Sunny Leone Gracefully Defiant in Porn Shaming CNN-IBN Interview

Jan 20, 2016 10:02 AM PST

MUMBAI — Former adult star Sunny Leone, whose upcoming Bollywood sex comedy "Mastizaade" barely survived India's censorship board, remained dignified and unapologetic in the face of scathing questions from news anchor Bhupendra Chaubey on CNN-IBN's talk show "The Hot Seat."  

Rather than exploring Leone's role in "Mastizaade," which releases on Jan. 29, or talking about her other mainstream Bollywood achievements, Chaubey subjected Leone to a televised inquisition about her earlier career as a porn actress.

The 30-minute interview first aired on Jan. 15, during which Chaubey became visibly exasperated as Leone refused time and time again to express regret about her decision to star in adult films. Chaubey was relentless in his crusade for a confession, for some inkling of contrition from Leone, asking her the same question in multiple guises:

"Do you not sometimes get affected that your past, the past that you were a ‘porn queen’, will continue to haunt you? Or maybe it will continue to pull you back?" 

"I wonder, and pardon me if I am being offensive here, how many people would think in terms of growing up to be a porn star?" 

"You would still do the kind of shoots, the kind of work you used to do, before you came into Bollywood?"

"Is your past now literally, figuratively a thing of the past now? Is that something that you think about? I began by asking you if you had any regrets, and you spoke about your mother, and if I was to turn the clock back, would you still do what you did?"

"Atul Anjan, who happens to be a member of parliament of the CPI, has consistently gone on record, and mind you, he is not the only one, the way he holds you responsible for corrupting Indian minds, Indian morality. When these kinds of comments are made, how do you react?"

“There are some viewers of mine who are saying that your identity remains that of your past, which is your association with pornography, and porn stuff. They believe that you are not an actor, still not an actor, some are accusing you of lowering the level of the fine art of cinema. Is that a just criticism?”

“A lot of 'chatterati' that takes place, you see a Sunny Leone film, and you get morally corrupted. I am wondering whether I am getting morally corrupted because I am interviewing you.”

On and on, the litany of barbed questions and insults went. Yet, with rarified grace, Leone prevailed. Her reasoned responses danced elegantly and deftly through the mudslinging, as she emerged unstained.

"Everything that I have done in my life has led me to this seat," Leone said. "Everything is a stepping stone… I met an agent, and when I saw these photos of these women, I didn’t think it is vulgar. I didn’t think it is wrong. I thought it was beautiful and sexy. They are free, and they are doing what they want to do."

After the interview, she was showered with an outpouring of support on social media, while Chaubey was publicly decried and ridiculed for his unprofessional witchhunt. Leone expressed gratitude for the positive response in a Facebook video viewed over 1 million times.

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