In 2012, adult film star Sunny Leone made a quantum leap into mainstream Bollywood with a lead role in the hit film Jism 2. India was quickly fascinated – she has been the most Googled Indian celebrity for two years running – but perhaps slower to admit to it. Four years and less than 10 films later, Sunny spoke in length to Shekhar Gupta on Walk The Talk about what it's been like for her in Bollywood.
When she started out here, an appearance on reality show Bigg Boss preceding her being cast in the Pooja Bhatt-made Jism 2, the film industry didn't quite know what to make of her. Sunny, 34, was kept at arm's length for the longest time, with Bollywood – particularly its female stars – warming up to her only recently.
"The women in Bollywood I've noticed, in the last six months, through responses in social media, and people are more willing to say hello. But at first, definitely I felt like the elephant in the room. People stare but don't want to say hi," she told Shekhar Gupta.
Almost nobody wanted to be seen with her at first. "I remember one of the first award shows that I went to, they wanted to put me on stage with another woman, or any actor, and they all said no. And someone really nice ended up saying yes, so it was a lot more open minded (of them) I guess. But it was a weird moment, to feel that people are so against you or they are scared of you or whatever is going on in their mind," Sunny said.