as Sunny Leone lost her magic? – Even before Sunny Leone made her Bollywood debut with Jism 2 in 2012, she was already popular. But with the adult film star all set to appear on the big screen, there was a palpable excitement among the Indian audience.
Realising how popular she was, filmmakers queued up outside Sunny’s rented flat in Mumbai offering her unheard of sums to star in their movies. Five years later, it seems the actress, who is still the most-searched Indian celebrity online, has lost her magic touch. She has starred in nine films till now, out of which seven have been complete non-starters.
Producers have lost an enormous amount of money and her latest film Tera Intezaar seems to be a damp squib, too. This is the fifth Sunny-starrer that has met with a lukewarm response. The film opened to a dismal Rs 40 lakh and there was hardly any growth over the weekend, the first three-day total being Rs 1.35 crore only, which is around one-third of the opening day of her earlier film Ek Paheli Leela.
Trade analyst Komal Nahta explains, “Tera Intezaar will lose almost all its investment. It will finish at a lifetime of Rs 2-3 crore, which means the total loss for the makers would be Rs 12-13 crore, which is almost 90 per cent of their budget.”
So, what’s going wrong with Sunny’s films? Why isn’t she able to pull the crowd to theatres anymore? A producer, a director, and a trade analyst tell us what they think of the current situation.
There’s a sense of fatigue: Ahmed Khan
Ahmed Khan was the producer of Ek Paheli Leela that collected around `19 crore at the box office. Since then, Sunny’s films (except Mastizaade) have struggled to cross the `10 crore mark in its lifetime. Ask Ahmed and he explains, “Sunny is beautiful and she fits the requirements of the audience. The only problem, as I see it, is that there’s a time for everything. Ek waqt hota hai jab sab chalta hai, phir woh nahi chalta. She’s done nine films, but Leela was the last one that opened well because the treatment was different. Sunny has what it takes but I believe there’s a sense of fatigue that has come in with her films.”
Ahmed also has a simple word of advice for Sunny. “She should just hold on for some time now. She should not do everything that comes her way,” he says. But as a producer, will he back another film featuring the actress? Pat comes the response, “She is a thorough professional and I have no regrets working with her. If things come my way, I’ll definitely collaborate with her. Even if I want to make a Leela 2, there will be an oomph factor about Sunny because of the treatment and promotions. There will definitely be a crunch in the expenditure but all of it depends on the project.”
Sunny is stuck in an image: Milap Zaveri
Milap directed Sunny last year in Mastizaade, which bombed at the box office. People expected that the sex comedy featuring the actress would set the cash registers ringing. But that didn’t happen. Milap takes the blame on himself. “I obviously must not have made a good enough film which is why it didn’t work. Because of her popularity and image, I also ended up typecasting her, which was wrong,” he admits.
However, he adds, “Right now, Sunny should try and do something more dramatic, emotional or maybe even a thriller as today audiences have learnt to separate the star from the film. Every actor goes through a phase of highs and lows. She is a professional and very committed to whatever she does. Eventually, an actor can only do so much to the film. If the films that are being made with her are not living up to the mark, then you can’t blame her for it.”
Prod him about all of Sunny’s films suffering the same fate at the box office and he asserts, “She’s stuck in an image where she keeps getting offered the same kind of films. When she does a song like Laila Main Laila in Raees, it becomes a rage and pumps up the excitement for the film. She still enjoys an immense fan following and people do want to see her. But the content is not working for her right now. People need to give her a chance to do something different.”
TRADE ANALYST SPEAKS
Unfair to blame Sunny completely: Komal Nahta
Trade analyst Komal Nahta has a different take on the issue. He tells us, “It’s unfair to blame an actress completely for a film’s failure. So, it would be wrong to put the whole responsibility solely on her. We have to understand that Hindi films still run on a hero’s star power. Sunny is just signing the wrong films, which don’t have any meaning for the audience. It’s the film, the content and the director who should be blamed first.”
Having said that, he believes that the actress should take a step back and analyse what’s going wrong. “She needs someone to help and guide her while choosing her films. She has still not reached the stage where producers won’t invest money on her. So, she still has time and should be judicious about her choice from now on.” There’s also a huge debate about how there has been an overexposure of Sunny, thanks to her several item numbers and cameos in films along with her own movies. But Komal disagrees, “There’s a huge difference between an item number and a proper role. That can’t be the conclusion to this topic.”
Lifetime collections of Sunny’s films (net gross)
Jism 2 (2012): Rs 35.19 crore (semi-hit)Jackpot (2013): Rs 4.37 crore (disaster)Ragini MMS 2 (2014): Rs 46.56 crore (hit)Ek Paheli Leela (2015): Rs 18.51 crore (flop)Kuch Kuch Locha Hai (2015): Rs 2.64 crore (disaster)Mastizaade (2016): Rs 17.71 crore (flop)One Night Stand (2016): Rs 3.45 crore (disaster)Beiimaan Love (2016): Rs 2.23 crore (disaster)Tera Intezaar (2017): Rs 1.35 crore*(currently running)(Figures: boxofficeindia.com)