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Movie Review: Karenjit Kaur The Untold Story Of Sunny Leone

Karenjit Kaur The  Untold Story Of Sunny Leone

Starring Sunny Leone, Karanvir Lamba, Rysa Saujani, Raj Arjun, Grusha  Kapoor, Bijay Anand

Directed by Aditya Dutt

Rating: **(2 stars)

There  is little  here in this 10-part  series chronicling  the rise of Sunny Leone  from  porn to Bollywood, that we don’t know already. Sunny who is a beautiful articulate, clear-headed  woman in real life, has spoken about her  sleazy past many times.

Karenjit Kaur …  is more of the same, and not very well  served up, if one may add. Director Aditya Dutt is faithful to the  original story ferreting out incidents and relationships  from Sunny’s childhood and teens in Canada with ostentatious honesty.  Sunny’s  mother’s alcoholism  is  also gone into in detail, probably  because  it  serves as  a  good alibi for what Sunny chose to do with her life.

Alas, Sunny mother is  terribly played by tv actress Grusha Kapoor who stumbles, drawls and  dodders all over the  place. The  relationship with her rebellious daughter remains at  best, an over-the-top hammy version of what we saw in , say, Lady Bird recently. The response of a family to daughter who chooses to become a porn star needed  to be tackled with far more sensitivity than this  lengthy (though admittedly  never dull) series has  at its disposal.

Frequently the series hops skips  and jumps  over timelines  to create a feeling of  a life did  not choose itself. Repeatedly and perhaps expectedly the series  plays up the victim card . To her credit Sunny Leone  strikes a pretty picture standing  in postures of forlorn selfpity. She  looks pretty and is  able to pass off  as the  younger version of herself  in much of  the  saga, with ease.

However  the other  actors  just don’t seem to convey Ms Leon’s  flouncy fluency. They  fumble, they  stammer and  ham.Gosh, how  they ham! Nonetheless  the  young actor Karanvir Lamba playing Leone’s brother is  able  to convey   plenty  of  the warmth between the siblings  that lasts to this day. But the series fails to  give us an answer  to the  core moral conflict that  characterizes the Sunny Leone saga: is it  right to become a porn star  just because you need financial gratification,  lots of it?

Journalist Bhupendra Chaubey had famously asked Sunny this question in his interview with her two years ago. He was mercilessly flailed by  feminists and  other supporters of the Sunny school  of thought. Here in the  series , Chaubey’s  character, played under an  assumed name by Raj Arjun who played  the despicably sexist dad in Secret Superstar, provides  a much-needed centrality to a plot that  runs all over the place, sometimes so breathlessly that you barely get time to catch the  emotions under  the  flow of  words.

The series wears  its ‘Adult’ tag rather  selfconsciously with scenes of lovemaking and  auto-eroticism(surprisingly clumsily  conveyed  by Ms Leone) popping up once in a  while. At one point while showing the childhood version of Sunny Loene(played by Rysa Saujani)  an adversary in a karate combat is heard stating, “Lick my balls”when she would like nothing better  than to kick them.The series seems  traped between a kick and a lick. Neither  persuasive  nor ballsy  enough  to  make its point.

The way  the  “sexy”  portions  show up reminded me  of  what director Paul Schrader  says about the profanities in Sacred Games. They are used in this series as though the characters just discovered how rebellious  it sounds  rolling down their tongues.

Ironically Sunny Leone  playing Sunny Leone seems  ill at ease with  the sleaze.

Even  more ironically she  chose to disassociate  herself  from the  far more accomplished documentary  on her life entitled  Mostly Sunny which was directed by Dilip Mehta.

Why? I guess we’ll have to wait for the second interview with Mr Chaubey for an answer  to that.

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