Last year at the Vancouver International Film Festival, I had the displeasure of checking out the latest film from acclaimed Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta, the woefully misguided and lazily made Beeba Boys. The film was such a u-turn for the celebrated filmmaker, like she wanted to make her own cultural Scarface: something out of her realm. Now, with her brother Dilip co-writing and directing, the Mehtas are bringing an incredible human story documentary to the screen that is thought provoking, both in a cultural sense and in the deepness of human drama. It also ends up raising a very interesting question: for all the overpopulation of India, why is sex such a taboo subject for them? People are obviously having it.
Mostly Sunny tells the story of adult film star turned Bollywood actress, Sunny Leone. Born in Sarnia, Ontario as Karenjit Kaur Vohra to traditional Sikh parents, she turned her family’s world, both close and extended, upside down when she decided that she wanted to be a Penthouse model and later a porn star. Ostracized by her family and a large majority of her people, Sunny never let these issues complicate her life and grew to be one of the most sought porn stars in the world. From there, through a serendipitous offer, Sunny would travel to India to make her stamp on the Bollywood industry.
Mostly Sunny is a fascinating character study of a strong willed and fortuitous woman who didn’t let anything get in her way. In the process of gravitating towards fame, she would end up making serious damages to her family life, even estranging herself from her own parents, only reconnecting with them shortly before their deaths. With an existence that proclaims a “no regrets” lifestyle, we can see that this strained relationship still weighs heavily on her to this very day. The effects of her life decisions against the backdrop of Sunny visiting her childhood city is an incredibly compelling combination.
Sunny Leone, from all appearances, goes against the grain of your stereotypical porn star. She kept her younger brother very close to her (they both bought places in Los Angeles), making sure the only family she had left speaking to her was nearby. She also opted to do most of her adult film scenes with her husband, Daniel Weber, something that really isn’t the norm in that industry. Dilip Mehta brings an unbiased look at a prominent person in Indian culture, whether they’d like to admit it or not, and manages to humanize her in a way that’s both respectful, informative and maybe a bit intrusive at times. The end result is something that I believe the filmmakers can look at as a well-lit spotlight on a story worth telling and the subject can be proud to get her unfiltered story out and maybe experience some catharsis in the process. A solid documentary for lovers of the genre to check out. 4/5