She is undoubtedly the most talked about star right now and she knows it! But does Sunny Leone wear it on her sleeve? Not one bit. Bringing a revelation in the industry, the actress comes clean about her adult business and reveals her Bollywood projects.
Hindustan Times: You're coming back in October. And you had to go back in a huff as Daniel's (her husband) father underwent an open heart surgery. How's everything now?
Sunny Leone: He is doing wonderful and he's recovering quite well. You know, he is getting back to normal. He is 67 years old...67-66 years and it takes a little more time than when you are young. He's doing absolutely wonderful and he is here with us. You know, that's what we wanted.
Sunny Leone Podcast: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Hindustan Times: You've clarified on mail to us that there was never any problem with house hunting in Mumbai. So where have you guys finally bought the house?
Sunny Leone: We are going to finalise once we are there. So, the next time you call me, I will tell you exactly where (giggles). But wefre looking, in fact we have couple of places in mind like Bandra, Juhu, Andheri and maybe Lokhandwala. Alright, itfs open right now! We have put that on hold for now. The housing prices in Mumbai are one of the best in the world. So we will come back and settle on a couple of places.
Hindustan Times: Tell us about your educational background? And who all are there in your family?
Sunny Leone: Well, right now itfs only me and my brother as both my parents passed away over the last four years.
And of course I finished my high school and I did three years of college here in the US and then I started my own company when I was about 19 years old.
Hindustan Times: And what did you study?
Sunny Leone: I studied general college classes and then started my company.
Hindustan Times: Where did you meet Daniel Weber?
Sunny Leone: I met him through a friend of ours. And at the time he was living in New York and I was in Los Angeles, so we never thought itfs going to work out but you know Daniel was very very persistant and one of the nicest guy I have met. And everywhere I showed up, if I go for dinner or appearances, a dozen roses would show up somewhere, a box of chocolates would show up somewhere. Every other day there would be beautiful bouquets, flowers on my doorstep coming all the way from New York.
After we got talking, he courted me for 6 weeks, where he told me all sweet things. And then we used to speak a lot over the phone as we were so far apart. The ability to go on regular dates wasnft there, so we talked a lot on the phone and we got to know each other. Thatfs where it all started.
Sunny Leone with husband Daniel Weber
: Can you describe your relationship with him? Is he your anchor?
Sunny Leone: Daniel is my best friend. I met him right when my mother died. So, he never got to meet her. And most people when you meet now-a-days would not stick around if one is going through such a traumatic phase. But he was very understanding and loving. I would wake up in the middle of the night and he would be there to console...saying that he is there and everything will be fine. He is like my angel. He is my angel!
Hindustan Times: Are you planning a family anytime soon?
Sunny Leone: Well, as much as I would love to, right now I am starting a new life and a whole new career in India. And I think that this world (implying Bollywood) is a lot easier to start a family in than obviously adult is. And itfs a lot easier to plan it out but this very second I donft think so. I have two dogs though! They act like little kids (laughs). My little babies arenft little though, one is about 53 kilos and the other one is about 20 kilos. They are not that small!
As far as children go, I think we will wait a little bit and see what happens. But I do have a very western thinking of you know, you can still work and have kids as far as entertainment industry goes. I donft know how it works in India but here in America, having babies is a part of your natural life. You can continue to work, you can continue to be an entertainer.
All the American actresses do that. They have families, they have lots of children and they still continue to make amazing movies. You can live both lives. I donft see that inhibiting me from not working in Bollywood films.
Hindustan Times: Jism 2 was shot in Sri Lanka, one of the most beautiful locations. How was that experience?
Sunny Leone: Sri Lanka was absolutely beautiful but very hot when we were there. I have never been a part of production of any film and shooting in such a beautiful location. I spent a lot of my time there, at least half of our shoot was done there. But it was nice waking up to a beautiful ocean everyday and it was green and it was pretty.
I loved their orange coconuts. It was like those little things that make you so happy and it was coconuts of all things. And now here I am trying to find coconuts everywhere but they are not as good. So, I miss that.
Hindustan Times: What kind of preparations went into transforming yourself into a Bollywood heroine? Besides the Hindi coaching sessions and voice training?
Sunny Leone: First of all, I didnft see myself as a star. I just saw myself as a new kid on the block who is trying to figure out what this whole world is about. I mean Ifve been in entertainment for a long time, I understand. For that particular movie, it was like diving in the deep end. It was something that I wanted to give 100 percent of it. I never stayed up till late at night, making sure I remember my lines next day, making sure I ask questions etc. I tried to listen to every single word each person on the sets told me.
I just wanted to do a good job and that was my main concern. I am looking forward to the next movie that I am doing ? Ragini MMS because Ifll be attending lot of workshops for this and the Balaji group is absolutely amazing on how they conduct their business. I get updates all the time from them.
Sunny Leone with Arunoday Singh in Jism 2
: In an interview you've said: "Market in India is completely different than it is in US in the context of film business" In what sense is it different?
Sunny Leone: I think every film industry is different. Indian cinema, which I think is great, because there is a lot of focus on songs. In American films, we have the soundtracks but there is nobody singing in the movie. Itfs nothing like a Bollywood movie. I always grew up watching them and I was thinking wow this is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. I never got to wear the saris or lehengas and it feels so amazing.
Hindustan Times: There were several controversies - protests staged against Jism 2 in Amritsar, a PIL filed in Allahabad and Mumbai mayor wanted the posters peeled off. So not all people had their blinders down. What went through your mind then?
Sunny Leone: To be totally honest with you, just these three incidents out of the 1 billion people living in India, there was only these three small protests. I am actually quite happy. I am happy that it was just these small pockets of people protesting.
Hindustan Times: The press conference of the film was quite bold - the famous 'bedroom shoot.' What do you think about marketing gimmicks in Bollywood today?
Sunny Leone: There are gimmicks in every movie. I mean whether itfs an American movie or a Bollywood movie. Every director out there wants to express himself and thatfs his way. There is going to be gimmick in every movie, isnft it?
Hindustan Times: Jism 2 was made on a budget of Rs. 6-7 crores and it did decent business. You got favorable reviews too. Comment.
Sunny Leone: Oh! I am so thankful every single day that the press and the reviewers didnft tear me apart. I am really happy and I know that I have a long way to go.
Hindustan Times: Did you really ask for health certificate from your co-stars before shooting. What were you thinking?
Sunny Leone: The industry I come from, we take it very seriously that every single person, their health records are in a database and if itfs not, then you are not allowed to work. It is a very common norm in my industry, so it was not abnormal for me to ask. I had no idea that this is going to be such an interesting story for a lot of people.
It was a very personal e-mail and I donft know why somebody would want to reveal that information.
The fact that a lot of people think that I have worked with so many different people is actually the opposite. I never kissed a stranger until Jism 2. I know there is a crazy perception of who I am. But Jism 2 was the first film where I ever made out with a man I didnft know ever!
Hindustan Times: Is it true that you have always worked with people you were dating?
Sunny Leone: Ya and the last five years it was just my husband. I live in a monogamous safe little bubble world where most people live. Itfs just that I express myself in a different way. For me it was a legitimate concern.
Hindustan Times: Currently you're working on Ragini MMS 2 which goes on the floors by the year end. What else have you signed up?
Sunny Leone: Hmm thatfs going to be a big surprise (laughs it out). Ifll be signing a very big project. Ifll be doing a lot. So, it is going to be a busy 2013! And like always, I feel blessed. It is going to be the hardest working year of my entire life.
Hindustan Times: Most people come to your work attracted by your exterior, by what they've seen of you on the internet. How comfortable are you with that?
Sunny Leone: I am okay with that otherwise I wouldnft have continued in any other industry. I donft neccesarily need to think what people say or think. For me, itfs always been about the work that I did is beautiful.
Hindustan Times: You're not acting anymore in the adult films, is it?
Sunny Leone: I havenftcI havenft done anything since I wanted to be in Bollywood.
Hindustan Times: But why not?
Sunny Leone: I have been so busy and I have been in India every single month. I think right now I am in a position which is like a crossroad. You have chosen one direction. There are moments which change your life. And I think this is that moment.
Hindustan Times: How would you react to feminists who might judge you for objectifying women?
Sunny Leone: Every single woman in the entertainment business is an object of somebodyfs desire. Whether it is the t-shirt or the jeans they are wearing or the sari they are wearing, everybody looks at these different women as somebody they want.
I believe that every woman should have the opportunity to choose what she wants. Everybody is entitled to have their own opinion.
BIGG BOSS 5
Hindustan Times: In an interview you've said that viewers in India were able to put on blinders and separate 'Sunny Leone the adult actress' from 'Sunny Leone the girl'. What did you feel in your gut when you signed up for Bigg Boss 5?
Sunny Leone: To be honest, I felt a little scared. That was my first initial offer and it seemed too good to be true. I didnft know how the country is going to react to this. It was only after Viacom and Bigg Boss reassured me that the safety of each of their contestants was at the top of their lists, I could go ahead.
I am not just somebody from the regular acting world walking to the sets. So I knew there would probably be a lot of people that wouldnft be very happy about it. My only concern was I didnft want to put other people in danger; I didnft want to put myself in danger. But India proved to be absolutely amazing. I guess, in a sort of way I was judging India and India was judging me. It ended up being; a lot of people loving me than hating me.
Hindustan Times: You declared to the house mates: "I am who I am. And no one twisted my arm to be in this business. I am here of my own accord." Were you wary that you might be judged?
Sunny Leone: I think in entertainment, every single person is judging you in one way or another. Thatfs something you canft get away with. As soon as the camera is on, people are going to judge you. It could be something as simple as your hair or your nail or something you said.
My personal philosophy is that all human beings are good at heart. They can look past something or can judge someone on their personal experience.
Hindustan Times: You were on Bigg Boss 5 for 6 weeks. We know you got Bollywood gawking after that, but how was the experience of being completely cut-off from outside world?
Sunny Leone: Obviously, being cut-off from outside world is very hard and the major challenge for me besides this was that my world was 30,000 miles away. It wasnft 2 hours outside of Mumbai. For me, I was so far away from home and it was very scary. And there were nights where you know I would be baring myself underneath my blanket and thinking what I am doing here, I must have been crazy when I thought it is going to be ok.
When I walked in through the door, I had 30 seconds to say bye to my husband. I wanted to cry but had to smile. It was the first time I was ever apart from my husband so...
Hindustan Times: Would you be interested in any other reality show?
Sunny Leone: It depends on the context of the show. I would be open to any sort of work in India as long as I am comfortable with the company and how it works. Itfs all like experience to me. I believe that every step we take is like a stepping stone towards either something better or something where we learn from.
I donft think I liked being away from my family and it was psychologically disturbing. The experience changed my entire life.
Favourite movie: The Goonies and Singh Is King, I thought it was too cute
Director: You have to give me some time for this one
Last Bollywood film you watched: Mirch Masala
Favourite actor/actress: Akshay Kumar/Vidya Balan