Padma Lakshmi's Marriage: Beauty And The Beaus

Padma Lakshmi’s marriage to Salman Rushie was a marriage of two incredibly complementary peopel, at first, but their fame had the media going crazy. Padma Lakshmi was just a 21-year old college student on a study trip to Madrid, Spain, when she was spotted by a modelling agent at a café. There was something about this dusky beauty that just seemed to grab the agent’s attention – even from miles away. That day, Padma Lakshmi made a foray into the world of fashion, and the next thing you know she was being photographed by legendary fashion photographer Helmut Newton. Padma has reached a long way since that day in the Spanish café, and today is known as the first Indian model to make it big on the international fashion circuit.

But when it comes to Padma Lakshmi’s marriage, the love life of this pretty lady has been one riddled with significant rough patches. Her first marriage with the prolific writer Salman Rushdie crumbled after Padma suffered from Endometriosis – a disease that affects the uterus. She later got involved with the billionaire Teddy Forstmann and venture capitalist Adam Dell simultaneously, which then sparked many debates when Padma announced her pregnancy in 2009. Who is the father to her daughter? Let’s find out.

Padma Lakshmi – Actress, Author and Businesswoman

Padma Lakshmi's Marriage - Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi was born Padma Parvati Lakshmi Vaidyanathan on 1st September 1970 to Tamil parents in Chennai. She was just 2-years old when her parents divorced, and her mother relocated to New York, which is where Padma received all of her education. She eventually went on to graduate from Clark University, Massachusetts in the year 1992.

In 1991, she was spotted by a modelling agent in Madrid, and was immediately offered a modelling assignment with a fat pay cheque. Padma was on a study trip to the city, and her modelling work was a means to pay her university fee and meet other expenses. After her graduation, she dedicated her complete attention towards modelling. Since she was a graduate in theatre arts, she had a knack for acting, which invariably bagged her a role in an Italian TV series in 1997. She was subsequently seen in several Italian television sitcoms and back home in Bollywood was seen for the first time in the Hindi film Boom (2003), sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan and Katrina Kaif. Thereafter post Padma Lakshmi’s marriage, she appeared in TV shows in the US, and is best known as one of judges on the reality TV show Top Chef. Padma is often regarded as a person of many talents and interests, and is known beyond modelling to be an actress, an author and a businesswoman.

Salman Rushdie – The Man Who Found Her ‘A Bad Investment’

Padma Lakshmi's Marriage - Rushdie and Padma

Padma Lakshmi’s first recorded fling was with the Booker Prize winning novelist of Indian-origin, Salman Rushdie. The pair met for the first time at a party held at Queens, New York somewhere in the year 1999. Back then Padma was a single woman, and Rushdie was going through a difficult phase in his third marriage. Padma always admired Rushdie’s work, since she was an ardent reader of books herself, and the two struck a solid rapport right away. The then 51-year old Rushdie requested the 28-year old Padma for a second meeting to which she obliged, and the two finally met for their first official date at Central Park in New York.

“Imagine a young woman in her twenties, who loves books and and who had published her little cookbook and in comes this guy…. I mean, he was the best thing that ever happened to me by a mile.”
– Padma Lakshmi on meeting Salman Rushdie

With Padma already smitten by Rushdie’s vast expanse of work, it was not very difficult for him to woo this lady of nearly half his age. “He seduced me with his words, I was pretty hooked,” she shared in an interview later.

Padma Lakshmi's Marriage - Rushdie and Padma At Their Reception

The following year, Salman Rushdie separated from his third wife Elizabeth West, and moved in with Padma Lakshmi in New York. It was a fiery relationship filled with passion, and ardent admiration towards the other – at least in case of Padma Lakshmi. The couple divided their time with New York and London- which is where Rushdie’s sons lived. The four years of live-in was their road to the wedlock, and it was paved with everything Padma Lakshmi had ever dreamt of.

“For me, it was wonderful because I finally had somebody who understood me.”
– Padma Lakshmi on living with Salman Rushdie

In the year 2004, Rushdie finally got the divorce decree for his split with his third wife, and he wasted no time in tying the knot with Padma Lakshmi. Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi’s marriage happened in April 2004 at Manhattan in a jovial wedding ceremony that was attended by select friends and close family members. Padma Lakshmi wore a purple choli and lehenga. Salman Rushdie was dressed in a black sherwani with a grey dupatta around his neck. Rushdie definitely looked blissful at his fourth wedding, and it seemed a perfect matrimony in spite of the glaring age difference between the couple.

The Beginning Of The Fall

Padma Lakshmi's Marriage - Rushdie and Padma Pose For The Paparazzi

In her memoir Love, Loss and What We Ate (2016), Padma shares that her role as Rushdie’s wife was mostly all about getting herself clicked in “sparkly dress, standing beside a great writer.” Despite that, the initial years of Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi’s marriage were great though, and it was exactly she had foreseen it to be. Rushdie would even cook breakfast for her and serve it on her bed early in the morning. Things were smooth until Rushdie’s mood swings made the first bruise marks on their marriage and relationship. He would also display streaks of jealousy towards Padma’s success by ignoring her in day to day life. While Padma did not consider it a major issue, it was a bad sign in Padma Lakshmi’s marriage, and things started taking a bitter turn right on their second marriage anniversary.

On the night of their second anniversary in 2006, Padma suffered a bout of Endometriosis – a complication of the uterus that causes extreme pain and discomfort. That night she invariably had to turn down the physical advances of Rushdie, who did not take it politely. When she explained him the condition, he tersely said “how convenient”. Rushdie’s apathy shocked Padma but she was stunned when he vocally said to her that she was a “bad investment”. It was the tipping point in their relationship, and Padma realised that Rushdie had more quirks than she had bargained for, and it was time she did something for herself.

The Split With Salman Rushdie

Padma Lakshmi's Marriage - Rushdie and Padma's Wedding Pic

Padma has always been candid about the fact that if there is one thing that she learnt from Salman Rushdie is to think about yourself, and just yourself. After a year of suffering with Endometriosis (and an insensitive husband), Padma underwent a medical procedure that relieved her of the condition. Right on the following day, Salman left the city for some work instead of staying back and looking after his ailing wife. “The show must go on, after all” were apparently his words while leaving the doorway. Those words were like the final act in Padma Lakshmi’s marriage going foul. The day Padma recuperated from the surgery she visited a divorce lawyer and filed for a divorce from Salman Rushdie. After three years of marriage, and nearly eight years of togetherness, Padma decided to mark an end to a relationship with a man for whom she was nothing more than brightly polished arm candy. The couple were granted the divorce decree in July 2007, and the two soon walked away on their separate ways.

“You have the right to tell your side of the story as you see it.”
– Salman Rushdie’s words for Padma Lakshmi when she wrote her memoir

So Who Is The Daddy?

Padma Lakshmi's Marriage - Padma With Adam Dell And Inset With Theodore Forstmann

Shortly after the dissolution of Padma Lakshmi’s marriage with Rushdie, Padma started seeing the late billionaire Theodore Forstmann. It is said one of Theodore’s companies was managing the endorsement and licensing deals for Padma Lakshmi, and that is how she came in touch with him. Theodore had his own share of flings in the past though and was best known to a wider public for his relationship with celebrity ladies. Just like Rushdie, Theodore was decades older than Padma, and seven years older than Rushdie, making many wonder if Padma indeed had a penchant for falling for old men.

In mid-2009, Padma was spotted with a baby bump at social events and parties, which made many speculate that she was pregnant with Theodore’s baby. In fact when her daughter was born in February 2010, whom she named Krishna, Theodore was one of the first one to attend to Padma after childbirth. For nearly a month Padma declined to explicitly name the father of her child during which Theodore lived with the bliss of fatherhood. But it all got shattered in March 2010, when Padma finally named Adam Dell, a venture capitalist, as the real biological father of her daughter. All the while though Theodore raised Krishna as his own daughter, and needles to say he was a bit disappointed to hear the news.

The Parenthood Feud


Padma later shared in an interview that both her partners viz. Theodore Forstmann and Adam Dell were aware that she was seeing both, and each considered themselves as the father. Padma’s relationship with Adam was somewhat shaky and was basically an on-and-off one. Padma had broken-up with Adam Dell in February 2009, and thereafter was seeing only Theodore, who passed away in November 2011. He never was the biological father to Krishna but left a trust in her name- something that could be used to fund Krishna’s education. And that at no point did anyone consider the possibility of Padma Lakshmi’s marriage happening again.

Padma Lakshmi's Marriage - Adam Dell With Krishna

In 2010, Adam Dell filed a paternity lawsuit for the permanent custody of her daughter, which was challenged by Padma Lakshmi. The lawsuit finally went for a median resolution with each parent getting an equal custody of their daughter.

And Life Since Then

Padma Lakshmi's Marriage - Padma

Since the birth of her daughter, Padma Lakshmi had dedicated all her time and effort in raising her daughter. She is also seen investing more effort towards her pursuit of writing, and in early 2016 even came out with a book that narrated her memoirs. Her longest relationship stint was with Salman Rushdie, who later went on to have a brief affair with the Bollywood actress Riya Sen – but that is a different story.

In spite of all the glamour associated with her, Padma has been someone who has been candidly transparent about her ordeals be it Padma Lakshmi’s marriage, her struggle with Endometriosis, and the subsequent paternity turmoil of her daughter. It is good to see that she faced them well with grit and determination making her a truly admirable woman. We wish the svelte beauty the best with life, and extend those greetings to her adorable little daughter as well.

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