Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen comes to Leicester to promote diabetes awareness
Hundreds of fans flocked to the streets to catch a glimpse of Bollywood beauty Sushmita Sen, who made a flying visit to Leicester, to lend her support to a diabetes charity.
The Silver Star charity’s founder-patron Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, who was actually diagnosed with diabetes himself five years ago, invited India’s first Miss universe to the city on May 17th, to launch the inaugural Silver Star Fun Run taking place on July 25th.
The Bollywood starlet was greeted by flashing cameras and cheering fans outside the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre on Rothley Street, as she arrived just before 5pm. Sushmita was asked to release balloons in the air to signify the number of number of people who have been tested for diabetes and also went into a van to get tested herself.
Shimona Rayarel, 14, was at the event along with her parents and younger sister. She said: “Sushmita is my favourite actress – I love her. I’ve seen every film of hers and she’s really great and so beautiful.”
Dipika Mehta, 20, said: “She looks really nice and there are obviously so many people here who want to see her. It feels great to be right at the front. I really loved her in ‘Main Hoon Na’.”
Sushmita, who is visiting the city for the third time, shook hands with fans and signed autographs before heading into the neighbourhood centre, where a special Q&A was arranged with selected ticket holders.
Pravin Ruparelia has been managing the centre for the past 30 years. He said: “There are around 500 to 550 people coming to the event today. The phone has been ringing constantly and we have had to turn so many people away.”
Overwhelmed with the reception she received, Sushmita said: “This has got to be one of the most heart warming and overwhelming welcomes. Thank you so much. It feels like I’m back home in India.
“Today I am here thanks to Keith Vaz and this fabulous initiative – Silverstar charity for diabetes.
Diabetes is such a condition that people have, but they don’t even know it. It’s not a disease that happens to other people but it can happen to anyone.”
Madhvi Tandel, eight, was lucky enough to ask Sushmita a question. She said: “I’m such a big fan of hers and she looks so beautiful. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever seen any Bollywood celebrity and I’m feeling so lucky.”
The actress was at complete ease with the audience as she called a little girl up on stage and blew kisses to the people seated above her. She requested all of the audience members to get their test done and buy a raffle ticket, to be in with a chance to win a car worth £8,000, signed by her (and Amitabh Bachchan who visits the city in June).
Money raised from the raffle will contribute towards a new van, which will be bought and sent to Mumbai, India, giving thousands of people out there the opportunity to get tested.
Keith Vaz MP said: “I am delighted to be marking my 25 years as Leicester East’s representative in Parilaiment. Sushmita is the first of a number of special guests who will be visiting Leicester to support the appeal. If only I was aware of what could be done with diet and exercise to prevent diabetes I might never have developed it. With 850,000 people in the UK living with undiagnosed diabetes, Silver Star’s work is vital.”
Dr Modhwadia, chairman of Silver Star said: “It is a privilege for us to have Sushmita give up her valuable time to our worthy cause. It is only through celebrities like her that we are able to remind people of the importance of being tested for diabetes. From its small beginnings in Leicester, the Silver Star operation now spans thee continents and has tested tens of thousands of people.”
After leaving the centre, Sushmita headed to the Sandicliffe Kia’s Red Cube dealership to sign a brand new Kia Picanto. The actress, who had recently taken a two year sabbatical from the Bollywood film industry is widely recognised for her work towards humanitarian causes and even worked with Mother Teresa a year before she passed away, citing her as her inspiration.
So far Silver Star units have tested 25,000 people in schools, communities, businesses and villages for free resulting in diabetes caught early and many lives and limbs saved.