Sunny Leone is the most searched celebrity of 2016 in India. Apart from doing Bollywood movies and item numbers, she and her husband Daniel Weber are working hard to take her brand ahead. On one side, she is in touch with Aamir Khan and on the other, she is sharing screen space with Shah Rukh Khan, but all this did come at a price. In an interview, Sunny talks about the obstacles she faced before reaching this point and how she dealt with people who thought she would never ever make it!
How important is it for you to get big ticket films with A-list actors?
I’m not at the level of some other actresses who are out there, and I am aware of that. So it’s extremely important when I am asked to be a part of big projects. I never thought I will be in the same frame as Shah Rukh Khan and now that I am, I’m on cloud nine. A lot of people are just are waiting for me to fall on my face, they are just waiting for that. They just don’t like the fact that I’m going anywhere.
Why do you get that feeling?
I don’t get that feeling, it was told to my face by people. They said you won’t go anywhere, no actor will work with you.
How do you react to something like that?
My reaction is never sudden because I won’t let somebody know that it bothers me. But moments like getting a big film or getting good work make everything so much better. And to all those people who said ‘You could never do it, you could never get there, you can never work with a big star’, when I get good work and then BBC gives me appreciation like putting me in the 100 Women list in the world with the likes of Alicia Keys, I feel it’s all worth it. I don’t have to say anything to them now, hope they have got the answer.
Are these people from the film industry?
Yes, of course. People in the industry have told me all this.
Was it very tough to make it in India?
Some amazing things have happened over the last five years. I don’t think I have made it or anything like that, but I’m here and I’m working and that’s great. I’m always thinking, ‘What can I do better? How can I grow this brand more?’
After your unpleasant TV interview with a news channel, Aamir Khan called you over and made you feel a part of the film fraternity. He said he has no problems in working with you, a lot of actors showed support on social media. What was that like?
I had never thought that Aamir Khan would go out of his way and call me and that was not it, he is still in touch with me. He sends me text messages just saying, “Hey Sunny, how are you?” These are amazing gestures. I was isolated for so long! But things have changed in the last year for the better.
You have said that there were people who didn’t accept you. Did that trouble you?
Yes, it still troubles me. Those people didn’t have anything nice to say, and when they saw someone treat me so badly, they decided, ‘Okay, she’s human. No, maybe we should talk to her.’ Then they were like, ‘Maybe she’s not such a bad person’.
You have said in the past that there are people in the film industry who have to compromise. So what’s your advice to girls and boys who are trying to get a break in Bollywood?
I would like to tell them to be persistent. Stay consistent with your professionalism, stay consistent with wanting to learn more, do more, you might have to stay up all night, all day! But you have to keep your eyes on where you want be. Just be persistent!
You have worked hard, fought your battles and achieved quite a bit in your life. Who do you owe this to?
I owe it to my husband completely. He allows me to be ‘Sunny Leone’. I don’t think I would have gone as far or done as much with anyone else because at end of the day, there is one person who’s looking out for my best interest. He is not some agent who is just looking at how much commission he can get.
Every time you come to India, what is the one thing you really look forward to?
Just being here! When I came here during the shoot of ‘Jism 2’, I remember looking at the city from a height. The owner of the building said that there is magnetism in India – when you go anywhere else, something will always bring you back here. We didn’t know what that meant. But now every time we go back to Los Angeles for more than a week or so, we just ask each other when should we go back to India? This is the one country where you can make your dreams come true and I truly believe that. Would I be able to do this in America? Absolutely not!