Sunny Leone’s climb to being the most ‘searched’ Indian entertainer on the net, alongside Salman Khan, has not been easy. From her beginnings in the entertainment business as an adult star to her journey into Bollywood, the story is fascinating enough for a filmmaker to actually put together in a full-length documentary. In this candid chat, Leone admits she has yet a long way to go before finding acceptance in mainstream Bollywood cinema.
How has 2015 treated you? What are the best/worst things that happened in your career this year?
2015 was a very interesting year for me.There were lots of up and some downs. The best happening for me was the release of my film Leela. I got a chance to showcase myself differently.
And the lows?
And the lows were the attacks by certain people this year but I have to say it helped me grow and become stronger.
Why do you say that?
My psychological ability to handle some of the bad things that happened has become a lot stronger.
Do you think you’ve made ample headway in Bollywood? Do you see a wider acceptance now than before?
I don’t know about acceptance ,but I’m definitely not going away anywhere and I think people are gradually getting to realise that. Which makes it easier to approach them, or visa versa.
You are now becoming more gregarious in Bollywood?
Yes, I have met a lot more Bollywood celebrities this year. It’s very exciting.
Your two Bollywood releases in 2015 did not do well. Was that a reason for some unhappiness?
Well obviously it doesn’t feel good a movie doesn’t do too well. But I don’t see Leela as not doing well. For me it was a chance to play new characters and so many people in Bollywood appreciated it and my fans loved it.
I saw bits of the documentary on you by Dilip Mehta. It humanizes your story and makes you seem so vulnerable. Are you happy to be projected that way?
I agreed to do this documentary on the pre-condition that it will reveal the truth. In the documentary people will get to know who I really am and what I feel people. My story and my journey will be shared with everyone and I am fine with that.
Apparently your screen name comes from your brother Sunny. How did he react when you named yourself after him when entering the adult entertainment business
Well, when I used that name I didn’t think about it too much and if I knew then I would be this person that I am now, then I would have picked another name.
Why do you say that?
It’s awkward now when my brother and I are together and I have to say, ‘This is Sundeep Singh.’ (laughs).
Do you enjoy the confusion?
Well, it’s not something I had foreseen.
How does your brother feel about your place in Bollywood?
He thinks it’s very exciting. He is not filmy and doesn’t watch Bollywood. Actually when I told him to watch Leela he called me very upset saying don’t ask me to watch movie where your character dies. He couldn’t handle watching his sister die on screen.
Because we had literally watched our parents die in front of us. So it’s very hard to watch even if it’s just a movie.
How often do you meet him?
I see him as much as I can. When I am in the US we see each other everyday no matter what. We are very close and I’m so happy for that. He’s one of my best friends.