Sunny Leone is one of the most famous people Sarnia has ever produced but she got the cold shoulder after returning to her hometown, according to a documentary that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
‘Mostly Sunny’ tells Leone’s story from growing up in Sarnia to her career in adult films and her unlikely transformation into Bollywood actress and household name in India.
Toronto-based director Dilip Mehta sent a film crew to town to document her early years, but the interaction between the crew and Sikh temple at which Leone once worshipped soured quickly.
“India has seemingly had fewer qualms about accepting Sunny than has the Indian community in her Ontario hometown, which remains scandalized by her unconventional life choices,” wrote reviewer Steve Gravestock.
According to the Sakshi Post, the final scenes were shot in Sarnia late last year with Leone acting as a guide to her childhood landmarks.
Management at the Gurdwara called police after the film crew arrived, and friends and relatives of Leone refused to be interviewed because of her association with the adult film industry, according to The Indian newspaper.
The Journal contacted the Sarnia Gurdwara and a woman there confirmed a film company had tried to make contact, but temple members didn’t wish to discuss anything outside of their religion.
“The temple does not wish to be involved. That is the main congregation’s opinion, and I’m just expressing that,” said the woman, who added very few of its members have any personal knowledge of Leone.
Karenjit (Karen) Kaur Vohra, as she was known, was born in Sarnia and attended Catholic school here. A self-described tomboy, she was athletic as a youth and known to play street hockey with the boys.
She moved to the U.S. with her parents as a teenager and eventually entered the California adult-film industry. In 2003 she was Penthouse magazine’s Pet of the Year.
That background, however, hasn’t hindered her rise to Bollywood cinema stardom. She has appeared in 14 mainstream films since 2012 and the past four years running has been the most Googled person in India, a country of 1.3 billion people.
Leone, 35, and her husband and business manager Daniel Weber split their time between Los Angeles and Mumbai.
Despite the tensions documented in the film, Leone has often spoken fondly of her upbringing.
“It was great growing up in Sarnia — great place for kids to grow up,” she told the Toronto Star earlier this year.
Mostly Sunny has received mixed reviews since its world premier at TIFF and has reportedly been picked up for international distribution.