My namesake is dating Lalit Modi. Why do we care so much?

Former IPL chairman Lalit Modi, recently announced that he is dating Bollywood star Sushmita Sen


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Sun 17 Jul 2022, 2:19 PM

Last updated: Sun 17 Jul 2022, 8:54 PM

What are the chances that you pick up your phone after 20 minutes of non-engagement with the gadget, and WhatsApp blinks you at least 20 new messages — all of them forwards and screen grabs of the same piece of ‘breaking news’: that former Miss Universe and current Bollywood/OTT actress Sushmita Sen, and former IPL chairman and current fugitive in India (in residence in London) Lalit Modi are ‘dating’?

Okay, if it had been an announcement that World War III was descending upon us or that the North Pole was on fire, I’d have understood the flurry of urgency. But, seriously, Lalit Modi and Sushmita Sen vacationing together and saying sweet nothings about each other grabbing everyone’s mind space like super glue is a bit much, no?

As it devolves these days, the moment a particular personage begins to trend on social media — for whatever silly reason — there are frantic attempts by all news sites to stay ahead of the curve. In this case, there were listicles collated double-quick on Ms Sen’s biggest hits and her daughters, and Lalit Modi’s eating habits and evolving fortunes (and misfortunes — in the shape of the IPL disgrace). There were debates on whether she’s a gold digger, even as some websites threw up hastily-compiled data on how Ms Sen has a sizeable fortune (of her own) accrued in any case; one site helpfully tabulated her annual AND monthly earnings — the latter I realised was the result of divvying up her annual income by 12. There were virtual fights breaking out on Twitter and Facebook and the rest of the apps; Sushmita Sen fans were being trolled by her haters, while the fans asked trolls to salvage their pathetic lives and basically go to hell. The meme factory went into overdrive; there were some genuinely funny ones, but, tell me, why do people get creative only when they derive a vicarious high?

“This is Pulitzer-winning stuff,” someone said while forwarding me yet another episode of the saga. Sushmita broke up with model Rohman Shawl in December last year; she announced it on social media back then. Apparently, Lalit Modi ‘Liked’ the post: obviously, someone somewhere had gone through ALL the Likes (millions?) that post garnered and triumphantly zeroed in on Lalit Modi’s thumbs up. This matter was duly reported, in an OMG-he-must-have-already-set-his-sights-on-her-back-then-when-she-had-become-newly-single tenor. And then, there was a vigil kept on that same December 2021 post (as a follow-through to the earlier piece) because it came to light that Lalit has suddenly ‘Unliked’ it. That immediately became a new trending story: ‘Did Lalit Modi Just Unlike Sushmita Sen and Rohman Shawl’s Breakup Announcement Post?’

Not to be outdone by vigil-keeping sites, a Bollywood one managed to get a quote out of the ex factor, Rohman. This is how ex-boyfriend Rohman reacts to the news that his former lady love is now in love with someone else — was how clickbait was laid out for rabid readers. “Let’s be happy for them… Love is beautiful,” was all he said.

There was another piece on how actor Ranveer Singh reacted to the news on Twitter (or was it Instagram?) — obviously favourably, full of congratulatory warmth. In the excitement to be one step ahead of competitors, the editors glossed over the fact that “Ranveer added evil” is not quite the same as “Ranveer added an evil eye [the emoji]” — to keep the ‘happy couple’ safe from any negative vibe they may be attracting.

A report that received a lot of ‘care’ and broken-hearted and teary-eyed emojis was the one on Sushmita’s brother being quoted as saying he had no idea about this dating game, but he still had his game face on when he said he was “pleasantly surprised”, and that he would speak to his sister soon.

Away from the media circus, WhatsApp was in full flow: everyone was talking about ‘l’affaire Sen and Modi’. Taking a break and meeting someone face-to-face would probably be a more ‘grounded’ experience. How wrong I was.

“What do you think of Belgravia?” a friend asked the evening the news broke last week.

“Nothing really,” I said, “though I liked Scandal in Belgravia. We are sitting in Bur Dubai currently, why do you have Belgravia in mind?”

“Lalit Modi lives in Belgravia,” she responded solemnly. “Do you think your namesake will move there now?”

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