If you’ve never seen the name “Sunny Leone” there’s a chance you’re probably lying.
Leone is an Indian ex-pornographic actress. The spotlight is on her again, but for a different reason. Now, she dreams of successfully entering the Bollywood film business.
Born in Canada, the 34-year-old has a pretty successful career under her belt (sorry…) and, in all honesty, a consenting adult with a talent to act should be able to pursue a ‘respectable’ Bollywood goal.
But Leone has been living in India for the past five years, and the folks around her haven’t taken kindly to her past.
Pretty hard to imagine that a woman whose background includes “Descent into Bondage” and “Costumed Damsels in Distress” is having trouble transitioning to Indian cinema, right?
The socially conservative culture that thrives in India certainly did not go easy on Leone in the beginning.
She was the most searched celebrity on Google in India for the last three years (I wonder why), and it’s obvious that she sparked a little controversy. Social media was fortunately rather supportive after Leone, according to RawStory, “calmly faced down what many felt was a misogynistic grilling about her past by Bhupendra Chaubey on his top-rating TV show.”
Chaubey assertively suggested that Sunny Leone’s actions were linked to the increase in India’s pornography viewing.
He was also reported to have berated Leone with the suggestions that cigarettes are linked to an increase in lung cancer risk, Donald Trump is linked to an increase in American xenophobia, and water is linked to an increase in hydration. Hard-hitting stuff.
“When I first got into the industry it was definitely not a good feeling when people are not so happy about your choices in life…But as time has gone by, especially over the last six months, I’ve gotten to know and I’ve gotten to meet some amazing celebrities and it’s a journey.” – Sunny Leone
Leone apparently did quite well in the adult film business; she was even named “Penthouse Pet of the Year” in 2003.
In 2011, upon moving to India, she appeared on the local reality show Bigg Boss, and she debuted in a Bollywood film in 2012. Since then she’s been in more than eight Indian movies. She’ll soon appear in a “risqué” comedy titled “Mastizaade” (Hindi for “born out of mischief”). Jan 29 if you care.
In Mastizaade, Leone plays the sexy woman in a bikini named Laila as well as the geeky but cute Lily. Commentators suggested that the roles may objectify women.
“Just don’t watch the film…movie’s for adults only, it is adult humour.”
“When I came here there were a lot of people who didn’t want me here and there were a lot of people who had lots of crazy things to say about me…I have so many more fans who care about me, that like me, that like the movies that I’ve put out, or songs or photo shoots. I’ve had more supporters than I’ve had haters.”
She recounted one of toughest moments in India–a woman filed a police complaint against her in Mumbai for “promoting obscenity and destroying Indian culture and society.”
Now, that’s a problem.
Here we have Leone, who first made a career out of doing what many people view as controversial and “obscene,” and another person complaining about Leone’s mere presence because her choices make her uncomfortable.
How ironic that many women who condemn porn actresses have no idea that their husbands and boyfriends are upstairs yanking their chain to said actresses.
“It’s definitely something that did affect me. It was not fun at all…Hopefully situations like that don’t come up again because I’m not a part of that world anymore and I don’t think it’s fair to bring up things that have no merit at this point in time in my life.”
Society, especially Indian society, perhaps has not yet evolved completely to a level of total acceptance of sex work. It just hasn’t. That’s the large conversation Sunny Leone may as well start. She has as much a right to enter a traditional film industry as I or any other citizen does.
– NO! She doesn’t! That disgraceful whore is destroying India!!! ASDKFGREOJGEAVL!!!!
Right. Sure. Fine. She’s the reason for India’s problems. And Canada’s and America’s and Jesus’s. Whatever.
Judging by Leone’s account that she has “more supporters than haters,” we have a sliver of hope that societal attitudes are beginning to change. The past will hopefully not dictate who a person dreams to become. That’s the essential aspiration, shouldn’t it be?
Also, it makes no sense to enjoy a service and then sh** on those who provided it. (Unless they’re into it.)
we’re all human.