When you settle down to watch a documentary about Sunny Leone, you expect to hear some juicy gossip and maybe even catch a glimpse of the woman Sunny was before she became a Bollywood star. And Mostly Sunny doesn’t disappoint on that score. It has many tidbits about Sunny’s entry into the adult entertainment industry, her relationship with husband Daniel Weber before they got married, and such.

What you don’t expect is to walk away with a new respect and perspective on Karenjit Kaur Vohra, the woman branded as Sunny Leone. Her refusal to be seen as somehow abused or coerced into doing pornographic films, her confidence and self-belief in the path she chose to make money, and her clear-minded vision that has made her a force to be reckoned with – all inspire praise, admiration and at the very least, respect. She is revealed to be a driven and ambitious person, but yet touchingly vulnerable and surprisingly innocent.  

The documentary shows Sunny at her old home in Sarnia, Canada – a small town in which she is still shunned by the Indian community. It delves into her early family life, which was quite the same as that of an ordinary Indian family. It explores her extremely close relationship with her brother, Sundeep, who is shown to be a pillar of support in her life, just like her husband. In bits and pieces, we hear the story of how Sunny became the Penthouse Pet of the year in 20013, and from there a porn star who went on to become a brand in herself.

It is so easy to objectify someone who used to be a porn star and whose only impact on Bollywood so far, seems to have been on the basis of her looks. The interviews with Karen (as her husband calls her), her brother and her husband shatter that two-dimensional image of her, showing her to be a loving and loved human being who is inspiring in her ability to defy norms, labels and restriction in all  she does. A woman who lives life on her own terms and dares you to do the same.

Director Dilip Mehta has not chosen a complex narrative structure to present his subject, opting for a simpler montage style of interviews and clips instead. Despite this, he manages to achieve what he set out to do – give us an intimate glimpse of the woman we know as Sunny Leone.