Sunny Leone admits to being in a state of shock. “It will take a week for it to settle down in my mind and heart,” she says. We catch up with her just when she has delivered some unexpected numbers. Sunny’s latest Bollywood film, Ragini MMS2, has had an amazing weekend box office collection of Rs 23.3 crore. In between giggles of obvious happiness and the constant assertion—“God alone knows what the future will bring to me”—Sunny can’t help not revealing her ultimate aspiration: of gliding smooth as silk into the mainstream. After reigning on the fringes, the ex-porn-star of international repute (see box) is seeking the respectability of the conventional. “I always wanted to be in the mainstream, to do good films with good filmmakers,” she says. But the question that comes knocking on everyone’s mind is if she will ever be admitted into our traditional pantheon of heroines? The answer hovers between a yes and a no.
Vivek Pareek, editor, Maxim India, is optimistic: “It will probably take extensive training and developing a new skill set, but the new moviegoer is not straitjacketed. I guess there’s room for someone with her particular appeal.” Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt has a contrarian view. “There are no second chances when it comes to first impressions,” he says. For him, Sunny’s films have been about ‘gratifying’, not ‘edifying’. “If a film of hers doesn’t communicate that brand, it will only confuse the viewers,” he says. “Hers has been the erotic route to acceptability, and converting to another constituency doesn’t happen easily. She can’t delink herself from Brand Jism,” he says. Shailesh Kapoor, CEO, Ormax Media, also points out that she has a ‘specific equity’ that she may lose in a ‘normal’ movie. “She would become one of those Jacqueline kind of heroines—replaceable, with no appeal of her own.”
Even Sunny is aware of it. More than taking on the encrusted biases of the conservative industry and audience, she knows that it’s her own reinvention that will be difficult. She is setting out at it one film at a time. The strategy is simple: to carry forward the persona of a porn star, but try and be more. “Each of my roles will be defined by who I have been but with every new film I will try to be taken more seriously as an actor,” she says.
Also, Ragini’s Sunny seems to be at a real-life juncture: trying hard to showcase herself as an actor. But her entry into Big Boss 5 could well have been that first step towards this much desired reinvention, though Sunny now looks back at it as “whim, hunch, intuition” rather than a conscious decision. “I had no idea about the Indian TV and film industry. Big Boss just happened, but in hindsight, it’s the best decision I have ever taken; otherwise, I wouldn’t be in the position where I am now,” she says. Her entry came at a fortuitous time, when ‘adult’ cinema was being treated adult-like, rather than being swept under the carpet, confined to morning shows in seedy halls. “It wasn’t as though I was reinventing the wheel, doing things that someone else hadn’t done before,” she says. Bipasha and Mallika had trod her territory, albeit a lot more softly. “Many have tried and worked towards being associated with ‘provocative’, but it has proved to be a natural extension of Sunny’s previous work profile,” says Pareek. She is also different from other sleaze dolls like Poonam Pandey or Sherlyn Chopra. Perhaps because Sunny doesn’t have to try so hard (or play/act the sexual rebel), and is easygoing with who she is and what she does. “I am comfortable with myself and I regret no decisions,” she says. “Her international status creates value. She is classy, not tacky,” says Kapoor.
It’s truly an out-of-body experience to watch her on screen in a hall filled with hormonal young men, their collective, orgiastic wolf-whistles scarier than the ghosts and the witch in the film. Like any other porn star, Sunny effortlessly brings out the silly boy in any grown-up man. Even the sombre Outlook office gets collectively keyed up about which pictures of hers to use in the magazine. The words I write on her, obviously, don’t matter. Why would they? As expected, her life is spread out like a salacious book on the internet. This profile, certainly, wouldn’t add much to the information pool that brimmeth over. Her intimate details are all in the public realm: from her relationship with standup comic Russell Peters and her Audi 5 to when she kissed for the first time and the infamous breast augmentation.
Sunny is too busy to care. “The most that I have ever worked has been in 2013, and 2014 seems to be shaping up even better,” she says. Coming up next is Tina and Lolo—about two women on the run. “You won’t miss the usual me,” she tantalises. “There are bold scenes in the film, but it’s in a lighter vein. It’s a cute film, where I have done comedy for the first time.” Meanwhile, as we go to press, Ragini MMS2 seems to have made Rs 31.3 crore in five days. It has also led the little-known Hindu Janjagruti Samiti, in its memorandum to the Central Board of Film Certification, to demand a ban on it, as well as Sunny’s deportation from India. The journey from porn to adult to universal acceptance has only just begun for Sunny, but her filmography ahead is bound to chart a transitory course.
The story on Sunny Leone was nice (Not Un Certain Regard, Apr 7), but does Outlook really need a centrespread? If you must have one, try resurrecting someone like Katy Mirza from Debonair. Sunny doesn’t just foot the bill.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Ekta Kapoor and other Ritual Hindus of Bollywood (RHB , who only go to temples for money and rituals) are responsible for packaging a talent-less , worthless porn actor as some sort of liberaton icon of change . A news magazine like yourself , giving cover space is even more pathetic . Let it be known that no one can ever take her seriously. This only goes on to delegitimize bollywood in the eyes of real viewers . I could understand modi-bashing , but this !?? Sad !
Paradoxically , porn is known to objectify and demean women and your cover also is defending Tejpal . Looks like Mr. Vinod Mehta is pulling strings to save his former acolyte and outlook is bending over (pun intended) . And , did Leone pay you any money , btw ?? She is from the west , makes good use of publicists for image management.
"The superior man understands what is right , the inferior man understands what will sell." ---- Confucius
Sunnys' acceptance has opened the door for other adult actresses with Indian connections, namely, Shanti Dynamite and Priya Rai - so far.
Allure of mainstream bollywood would bring more and on ther hand if sushma aunty makes the cut for I&B, what she would do.
Some interesting times ahead.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT