Sunny Leone: ‘It was a game changer when Anurag Kashyap cast me for ‘Kennedy’

Actor Sunny Leone talks to Indian Link prior to the red-carpet screening of her film ‘Kennedy’ at the Sydney Film Festival.

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Her last visit to Sydney was a huge controversy, just like her entry to Bollywood. Ten years later, Sunny Leone arrives in Sydney like a queen with India’s most controversial filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, for the red carpet premiere of their film Kennedy.

As she turned heads on the red carpet in her sequined blue silver gown, Sunny Leone was looking forward to this moment.

“It feels amazing that Kennedy is being screened as part of the prestigious Sydney Film Festival. I get to walk into this amazing theatre, and am excited that my film is going to be shown in such a grand way.”

There must have been butterflies in her stomach only half hour before she got here, but Sunny Leone did not show them at all at a sit-down with Indian Link. Instead, she had been gracious and forthcoming. Here are excerpts from our conversation.

Neeru Saluja with Sunny Leone
(Source: Supplied)

Your film Kennedy received a seven-minute ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, while your efforts in the character Charlie were praised. So, who is Charlie, and what sets her apart from her previous characters?

We all know someone like a Charlie. She’s hiding behind a laugh or a smile, and you never know what is going on behind this appearance. Anurag Sir sent me a few videos to (suggest the manner of) Charlie’s laughs. I rehearsed this laugh everywhere – at home, in my car, with my kids, on set – hoping to master it, which I did. Charlie is caught in two different worlds, one that she’d like to have, and one she’s actually living. When you see the film, you’ll see how she gets through this.

And what was it like living up to the expectations of a fearless filmmaker like Anurag Kashyap?

That was the scariest part (laughing). I wanted to make him proud and feel like he made the right choice casting me. We did a few workshops, and getting this laugh was important to him, the rest I left in his hands. I just wanted to meet those expectations.

Sunny Leone and Anurag Kashyap
(Source: Instagram / @anuragkashyap10)

Be it his films or bold statements, Anurag has always been termed controversial. And your own career has been no less controversial. What happens when this killer combination works together?

Kennedy happens! Once the film opens in theatres in India, we’ll see how controversial our combination will be. So far we are doing the rounds of film festivals… it’s very different when you are showing your film on an international level. When we start doing the interviews in India, and press conferences and media previews of the film, how they are going to react, I don’t know, ask me then!

It’s looking already though that Kennedy could go on to be a game changer for you.

Yes, it already is. It was a game changer when Anurag thought I’d be good for this film, and we started filming. That changed everything. The greatest compliments I got before we went to Cannes were from random people who saw Kennedy and praised my performance.

Sunny Leone
(Source: Instagram / @sunnyleone)

Besides being an actor, you’re also an entrepreneur, a writer, a DJ and a mum to three beautiful kids. What advice would you give to mums who are doing the balancing act?

Once you are a mother your goals are very different. Every mother has their own parenting style also. There may be a mother out there who works daily 9-5 and all of a sudden feels her calling is to be with her child at this moment, and take that time out to be home. So, if you’re someone who’s juggling your work life, children and your personal life, scheduling is very important. Also, it’s going to be just fine. It’s a difficult and frustrating journey but it’s also rewarding. I tell my kids all the time I’m a better mother working than not working. I want them to grow up seeing their parents working and realising the value of hard work.

Hard work is something that has never stopped you from moving forward. You made a drastic career change, when you moved to India and to enter the film industry.

Bigg Boss brought me to India. I didn’t think I was going to have the career that I’ve had these last ten years. I didn’t plan this change. It just happened. I thank God all the time I had the opportunity to be there and fulfil my dream.

Despite all the obstacles, what keeps you fighting back again and again?

At the end of the day, I just want to work. I love my job and I love cinema. I just want to keep working. And no one should have the right to tell me that I can or cannot. It should be my own limitations that dictate what I can do. It’s about pushing forward, no matter what.

Watch as we learnt more about Sunny Leone in 60 seconds!


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Neeru Saluja
Neeru Saluja
Neeru Saluja is a freelance films and arts writer with 20 years of experience. Specialising in Bollywood celebrity interviews, she has also covered music concerts, comedy shows, plays and interviewed artists for the Sydney Film festival, the Indian Film festival in Melbourne, WOMADelaide, AACTA and the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

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