Adult film star-turned-actress Sunny Leone doesn’t see “objectification” as a bad word, and says that everyone objectifies things and people to sell the product they wish to sell.
In an interview, Sunny, who was recently named in the BBC 100 Women list 2016, talked about working in the Indian film industry and more.
Does the Indian film industry commodifies or objectifies a woman more than they do men?
“I don’t know. I objectify men all the time. Just kidding! Maybe not so much kidding but I don’t see the word ‘objectification’ as a bad word. We all objectify things and products and people to sell the product we wish to sell. For me sometimes, it is selling brand ‘Sunny Leone’. For a film, it’s selling the name with the film,” said Sunny, who is now celebrating her fifth year anniversary in Bollywood.
Talking about her participation in the controversial reality TV show “Bigg Boss” in 2011, Sunny, who is of Indo-Canadian origin, said: “The company came to me, came to my husband actually, and said there’s a show, it’s like ‘Big Brother’, but ‘Big Brother India’. Do you want to be a part of it? I said absolutely not! I do not want to go there and work. They will hate me.
“The only reason I said that was because of a past experience of the Indian community saying you know – I used to work in the adult entertainment industry – and the Indian community would say ‘you’re not a woman’, ‘you are…’ this name that name, you name it they said it.”
So, when the show was offered to her, she said no.
“The following week, they sent me information about the show, the viewership. I thought to myself if I don’t go, this might be one of the biggest career mistakes, I would ever make in my life,” she said.
Why did she choose to stay on in India?
“It is the weirdest feeling when you have all these judgements about something and then you get there and it is the complete opposite and that’s what happened and I was completely wrong to think that, you know, people would not accept me.
“There were groups of people that didn’t and I respect them for it. That’s their choice and that’s their opinion. But there are a lot more people liking me or there are a lot more people that respected me or you know, were happy watching me on television than not.”
She has worked in the adult entertainment industry and now in the Indian film industry. How would she compare the attitudes towards women in both these places?
“I was never questioned about who I was, my sexuality, my integrity as a woman, sexism on set, anything, in the adult entertainment industry. Not once. Where, maybe here, people have to compromise.
“I haven’t but I know that there are people who have compromised and have to compromise on their integrity and who they are and it is probably a horrible feeling,” she said.
Does she think she is judged because of her past?
“Absolutely. But that’s what I created. I know what I am getting into. I know that when someone maybe hires me, they want Sunny Leone to show up or they want to get the ‘Sunny Leone shots’.
“I don’t know what that means by the way but I can guess that it’s something more on the glamorous side or the sexier side. Maybe that some people are not comfortable with, but that’s the image I created so I am okay with it.”