‘I’m nobody to change Bollywood. I just do what I feel like’ – Sunny Leone

Photo: Tehelka Archives
Photo: Tehelka Archives

After applying light dabs of face powder on Karenjit Kaur Vohra aka Sunny Leone’s cheeks, the make-up artist tries to give the final touch to the actor’s eyelids. While the eyelids were being painted with pinkish eye shadow to make her features look sharper under the arc lights, Sunny looks at Archana Mishra from the corner of her eyes and greets her with a “How are you?” and a remark on the weather in Delhi. She is just back from a promotional tour for her film Mastizaade in New Delhi. 

Done with the make up and with all eyes on her, Sunny takes in all that surrounds her, the dazzle never leaving her eyes. And the poise is difficult to ignore — the mark of a confident woman who knows what kind of questions would be thrown at her and is ready for the usual journalistic repertoire of why-did-yous on the choices she has made. The look in her eyes says, “Bring it on!” She has been there and done that; she knows how to play the media too well to let the attitudes of journalists get to her. She knows her audience is far bigger than what any mediaperson can aspire for.

Edited Excerpts from an Interview

Men as well as women, many, many of them, say one thing about you. That you are very beautiful. Do you see beauty as your biggest asset?

I think beauty is defined in confidence. It is defined in, maybe, how you act. Because sometimes you meet beautiful women or hot, handsome guys, but there is nothing beautiful about their personality or in what they say. For me that is something really big. Being confident and looking good on top of that is important to me.

Is that the kind of beauty you aspire for?

I don’t wake up and talk to myself like that. I don’t know how people generally answer this question or what other women would say. Maybe my husband could answer this question much better. I think it just comes down to my confidence, to how I feel about myself when I wake up. It is more in your mind. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes or perfect shoes. It is all about how you feel about yourself and how confident you are.

People falling for you are legion, but you are still seen as a porn star more than an actor despite the films you have done in Bollywood. What gives you the strength to stand up to the rampant prejudice?

I see myself as somebody who is not bogged down by what others say. I have always been aware of the need for a woman to be strong in this world. I know that not many would make the career choices that I made. It’s not a normal choice by any means and I do realise that. But there is no reason I should be made to feel like I have done something wrong.

Do you believe in the power of your femininity?

I have never used this word for myself, but then I don’t look at myself in that zone of feminism at all. I know it is difficult for a woman, especially in the entertainment industry, to speak her mind.

What gives you the confidence to be different from others?

I really don’t think too much about what I do. There are many people who think about what other people think or how they are going to be perceived or how people are going to take them. That’s alright to be like that. It’s not a bad thing. You must understand that I came from a different industry and at that time I had never thought of stepping into the Indian film industry. I always thought I would start a business in Los Angeles and do so many different things.