By Shruthi Prakash:
Let us begin with a short story on the lives of many Indians, whiling away our time in front of 4.5 inch screens. We were once a nation, too proud of our treasures and our heroes, when our Western counterparts paid visits to our ‘exotic’ homeland. They robbed us off our pride, but thanks to some sexually charged men and the internet, of course, the book that makes everyone’s day (and noon and night), the Kamasutra, created an identity for our dear ‘mother’ India. This identity, is now one that is gradually moving past the tag of being a ‘taboo’.
Polyester Padmini, Cotton Kamini, Rayon Revathi, Nylon Nalini and Silk Smitha show how far Indians can go on to take their actors and alliterations seriously. But amongst the actors we’ve welcomed and stereotypically lost to a man’s hand in marriage, there remains one figure who has set the bar up high for women in Indian cinema. Sunny Leone, a revolutionary figure who continues to challenge and alter Indian ‘culture’.
She captured the Indian audience like a cyclone, and has been a wave we cannot escape, and honestly, why would you not want to be charmed by such a personality? Having begun her successful journey as an adult film actor, needless of justification, it was established that her path into the Indian mindset was a mammoth task. Having traditions and customs that are deep rooted, one can barely comprehend how a woman basing her career on an Indian taboo, succeeds. But, if anyone can thrive, I believe it is her.
Though there have been women in the past who have questioned the Indian standards of the ‘normal’ and the ‘inferior’, there are a handpicked few who can match her stature. Despite women having always been subject to objectification, and the explicit glorification of her curves and cuts, what thrills me about her is that the woman, for once, got the upper hand. She took charge and claimed her own space. Not only does she know her game, she knows how to own it. She knows how to play the ‘ball’ on her side of the court.
She brought to the forefront, the basic need – sex (and everything related) and normalised it for many, and this is a reason to rejoice. The stigma attached to adult film stars have been redefined, and the expression of pleasure, celebrated. She took to being the symbol of progress for a nation, and a boon for those struggling to express themselves on screen. Art can now breathe, almost in its entirety.
From her cutthroat interviews, ‘villas’ she has split and all the “Mastizaades” she has reached, she has retained the image of a confident woman who relied on herself to reach the top position that she rocks today. She has brought to the forefront an opportunity to enjoy a means of self-depiction, and has broken through the walls of a bedroom. She has empowered women to be proud of their bodies and celebrate the body as a unique creation and not feel guilty of the same. Virginia Woolf believed a woman needs a room of her own, but what Sunny did was go beyond just taking control of her space, she gave the much needed mental freedom for many men and women who were previously caged by the norms of the society.
This article was originally published on the author’s personal blog.