I like Sunny Leone. She is sharp and quick on the uptake, gives honest, non-hypocritical answers and doesn’t shy away from talking about her past, or so I have experienced. But now one hears she is devastated because she was grilled about her porn days during a television interview.
Sorry, but that’s not the Sunny Leone I know. I know the soft-spoken Sunny and her very courteous husband Daniel Weber from the time they arrived in Bollywood. I hadn’t seen her films before that. And I’ve never been curious or voyeuristic enough to click into her pre-Bollywood phase, when both Sunny and her husband were adult-content actors.
She must have had her reasons for doing what she did, but beyond that, a documentary is being made on her life before and after Bollywood, picturesquely entitled Mostly Sunny Partly Cloudy. In it, she speaks realistically about her life as a porn star (okay, adult-content actress, if that makes the perpendicular-into-the-horizontal vocation less squirmy).
There is no embarrassment or apology in Sunny Leone’s tone in the docu, even when she discusses how she broke the news to her conservative Punjabi parents about what she did to earn her living.
Dilip Mehta (who incidentally is Deepa Mehta’s brother) and I have discussed Sunny’s attitude to her past and he said, “Most of us tend to carry baggage from our past that we somehow want to shed. Sunny, on the other hand appears to be among a handful of people who seemingly has no regret of her life journey. She is non-evasive and proud of the choices that made her a hugely successful part of a multi-billion dollar industry. And it's not as though I'm sharing a previously untold secret with you. Almost unfailingly in all the interviews to Indian and international media, she doesn't shy away from her previous career choices, although she does firmly reiterate that the past is the past.”
In one of her interviews with me, Sunny had said, “If it wasn't for my past I would not be who I am. I am not ashamed of it because it has brought me here to India. If I came here as regular me with no entertainment experience then I would not be as popular as I am today with the public."
And so, why are we getting so hyper-righteous about a television journalist raking up her past when the spunky Sunny Leone is not the least apologetic about it? Suddenly from complete non-acceptance of her past we are moving to a point where were are dangerously close to endorsing the porn trade.
Sunny’s triumph is complete, though. From smirks and sniggers, she is now seen as portrait of courage and grace, when faced with a situation under pressure. Aamir Khan, himself under fire, says he would like to work with her. Very soon we may reach a stage where anyone who hesitates in working with her would be labelled misogynistic, if not anti-national.
This is the Indian appetite for melodrama.