Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen hits back after being accused of being a gold digger

Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen (left) recently went public with her romance with tycoon Lalit Modi. PHOTO: LALIT KUMAR MODI/TWITTER

NEW DELHI - Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen, who recently went public with her romance with tycoon Lalit Modi, has hit back at online trolls who called her a gold digger.

Mr Modi, 58, who is a businessman and founder of the Indian Premier League, the world's richest cricket competition, announced on social media last week that he was in a relationship with Sen.

He shared photos of them on holiday in the Maldives and Sardinia, and described Sen, 46, the first Indian to win the Miss Universe title in 1994, as his "better half".

He later edited the caption to read "better-looking partner" after it set off rumours of marriage and clarified they were not married.

Mr Modi lost his wife of nearly three decades to cancer in 2018 and said his relationship with Sen was "a new beginning, a new life finally" and that he was "over the moon".

He has two children with his late wife while Sen is a single mum to two adopted daughters.

Even as congratulations poured in for the high-profile couple, trolls began to leave nasty comments about their age difference and called him a fugitive. Mr Modi was embroiled in a financial scandal involving India's cricket board a decade ago and has been living in London since.

Sen was called greedy and a gold digger by netizens, such as Bangladeshi author-activist Taslima Nasrin, who wondered why Sen was with "a very unattractive person" and if it was "because the man is very rich".

The award-winning actress hit back after news of her new romance went viral, writing in an Instagram post on Sunday (July 17): "I dig deeper than gold… and I've always (famously) preferred diamonds. And yes, I still buy them myself."

She has appeared in hit movies such as Aankhen (2002), Main Hoon Na (2004) and Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? (2005).

Her post won her praise from fellow actresses such as Priyanka Chopra, who wrote in the comment section: "Tell 'em, queen."

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty added, "Love you, Sush, my star", while other Indian celebrities such as Dia Mirza, Ranveer Singh and Neha Dhupia also showed their support in the form of heart emojis.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.