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Sunny Leone: ‘Being able to work on films or projects that work for me is what I want’

This interview was first published in The Telegraph Online by the same author.


Anurag Kashyap’s yet-to-release neo-noir film Kennedy has made it to the 76th Cannes Film Festival and its lead actress Sunny Leone is on a high. Before leaving for the festival, Sunny talked to us about how she landed the film, working with Kashyap and her aspirations for her film career.


Tell us about the character you play in Anurag Kashyap’s Kennedy.


Sunny Leone: My character’s name in Kennedy is Charlie, and she is someone who is stuck in two different worlds. In one she is in love with someone, and in the other she is in a bad situation from which she can’t break free.


What was Anurag Kashyap’s brief to you when he offered you the film?


Sunny Leone: Anurag sir’s brief was exactly that, extremely brief. He was very secretive of this special project and the entire team was very secretive. So, the information I got was because I asked and asked and I bugged him so much. And once we started filming, I really started to understand the entire film.


What was the most challenging part of filming for Kennedy?


Sunny Leone: The most challenging part of the film was a couple of pointers that Anurag sir had given me. I had never done something like this where the character needed to be a certain way. To be open, to be put out of my comfort zone and just go for it is something that was challenging. But I loved the character I played in this film; it was so much fun.


What were your takeaways from acting opposite Rahul Bhat?


Sunny Leone: Working with Rahul Bhat was amazing. He’s really super easy-going, very laid-back, chill and very family-oriented, which is a plus for me. Because we had so much to talk about, and he’s genuinely a nice human, I hope that when the world sees this film he soars higher and higher.


What prospects on the work front are you looking forward to after Kennedy’s screening at Cannes Film Festival?


Sunny Leone: I have learnt over the years not to set expectations of what I am looking to achieve from a certain project. If you work hard and you give it your all, if you are honest about who you are and the character and the film, people see that. I really am just so happy about the idea of going to Cannes. I’m very, very emotional about it because I have worked really hard. And to earn this position, to be in this film, is something that I never imagined. But as I said, I have worked really, really hard for it. I auditioned for it. It wasn’t handed to me. And am I super excited, so I’m just going to live in the moment and absorb as much as I can.


What kind of feedback have you received on Kennedy from the screenings that have happened so far?


Sunny Leone: The feedback that I have got for the film is that they liked my look. Second, they liked the character and they were interested in the character. That has been the biggest takeaway from random people to people within the industry and other actors.


What kind of projects do you want to do in the near future?


Sunny Leone: I want to work and I want to work on projects that are fit for me. I believe that the industry is changing and I just want to be able to showcase myself in the best way possible and hope that great things will happen.


Are you seeking international projects too?


Sunny Leone: As far as international projects go, I have no expectations. If something comes on board, it will be amazing. If it doesn’t, I am okay with it. I would love the idea of being able to work on a project that is good for me. Whatever language that is in, whatever country that is in, for me, it’s just logistics. Just being able to work on films or projects that work for me is what I want.


Your journey has been a roller coaster ride. What are you most proud of?


Sunny Leone: My journey definitely is a rollercoaster. I am so proud of this moment. When Anurag sir called me and said, “Hey, I want to possibly have you in this film. But I want you to audition for it.’ At first I was like, “Okay, audition. Yes! I want to audition. Of course, I will have no problems with auditioning at all.” But at the back of my mind, I was extremely nervous and scared, and who is not scared of being rejected in front of different people that you respect in the industry?


I was really proud of myself at that moment, just giving an audition, not thinking about whether I was about to get the role or not. I think the biggest thing I am so proud of is that I consider myself a slow-moving chu-chu train that keeps moving up. I just think you have to work hard, you have to be persistent, you have to understand your goals, you have to understand your fanbase, and what is important to you and just go after it.


No matter how much negativity has come my way or has been thrown at me, my team, my family, my production or my business, it doesn’t matter. It all comes down to the small wins or the big moments. That matters the most and makes it all worth it.

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