I’m sipping tea in Sunny Leone’s swanky office in Juhu. She’s buzzing around finishing her many commitments. Her husband Daniel Weber, who doubles up as her manager, tells her that it’s time for our interview. She waltzes in like sunshine and instantly warms up the room with her bright smile. “It’s been five days since we’ve shifted to this office and I haven’t even turned the television on,” she complains about being so consumed in setting up her new zone. A big hug later, she settles on the chair facing me. She’s wearing a simple pink shirt over a blue top paired with denims. With minimal make-up, she looks way younger than her years. I tell her that and she smiles a bit more… As we chat I discover her other self, the lesser known Karenjit Kaur Vohra…
Talk a little about your childhood. How were you as a kid?
I was born in Canada. I was a tomboy and used to play a lot of sports.
What was your family like?
It was a typical Punjabi household where we ate desi khana every day of the week. We used to visit the Gurdwara every Sunday. Ours was a closely-knit and loving family.
A close friend…
My best friend was Sheila. She was the closest to me while growing up.
Which Hindi film actor did you have a crush on?
What would you dub as the turning point in your life?
The moment I decided to come to India to be on Bigg Boss Season 5.
If you could time travel, which era and city would you like to visit?
Los Angeles in the ’50s because of the clothes, cars and etiquette.
Describe Sunny Leone in one line.
A workaholic, who believes in being a compassionate human being.
Which are the three top songs in your current playlist?
Into you (Ariana Grande), Work (Rihanna) and Cheap Thrills (Sia).
Your pet peeve…
People who turn up late and my feet being dirty.
Your comfort food…
Which reality show you believe you would definitely win?
Cake Wars or Cupcake Wars (Food Network). It would be nice to be in a show that involves cupcakes and then I can eat them too. I love cakes. I’m a good cook. I love baking.
If you could possess one superpower, which one would it be?
Flying! I’d like to fly off wherever I want.
Five things you can’t live without…
My husband, my brother, my dogs, my phone and my skin care regime.
Five things you’d carry with yourself to a deserted island.
A knife, a lighter, a jacket, a generator run on solar power and my iPad. (Laughs) Oh, and my husband… does that count? He’s my most precious thing.
If a genie grants you three wishes, what would you ask for?
My family to remain happy and safe forever. That cruelty to animals be abolished. The ability to eat as much pizza and ice-cream as I want to, without getting fat.
What’s your personal style like?
It’s simple. I wear what I feel like wearing at that point.
What’s that one fashion trend you wouldn’t be caught dead in?
If you win a lottery ticket that brings you $10 million what would you do?
Ah! First I’d buy a Bentley coupe and maybe a beautiful house in the south of France. After buying the house, the $10 million would run out… so back to work!
Your 4 am friend?
An Oscar-winning film you wish you were part of…
Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl.
If you could insure a body part which one would it be?
If you’re stuck in the elevator and forced to listen to a song, which one would it be?
Don’t Worry Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin).
What was the last gift you received?
I got a doughnut from my sister-in-law.
What does unconditional love mean to you?
Respect and being there for each other unconditionally through good times and bad.
Does media scrutiny makes it difficult for relationships to sustain in the industry?
Not if you’re in a secure relationship. If you’re a star, you get a lot of attention. The person you’re with needs to be secure. (Laughs) It’s cute when Daniel gets hit upon by girls. I find it awesome.
Aren’t there moments of insecurity ever?
There’s a difference between healthy jealousy and insecurity.
Guys of all ages hit on you. How does Daniel handle it?
I’m sure he has had moments when he felt insecure. Even if he did feel like that I’d be like ‘are you serious? What are you thinking?’ It turns into one of those conversations. We’re best friends. We talk all day long. Jealousy is never an issue between us. Even if it is, we voice it out and get it out there. More than anything, it’s about respect. I respect him. and he respects me. I’d never do anything to hurt him. Above all, my husband is so good-looking. It’s hard to find someone better than him.
Do you remember the first time you met Daniel?
Yes, I do. It was in 2008 in Las Vegas through one of Daniel’s band mates. It was a simple exchange of hellos. He didn’t talk much. I thought ‘wow this guy doesn’t talk much.’ I left that night and he showed up the next day. (Smiles) Daniel tells me that for him it was love at first sight.
And for you?
He lived in New York and I in Los Angeles. So I thought our relationship wouldn’t go anywhere. He had to work hard for it. I’d be sitting with people and a random person would give me a dozen roses or a box of chocolates. I’d go home and see a bouquet of flowers waiting for me. He courted me like that for six weeks!
So you finally relented?
We had mutual friends who convinced me to go on a date with him. I thought I’d go for dinner and forget about it. But then the complete opposite happened. We found that we were similar in our family values, in the way we’ve been raised. His mother is from Israel and father from Romania. The Jewish culture is similar to our Indian culture. Their family units are also as close and loving. I found the similar attitudes beautiful. We spent three hours in that restaurant talking. The restaurant just disappeared around us. We didn’t order food; we just ended up drinking wine and talking.
What’s your equation with Daniel’s family?
I’m so lucky to have such in-laws. They’re the nicest and sweetest people. I’ve lost my parents so Daniel’s parents fill that void. They’re so caring.
When did you guys finally decide to get married?
He made me wait for three years… that’s a long time in a girl’s world, when you both know that you want to get married to each other.
How did he propose?
I was looking for a jewellery box. By the way, no man had ever bought me jewellery before. Daniel was the first one. He got me this lovely mahogany jewellery box. But the ring was in his pocket. We were at home. It was nice and quiet with just our dogs and us. That’s when he proposed. It was cute.
Did he go down on his knees?
(Bursts out laughing) No, we were in bed.
What’s your idea of a perfect evening?
Dinner… good food, good wine and good conversation.
Should men always foot the bill during a date?
No, they shouldn’t. But after being with Daniel I learnt what it feels for a woman to be pampered by her man. Before that, I didn’t have anyone like that in my life. It was always like, ‘okay I’ll pay half, you pay half.’ I had no issues doing it but Daniel has till date never let me pay the bill ever. He feels insulted if I pay. His father is like that and he has learnt that from him. His father worships his wife. Daniel too has learnt to be a perfect gentleman. I’m lucky to have these two men in my life who know how to treat a woman.
What is that one thing that you find special about Daniel?
He’s supportive, loving and caring. It was the first time someone wanted to take care of me. I’m not talking financially. I mean emotionally. When my mother died in 2008, he didn’t run away. He was there when I was crying and upset. He was the one who was there with me at probably the worst time of my life. I lost my father soon after that. Daniel is strong-willed, generous… I could go on…
What’s a deal breaker for you in a relationship?
Someone who doesn’t love his family.
You get so much attention from men. How do you deal with it?
It has been a long time since I’ve been hit on. Usually, I can’t tell if someone is hitting on me. Even when I was single my reaction used to depend on the guy… on how cute he was. I remember once a teenager hit on me in the US. It was sweet. I’ve never been mean to anyone. I told him it’s charming but I’m not interested.
Five things we don’t know about Sunny Leone…
I love my family, my dogs. I’m very sensitive. I feel emotionally responsible for other people’s happiness. I’d do anything for a friend.
If you were to write your autobiography, what would you name it?
What’s the biggest lesson life has taught you?
Family comes first.
What’s your mantra for success?
Just keep working. Be professional and always have a smile on your face.
What’s your biggest regret in life?
Not getting home fast enough when my mother was sick and dying.
If heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly gates?
“What are you standing there for? Your parents are waiting for you. Hurry up and go see them.”
What song would you wish to be played at your funeral?
Shake it off by Taylor Swift.