Sunny Leone - 1, Bhupendra Chaubey - 0 is how the internet would put it. The former porn star who is now a Bollywood actress won the hearts of Indian netizens yet again.
Indian social media rallied behind Leone after she faced "sexist" questions during an interview by Chaubey. The interview, aired on the Indian television channel CNN-IBN which is owned by the billionaire Mukesh Ambani, caused a lot of stir for the tenor of the questions posed by Chaubey.
Leone – the most Googled person consecutively for four years –was promoting her upcoming adult comedy film, Mastizaade, when her showdown with a veteran journalist – who has since been dubbed a "chauvinist pig" – began. Little would have Chaubey expected before the now-infamous interview that he would be disparaged by all corners of the internet.
Leone, the Canadian-born former porn star whose parents are Punjabi, was confronted with some tough questions from Chaubey, who is facing the heat for his appropriately-titled programme The Hot Seat.
The Indian-origin Leone, whose original name is Karenjit Kaur Vohra, shot to fame after her appearance in Bigg Boss – the Indian version of Big Brother – four years ago. The inevitability of Bollywood embraced her quite instantly and she has since become a household name in deeply conservative India. She quit performing in adult movies in 2013.
Amid a series of interviews and promotions in primetime news channels, Leone took the "hot seat" only to face Chaubey's questions, which have been labelled "patronising", "sexist", "rude", and "misogynistic".
Here are some questions Chaubey shot at Leone:
- Do you not get affected by the fact that your past, as a "porn queen", will continue to haunt you or hold you back?
- Some people are wondering whether Sunny Leone becoming a brand ambassador is a dangerous thing for India.
- On social media, many Indian married women who look at Sunny Leone as a threat and think she'll take away their husbands. You don't care about all this?
- I'm wondering, whether I'm being morally corrupted because I'm speaking to you... Do you believe that your body will ultimately take you everywhere?
Chaubey's combative tone and line of questioning were pilloried by the who's who of Indian social media despite his clarification, which was issued shortly after the criticisms began to mount.
Chaubey wrote in his blog: "I simply did the job of asking questions, yes which were perhaps moral in nature. But isn't that also the story? I did mention this multiple times in the course of the interview that Indians were a bunch of hyper, hypocritical people."
But this did not attract any mercy from Twitter. On the contrary, Leone earned a lot of praise for keeping her cool during the entire interview and taking it on the chin.