The mention of Sunny Leone as the leading lady in a film still piques the curiosities of millions of Indians. And it would perhaps not be wrong to assume that it’s her sensuality that plays a substantial part in getting viewers interested in watching her movies.
However, a recent trend suggests that Leone’s sex appeal may no longer draw the audiences into watching a full-length feature film starring her. At least not just her sex appeal.
From last year's Ek Paheli Leela (2015) and Kuch Kuch Locha Hai (2015) to this year's Mastizaade and the more recent One Night Stand, all of which were largely marketed with Brand Sunny Leone as their USPs, have performed abysmally at the box-office.
A still from 'Mastizaade'
When HuffPost India met her for an interview before the launch of the ninth season of the reality show Splitsvilla (a show she is currently hosting for MTV India), the actress seemed genuinely concerned about her ability to draw in audiences but couldn't quite pin-point what precisely was going wrong.
She said, “You know, I don’t have a mentor in Bollywood. I just go by my gut feeling about scripts that I like. Some movies are going to work and then there are going to be some that won’t work.”
Sunny added that she doesn't really have a solution to it. “I really have no idea what the audience is liking and that perhaps is part of the problem.”
She also said that it wasn’t just her alone whose movies had bombed at the box-office, but a larger problem plaguing Bollywood.
She said, “If you look at the last 10 movies [that have released], how many of them have actually made money? What’s the percentage of that? It’s an industry where the success ratio is pretty less, 20 per cent or 30 per cent at best. So what does an actor do? We can’t stop making movies and stop following our dreams and passions because there is a shift in the taste of the audiences, can we?”
A still from 'One Night Stand'
When I point out that the films that she’s chosen have consistently been crass adult comedies that were slammed by critics and perhaps a change in her selection of films could make a difference, she said, “You’re forgetting One Night Stand.”
The film, while dwelled on the relevant theme of gender-based stereotypes, was still marketed as a sex-fuelled drama. It wasn't panned by the critics as savagely as some of her other films have been, but nevertheless failed to set the box-office on fire.
“For me, my goal with One Night Stand was accomplished as I reached out to different people and different critics, many who would ordinarily slam most of my past films. People who’ve never said nice about me wrote something positive,” she said, sounding somewhat defensive.
Leone revealed that she keeps a close watch on journalists who write about her, especially when it isn’t a favorable copy. “I keep a tab on people who write negative things about me — and then I quickly nix them off my list.”
She added, “if you don’t have like one nice thing to say about a movie, you should probably take a break from watching movies for a month or so and then come back.”
Or, y'know, perhaps she could start choosing better scripts?
“That’s really your perspective. I beg to differ.”
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