Since she made her Bollywood debut in 2012, she has already starred in over half-a-dozen films. But Sunny Leone says she has become “very picky” about her projects now. Here, the 34-year-old talks to us about living in Los Angeles (USA) and in Mumbai, as she also reacts to a politician’s snide remark about her condom ad.
You divide your time between Mumbai and Los Angeles, where you grew up. Which city do you miss more?
I call it the double-edged sword or having the best of both worlds. When I am here, I miss LA, and vice versa. They are two totally different worlds. One is a place where I want to be as far as my career goes. I love being here. But when I go home, I see my brother and my dogs and my family. Because no one knows me there, I can drive to the grocery store. We do our own laundry. We do everything that we would never do here. I don’t know which one is easier or harder.
A recent online story had a headline, ‘Why is Sunny Leone responsible for everything in India…’
I ask myself the same question, and want to know, ‘Why is it my fault?’ I have no idea and I don’t even know the answer. But somehow I am at fault for a lot of different things that happen here (smiles), but [a few] things have been going on even before I got here.
Have you become used to such unwanted attention?
I don’t know if anyone can ever get used to some of the things that happen. Does it affect me? Yes. Daniel (Weber; husband) and I have to discuss such things out loud because he deals with such things on a different level, and I deal with it probably on a more emotional level. I think Daniel gets more upset. But I guess, at the end of the day, you have to brush it off your shoulders the way you brush your hair (smiles).
A few days back, a politician said that condom commercials, like the one you star in, will lead to more rapes in India.
I am promoting safe sex. If a family isn’t ready to have a baby, it’s a good method of contraception as it doesn’t affect a woman’s health, as compared to birth control pills, which affect a woman’s body, mind and hormones. I don’t see it as a bad thing.
You have a certain past image, and you also rarely respond to anything written about you. Do you think that makes you a soft target?
Am I am soft target? Yes. I believe I am. Does it s**k? Yes. It’s horrible that people see us this way. And I won’t respond, because the moment I say something, the detractors get what they want (publicity). So, neither I nor my husband will let that happen.
It was recently reported that you are planning to sue filmmaker Kanti Shah for using your name in his upcoming movie’s title. Is this true?
I saw the poster and it is horrible. No one has the rights to my life story or my name. If it was the US, it would have got canned in 10 seconds. But we aren’t in the US, so things take a little longer here. Who knows, they might have done it just for publicity?
Your next film (directed by Milap Zaveri) has been cleared by the censor board, but apparently it got over 100 cuts.
I have watched the film, and it is pretty much intact. It’s everything that people think it’s going to be, if not more. People will be shocked after watching it (smiles).
Being an outsider, and with your past image, is Bollywood a difficult place for you?
There are certain aspects that are difficult. I don’t have a mentor, nor do I come from a film family. In a way, I like it, because I am not a person who wants to be held down or be told what to do. I like doing what I want to do. I might make mistakes, but I like the idea of doing everything on my own terms.
You have a certain image. As a result of that, do you get a lot of similar roles?
I do get a lot of scripts that are in the same zone or similar to what I have already done. It’s probably my fault (laughs). But I also get scripts that aren’t in that zone. Then, there are scripts that I love, but nothing comes of them.
You’re also set to launch a perfume line now...
The perfume line is the first step towards a grand plan. And I am not its brand ambassador; I am the owner. If that does well, and based on the response, I’d like to branch out into different areas. If we are going to be in the industry, we might as well invest back into the brand and products I am passionate about. — Prashant Singh
Sunny Leone on censorship in India
We don’t live in a country where you can just shoot any material and use it, and people won’t get offended. Makers have to be careful. I respect the decisions that the government makes or our censor board makes. They make it for a reason, whether we understand them or not. I haven’t had a one-on-one conversation with the censor board authorities (smiles). I actually don’t know if they love me or hate me or what it is. Sometimes, I am happy because they help me out as they cut something and I am like, ‘God, I am glad, they have edited it.’ But filmmakers don’t like it.