“Kaur” in Punjabi stands for Princess. Well Sunny Leone did turn her life from rags to riches. She afforded herself a Princess lifestyle. But the identity she adopted to get there,as it is said in the trailer, “Yeh voh hai, jo ek Bhartiya Nari ko nahi hona chahiye” forms the centre of controversies. Hence, we get the real life story of Karenjit Kaur a.k.a. Sunny Leone in this web series released on zee5 originals.
Directed by Aditya Datt, the story starts off with an interview of Sunny, being taken by Anupam Chaubey. This is in refrence to the infamous interview which was held in 2016 by Bhupendra Chaubey. He questions her quite out rightly about her choices and with complete and utter sense of being judgemental. But she too replies with complete confidence as she starts revealing her story unabashedly right from childhood. Sunny was born to a Punjabi family residing in Canada who were extremely conservative inspite of living in the first world country. She has a younger brother who’s pet name is Sunny whereas she herself was referred to as Gogu. She was bullied in her teenage years, at school and her family underwent a financial crisis. Her father lost his job due to which they had to move to L.A. and live with her father’s sister for some time until he found himself a new job. The aunt was a woman who did not leave any chance of demeaning their family with her sarcasm. She was wealthy and would show off her gold and Diamonds to Sunny’s mother.
Ultimately her father found himself a job and they shifted into a new home. Sunny right from the beginning was taught to be independent. So she earned herself her first dress which is shown in the first episode. She knew the pride of earning her own money. At one point when she wishes to help her father out financially by taking up a modelling contract, he tells her how he does not require her money. If she wants to earn, she should do it entirely for herself.The father is the anchor of the ship trying to save his family and not let his children feel the crisis. The mother is a typical Punjabi mom who is offended by Sunny’s short clothes and scared when her brother offers knowledge on drugs even though the brother clarifies he’s not into any of that business. But apart from that, she is an alcoholic too; something which doesn’t remain a secret from the kids for too long. The story flashes events from different time periods : 1994 Canada, 1999 L.A., 2016 Mumbai and even 1981.
At times, it does become slightly confusing as to which year is going on, but the family situation depicted at that time and the clothing help the audience to figure out the timeline. Sunny wins her first beauty pageant which helps her land contracts through a person who feels she is the girl with a “body and face” that will bring her a lot of fame. Well, it does. One after the other she lands up with modelling assignments and soon you know she is “Penthouse Pet of The Year”.
By now Sunny has moved out of her parent’s place and joined college. She helps her family financially and they are extremely proud of their daughter being so successful and independent. They aren’t aware what sort of shoots she is doing and know that she works with a financial firm, which is something she actually does. Though modelling assignments are what fetch the hefty amounts. She even buys her mom bangles which the mother proudly shows off to the aunt at a family gathering. But guilt eats Sunny up and soon she reveals the truth. The story also shows how Sunny met the love of her life Daniel Webber further on. Since only 10 episodes have come out, the entire story isn’t out yet.
If everything is revealed here; there’ll be nothing left to watch. So I’ll avoid spoilers and come down to a general overview of this web series. Firstly, this series isn’t released to justify or prove right from wrong. It is what it is; A story of an Indian girl who turns from a Porn star to a Bollywood star. It’s not an everyday story and being the most googled Indian, it had to be told. But let’s end the debate of justifying her actions or demeaning them before it even begins. It is simply a tale of true events. Her choices could have been different, but they aren’t. She has no regrets about it, so who are we to judge?Coming to the characters, the father is the rock who supports his children and the mother showers them with love. But if you expect to incorporate entirely Indian values in your children when they live in America and have a completely different atmosphere contradicting your system of beliefs; they are bound to rebel at times. In America, kids don’t stay with their parents after 18. So they have to earn their living or else bear the shame of being dependent on their parents.
Thing is, Sunny started on a subtle note but once the clothes started coming off, there was no going back. She could have stopped of course, but she didn’t. She liked the money, and so she went ahead. She made her choices and became independent. But she accepts outright, she was never forced by individuals or situations to choose her path. She did it willingly; it’s just going down that lane is not something common in India. In America comparatively, the industry was thriving at that time. She wasn’t forced but definitely influenced by situations to go down that lane. Her brother supported her throughout though. At times you might question the brother’s stand on this thing. The two were close, he could have helped her choose differently, but he didn’t. But he didn’t leave her either, he was always there for her and that sort of love is rare to see.
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Sunny was Naïve when she started shooting for Penthouse, but she was ambitious as hell. It takes nerves of steel to do what she did. Every decision she has taken and every choice she has made, demands guts. Her choices may not be looked upon in a bright light, but those are her choices. She accepts them and the series is not a justification of her actions but neither is it a portrayal of regret towards her decisions. We as humans are our experiences, mistakes and achievements. But what we are as people should not be judged by what profession we choose to pursue. She is a former porn star and that does not mean she is a bad person. She deserves the same amount of respect as any other woman does. Or else, before questioning her character, we tend to bring a question mark to ours.
Overall, the series is well written and it is a one time watch. It is an entertaining and realistic view of events that went down in the life of a name which entered the Bollywood industry with quite a lot of drama following behind. If there is one thing I liked about Sunny Leone, it is this – she accepts herself and all her choices unabashedly. She owns who she is with pride. After all, if you don’t accept yourself, why would anyone else?