It’s rumoured that recently divorced Sir Salman Rushdie has found someone to smooth the rumpled feathers of his ego — in the shape of the lovely 27-year-old Riya Sen. 61-year-old Sir Salman, who was voted the best-ever Booker Prize winner for Midnight’s Children, met Riya at a nightclub in Mumbai, a little after his divorce from model Padma Lakshmi. He’s been wooing her ever since.
Riya is being a little cagey about the relationship. “We get on really well but we are just friends. I met him through a family friend. I have spoken to him a few times. I think when you are Salman Rushdie, you must get bored with people who always want to talk to you about literature. We did not talk about any of that,” she was quoted as saying. I wonder what they did talk about? Whatever it may have been, it was enough for Sir Salman to invite Riya to visit him in New York.
Four times married Sir Salman has said he doesn’t believe in marriage as an institution. “It’s strange, given that I’ve been married four times but I actually don’t think marriage is necessary. Girls like it, especially if they’ve never been married before — it is the dress. Girls want a wedding, they don’t want a marriage,” he said, somewhat naively for a Booker Prize winner.
Life has not always been easy for Salman. A long-standing fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini forced him into protective hiding for nearly ten years following the publication of The Satanic Verses because it was felt that the book mocked aspects of Islam.
Riya comes from a tradition of great actors. Her grandmother was top Bengali actress Suchitra Sen and her mother Moon Moon Sen. Her sister, of course, is Raima Sen. Within the industry, Riya is seen as being on the outrageous wing of the Bollywood milieu, being famous for posing semi-nude in a calendar and kissing on screen. Riya has trained in kathak, kickboxing and belly-dancing and is an active charity worker, campaigning on behalf of World Children’s Week and in favour of Aids Awareness. Her movie career finally looks set to take off having recently caught the eye in Heyy Babyy!