Sunny Leone on reliving her past: Wasn't aware how my choices affected my family
Sunny Leone opens up about her biographical series Karenjit Kaur, how she is indifferent to the world's pinion about her and the difficulties of reliving her past
Are you critical of your own work? What do you feel about your show, Karenjit Kaur, as an audience?
I am hypercritical about my work, which is why I waited to watch the show before putting it out there. I knew that if things weren't edited right, I wouldn't give it the go-ahead. But to my surprise, it turned out well.
How involved were you in scripting of this series?
Everything was run and approved by me. I was clear about how I wanted the story told, keeping in mind the writing process and the flow of the story. The writer, Karan [Shrikant Sharma], did a great job of etching the story and Aditya Dutt [director] brought it to life in a tasteful manner.
What prompted you to come on board for your own biopic?
Shareen Mantri from Nammah Films and Daniel [Weber], my husband, came to me with this idea. After my last experience with a documentary, [Mostly Sunny on Netflix], I was not keen on doing anything. Shareen expressed her motive behind telling my story and the route she hoped to take. Something clicked. I wanted people to see a human story, which is probably not what they were expecting me to showcase.
Sunny Leone with husband Daniel Weber and three children Nisha, Asher and Noah
Was it painful to relive the past?
It was beyond difficult to shoot this series. I can't even begin to express what I was feeling. The second season broke my spirit and I'm still trying to heal. I was objectively viewing my life and seeing the other side of the coin brought me to tears. I know my story and the choices I made, but I was not mentally aware of how it affected my family and the other people in my life. I think, that realisation hurt.
What particular sequence reduced you to tears?
The hardest thing to relive was my parents' death. I am aware that they are not my real parents, but the feelings and situation were real. Seeing my on-screen father suffering from cancer, and my mother in a coffin, was not easy to relive. The heartache was not cathartic. While it was my choice to go through this all over again, I assumed that I was ready for it, but I was not.
You have always been savage about questions on your life choices. Did you fear any backlash like Sanjay Dutt received for Sanju?
I am unaware of what backlash Sanjay sir faced, but the little I know of his life, I'm sure it was not easy to share the intricate details. I am not worried about the backlash, because I have told everyone a true story. This is the real Sunny Leone — good or bad, this is who I am. Were my choices right? Maybe not, but in that moment, I believed they were right for me.
Sunny Leone with brother Sundeep Vohra
Many people are of the opinion that you made the series to whitewash your image.
I don't know what people are talking about. My intention was to show the true story. The series is for fans who have always been by my side. I want them to understand that
I am just like them.
Rysa Saujani, who plays your younger self, says that this series will redeem you of people's judgement. Are you seeking redemption?
The biopic series is essentially about my journey and how I made some disastrous choices. I don't care about people judging me. Rysa is a young girl, who endured this process with me. She may have noticed all the hate and judgement surrounding me; and some may have even commented on her, which probably made her say this. That's sweet of her.
The show harps on how much you like money, which was also showcased in Mostly Sunny. Usually, it stems from a rough childhood, was that the case?
I grew up in a simple household and my parents taught me the value of money. It's not common to say out loud, but that is why I work so hard. I am a businesswoman first and creative as well. Logic supersedes everything for me. Now that I have a large family, I will work harder to provide for them. I always wanted a luxurious life, but still be honest. I believe, I have successfully done that. I am not apologetic for liking money as much as the next person.
Everything about a public personality's life is chronicled by the media. Did you ever feel incorrectly represented?
Quite often the media likes to make things up which serves them better; not me or the truth. I understand their thinking, but it doesn't make it morally correct.
After being a vagabond as a teenager, have you surprised yourself by focusing on your career?
I've always been focussed. Aditya sir [director] nurtured me and has been patiently pushing me to bring out the best. This is my best work so far.
Do you have any regrets?
Too many and I'll leave it at that.
The real family
Leone's brother, Sundeep Vohra, is the only person she confided in. By profession, Vohra is a chef. She lost her mother in 2008 and father in 2010 to cancer. The Canadian-born-Indian actor with husband Daniel Weber, has three children — Nisha, Asher and Noah.
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