Sunny Leone, former adult film star and now a successful Bollywood actor, was the most searched item on Google from India in 2015.
She has a wide fan following in India – a country which preaches sanskar (virtue) and chastity to the rest of the world. Millions of Indian fans are drawn to her movies, and porn clips, mostly hidden in password protected drives and secret folders.
Many ‘members-only‘ WhatsApp groups circulate her ‘work’ among drooling fans & pseudo-intellectuals. Most of the subscribers are married men, many with children her age.
How do I know? Well, I was part of one such WhatsApp group, “Husn ke Pujari“, till my teenage children chanced upon it and told me “Papa, grow up”. Our group even considered inviting her for a course reunion but we simply couldn’t afford her on our ‘defence budget’. Many rich, sanskari Indian familes were willing to pay more than us to have her over for their private parties.
No, I haven’t worn the chastity belt or taken sanyas yet. I only purged some (delectable) distractions so I could get on with real life.
So when the SGPC took umbrage to her new biopic series ‘Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story of Sunny Leone‘ because it brought disrepute to the surname ‘Kaur’ and “hurt Sikh sentiments”, my eyes rolled in disbelief!
What sentiments?? Belonging to which part of the anatomy?
Today it is Sunny. Few years ago, a similar malicious campaign launched against world-renowned artist MF Hussain made him flee to Dubai, never to return. Then it was his flourishes with brush and colour that rubbed somebody’s religious sensibilities the wrong way. Sunny uses other props, albeit with the same arousal effect, for her audience. “Here’s a woman, doing what she wants with her life and her body; consensually and not forcing her point of view on anyone else. She can’t outrage your modesty if you don’t participate”, a young, progressive Indian woman told me. Can you disagree with that?
Turns out, that ‘somebody’ is us. The same stupid, misguided, hypocritical, bigoted Indian who can be led astray by pied-pipers who have appointed themselves custodians of our culture and conscience. Who gave them that right?
In Mumbai where I live, many young families push their children into painting & sketching classes with the hope that they become the next MF Hussain or Sayed Raza. And when their role models paint from the heart, we banish them to foreign shores. What sense does that make?
People buy 1TB flash drives to stow away their Sunny Leones and Stormy Daniels, but don’t utter a word when law-abiding citizens are unfairly targeted by fringe elements or lynched by mobs. We rush cows to the hospital while leaving bleeding and half-dead people on the road (read it here).
These fringe elements and self-proclaimed (pseudo) nationalists have taken it upon themselves to protect our ‘sanskar‘, which they have themselves discarded in their lust for power and vote banks. How else do you explain this sudden upsurge of pseudo-nationalism and ‘sensibility’ in this nation where children as young as two are raped and brutalized?
Haryana’s khap panchayats summarily issue ‘death sentence’ for many young couples. Their fault? They fell in love outside their social hierarchy. In our new order, perhaps love needs pre-verification with Aadhar and OTP. Haryana, like Kerala, has a dark underbelly of incest no khap or panchayat wants to acknowledge, because it’s ‘andar ki baat’ (within family) and will affect family pride. How to make sense of this?
After the initial outrage and copious crocodile tears, in ‘God’s Own Country’ Kerala (that boasts of 100% literacy), an actor who allegedly organised the rape of a female colleague is back in the game. And how? The association that disowned him in the immediate aftermath of the incident (ironic, but called ”AMMA‘, an acronym that literally translates to ‘mother’ in Malayalam, the state’s dialect) welcomed him back into their fold because he pulls in millions with his misogynistic charades on the silver screen. Talk about chastity.
As per a report in The Times of India (24 Jul 18), Bihar police investigating the sexual exploitation of minor inmates at a government-run shelter home in Muzaffarpur district found that 29 out of 44 inmates in that ‘shelter’ were raped. One girl was beaten to death and buried within the campus by the shelter home employees. Where were the custodians of Indian chastity then?
Closer to the SGPC’s home turf, in Panchkula, more than 70 people were ‘invited’ through WhatsApp messages to a guest house to have sex with a 21-year old woman. And boy, did they come! More irony. The alleged ringleader and guest house owner running the racket went by the name ‘Sunny’. What will happen to him or the case is anybody’s guess. Inside the turban or mundu, much sickness remains hidden while we continue to target the wrong ’causes’.
So much for hurting Sikh sensibilities. I want to tell all those who do moral policing something. Shed those robes of misplaced chastity. Like the emperor’s new clothes, it covers nothing. And the same goes for other self-appointed gatekeepers of our religious beliefs like the Travancore Devaswom Board. You let your own community savage the vulnerable while training your misguided turrets on the wrong targets. Go read your holy books and let me read my Playboy. Oh, wait…even that’s gone now; but I have a collector’s copy like many self-respecting Indians of my age.
Let’s get this right. Sordid as it may sound to you, Karenjit Kaur a.k.a Sunny Leone is just another individual trying to earn her bread through hard work. She hasn’t raped, plundered, killed, or maimed; at least not yet. Everyone has a right to earn his or her livelihood in this country, keeping on the right side of the law. If you have an insecurity complex about your spouse, religion, surname, children whatever, up your game. Her silence says ‘up yours’. And she’s done much better than you so far. With fewer words.
Improve the rule of law by nailing the actual crooks – those that rape, abuse or torment their own; those who violate children; those who plunder our nation’s wealth and then escape abroad thumbing their nose at Mother India.
Karenjit Kaur returned to India; to her origins. She brought her stardom along, even if it was unconventional. She could have stayed back in Canada, US or wherever. She didn’t flee. She deserves her fans, not bans. And yes, if that matters to you, she has a happy family with a loving husband and three sweet children who stand by her. The same can’t be said for many in office who propagate vicious hate campaigns and garland lynch mobs to cement their place in government.
You want to punish her? It’s really very simple. Just delete those files, format those drives and stop feeding the roaches in your washroom. Soon, misguided organisations and fringe elements will hunt for other causes.
If we add more fuel to such malicious campaigns, a banana republic will stand where an edifice of tolerance & acceptance once stood. Do you wish that to happen?
©KP Sanjeev Kumar, 2018. All rights reserved. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views are personal.