. You know you always have that one sister-in-law in the family who is the epitome of beauty, class, and perfection. She is that one! I mean it’s inspiring how she is so gorgeous and intelligent. She has a sharp mind which gets projected in her talks. Her opinions are strong and make sense. To top it all, she is a wonderful daughter to my family. I always reach up to her for any advice.

Me: And you’ve got a dog, Poshtooooo! Say hello to Poshto from Poppy, our Dogger-in-chief!

Ushoshi: Love to Poppy! My dog, Poshto, has changed my life in every way. As a kid, I grew up being very scared of dogs. Once a dog bit me and since then, I had developed a fear. I remember whenever I used to come back home late, I would call my sister to pick me up as I was too scared of the street dogs. And then one day my sister rescued Poshto and brought him home. Initially, he used to live in our balcony and then one day, our kitchen chimney caught fire while we were having breakfast in the living room. Poshto ran to my mother and got her to the kitchen. The situation was taken care of immediately. He is amazing. *smiles*Ushoshi Sengupta

Soon after that, he earned his right to live inside the house, and I became a dog lover. It’s incredible I understand his language now.

I would like to request everybody who has ever been scared of dogs, please get a puppy. Adopt them from the street, and I promise, it’s going be a life-changing experience. Poshto has filled up our lives with happiness.

Me: Aww, that is so sweet. Moving on, talk about founding the organization TES.

Ushoshi: TES is a social community based on Howard Gardners multiple intelligence theory. We help you in assessing your various bits of intelligence to understand what might be the best-suited activities for you. It helps you understand your learning style and learning capabilities.

I heard about this process when I was in Mumbai and thought to bring it to Kolkata. My vision with TES is to make it into a community where people from different kinds of intelligence can share ideas and interact with each other. It’s an attempt to make people aware of their strengths and help them in engaging in activities best suited for them.

Me: You were a part of this Bengali film called ‘Eagoler Chokh’. Share about it a little.

Ushoshi: Eagoler Chokh was my debut Bengali film. I play Shyamangi. A young working NRI Bengali girl who is back in the city after her sister gets shot critically. It explores how she is a part of this murder mystery and also addresses a critical issue of child abuse. Egoler Chokh is directed by Arindam Sil and is produced by Shree Venkatesh films. I guess I got lucky to get such a fantastic team. The film also stars Shashwata Chatterjee, Jaya Ehsaan and my absolute favorite Payel Sarkar.

Me: You LOVE Fawad Khan, right? So if Fawad Khan makes your day better, what ruins it?

Ushoshi: *laughs* TBH, nothing can ruin my day. I am very happy and optimistic person. I believe that we have the power to change any dull moment into happiness and then, of course, there is Fawad Khan. *winks*

Of all (Sush, SRK, Fawad, & Machher Jhol), I think Poshto deserves to be called Ushoshi’s first love. What do you think? 😉

(Photos are Ushoshi’s own)

This article was first published in December 2016.

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