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Home / Opinion / Online-views /  Understatement: India’s most successful (No) body

Google’s expected list of the most searched topics and people around the world comes up annually with a country wise breakup. This year, Canadian-Indian adult film star Sunny Leone heads the India list, one notch above Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who by all means got the most attention in 2014. Not just that, Leone’s Bollywood foray, Ragini MMS, is also one of the top trending searches of the year. Considering that behavioural footprints on the Internet reveal substantially about the mindset of a people, let’s not make light of Leone.

I must admit to googling her myself a couple of times in the year (though I never double clicked Ragini MMS) and for the sake of this blog I did it once again. The moment you type Sunny, the rest pops up happily. A search for her HD wallpapers seems familiar to the search engine as does www.sunnyleone.com, her porn site with a vivid caution that it’s for adults only. As the search drops further down, lots of other stuff comes up, mostly free sex videos, her official YouTube and Facebook pages. An erotically charged image sits as the cover photo on her FB page while her profile image shows her in a bikini.

She describes herself as actor-director. There are more likes for this page than I learnt to count in my mathematics class but if you believe you will stumble into a gem of an insight about the secret lives of porn stars, or the private fantasies of Leone herself or even the success recipe behind this buxom, fair, adult film actor getting a Bollywood role or few, there is none of that. It’s all body, as some might say.

On the other hand, when you search for Modi (and isn’t this a really ridiculous comparison?), you are drowned by informative links that open up a world of images and insights. Not just about a chai vendor from a small town in Gujarat who went on to became the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy, his copyrighted kurtas and colourful jackets but scores of other links on India, Bharat, Hindustan, the cultural clamour of our country, the skein of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) political ideology, his thoughts about language and education, foreign policy, even his unusual marriage defined by separation but not divorce. In other words, Modi stands for a dozen dialogues creaking and screaming inside India whereas Sunny Leone stands for just one, pornography.

But since she tops the list of most searched people, the clear implication is that Indians are primarily and mostly looking for pornographic material when they hit the net. Now consider some questions that could spring from this conclusion.

One, there is no dearth of free porn on the net anyway. So why this fixation with Sunny Leone? Two, nowhere is in the world is Internet surfing a privileged activity practiced just by heterosexual men. So does Leone’s soaring popularity in India mean that women also find her life attractive and amusing? Or, is googling from India indeed primarily a male activity? I would really doubt the latter. Incidentally, Google’s 2014 list puts out Salman Khan as the most searched Bollywood actor and Katrina Kaif as the most searched female Bollywood star. We really worship the body in India, don’t we?

The curiosity behind Ragini MMS and its sequel Ragini MMS 2 would carry similar arguments. Leone is a lusty looking girl and lust makes a great photograph, with or without clothes. Especially with clothes. In films, she doesn’t take them off.

I do have one simplistic deduction that may explain our fascination with Leone. Indian porn which is sometimes clubbed with Asian porn in some pornographic categories is really poorly produced when it comes to staging and direction. If you hold back the moral high ground which will only skew this argument as it is not about right or wrong but about what we choose to see on the net, Indian pornography can, in fact, be off-putting. The production values of the videos uploaded as well as their content has little use for aesthetic and the dialogues are rather crass. While I am sure Leone’s busty lustiness is a big hit with men (and a section of women) across the world for reasons that have to do with private fantasies, her work as an adult film person is spiked with an aesthetic that doesn’t fall drastically down even when it caters only to the basic instinct.

When Leone arrived on the television show Bigg Boss a couple of years back, and went on to display a sexy pole dance in the middle of the hysterical house, with the men anxious in sexual tension and the women reveling in righteous anger, I remember writing an article how even pure sensationalism can convey change in conventional mindsets. Many of us popular culture writers lost interest in Leone after that, having summed her up as a good body but really a nobody.

She is still all of that. But she is surely the most successful nobody this country has.

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