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Sunny Leone’s Success Deserves Appreciation, Not Shaming

Sunny Leone’s film Kennedy received a seven-minute standing ovation at the recently concluded Cannes Film Festival.

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Image: AP
Image: AP

JUST being here is a dream come true,” said Sunny Leone in a recent interview after her film Kennedy earned a seven-minute standing ovation at the recently-concluded Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, the film revolves around an insomniac ex-cop (Rahul Bhatt), who is assumed to be dead, but is looking for redemption. Following the massive applause at the prestigious festival, Sunny couldn’t hold back her excitement and elation. So while we celebrate Sunny’s well-deserved success, we can’t overlook the path that got her here.

Sunny was all of 20 when she received hate mails for the first time in her life, which in her own words had “affected” her a lot. She was “vulnerable and broken from within emotionally”. Such was the impact that she had initially said “no” to Bigg Boss offer as she didn’t want to turn into a subject of public contempt, scrutiny and irrational revulsion.

Years later, while being interviewed by actor Kareena Kapoor Khan for her show, Sunny analysed the malcontent people had against her and concluded that her haters are her fans. They write, re-write, spell-check lengthy & hard-hitting comments before posting them on her website and stay on her page for long hours. So clearly, her haters are fans in denial!

Not just hate mails, Sunny also had to battle judgmental and sexist comments as an actor. Remember how a popular TV host was turned into a punching bag for his misogynistic questions and offensive statements about Sunny?

‘Do you think your past will continue to haunt you?’, ‘There are lots of married women who look at Sunny Leone as a threat to their husbands. Do you not care about all this?’, ‘Am I being morally corrupt because I’m interviewing you?’ were some of the questions Sunny was asked, all in the bid to show her as a victim of her choices.

While the interview could have also been an attempt to show her as a woman joining the showbiz industry to corrupt the world, Sunny proved the opposite. In the last 12 years that she has invested in Indian showbiz industry, Sunny has come across as a woman of substance who has survived solely because of the viewers’ love, support and acceptance.

Sunny may have been accused of promoting obscenity because of her past as an adult film star, but she has braved condemnation with dignity, grace and a smile on her face. 

For a long time, Sunny was only offered projects aligned with her image as an adult star. Critics slammed her for doing films that dwelled on titillation & laid more emphasis on her curves than her acting potential.

Top actors maintained a safe distance from her. Actresses refused to share the stage with her to give out awards. Many didn’t want her to win awards.

Cases were filed against her stating that she was ‘destroying’ Indian culture. But none of this could change the “real” Sunny. She still remains fearless and feisty.

Despite all the disappointments she has faced in her career, Sunny continues to win hearts with her courage to let criticism fuel her personal growth.

This is why her fan base remains untouched.

Remember her Kerala visit in 2017? An unbelievable army of enthusiastic followers took to the streets to welcome her and made it look like she is some sort of deity.

Sunny was in Kerala to inaugurate a cell phone store, but didn’t expect fans’ overwhelming love which made many referring to her as a PM candidate and drawing comparisons with Khaleesi, the Mother of Dragons from Game of Thrones.

In 2014, 2015 & 2017, Sunny topped the ‘Most Googled Celebrity List’ in India.

Boasting over 54 million followers on Instagram, Sunny is understandably a popular star with mass appeal. Following her career as an adult entertainer, and as an actor in Television shows, Indian films and music videos, including the popular song ‘Laila’ with Shah Rukh Khan, Sunny has cemented her position as an in-demand celebrity.

Sunny has bagged several accolades including Peta’s 2016 Person of the Year mention. In 2016, she was featured in the BBC series 100 Women, which featured the world’s most high-profile and influential women from different walks of life. Sunny, a proud mother of three adorable kids, is also a “realistic investor” with several business ventures to her credit.

In 2015, she launched her first business venture – Suncity Media and Entertainment, which co-produced some of the films that featured her in a pivotal role.

Besides a cruelty-free cosmetic brand – Star Struck by Sunny Leone – which was launched in 2018, the actor launched an innerwear brand ‘Infamous by Starstruck’ in 2019 & invested with Weber in a vegan unisex athleisure brand, ‘I Am Animal’, in 2021.

Sunny, who was also a part-owner of ‘Teen Patti’, is also an author. Her book ‘Sweet Dreams’, available in digital format, includes stories about passion and play.

While detractors may continue to put Sunny’s morale down by making her feel uncomfortable and slighted about her past, she knows how to tune out the voices outside of her. The actor has grown a thick skin over the years. For Sunny, confrontation isn’t about getting into a fight with people with fists, but with her work and success.

Sunny was always clear about her journey. She identified her goals, and worked consistently.
The actor is clearly the strong individual most of us aspire to be. She is willing to combat challenges, stands up for herself and shows suspicions and fears the middle finger.

A stunning blend of self-respect, passion, courage and tact, Sunny deserves applause for her success, not shaming!

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