A clip from Bhupendra Chaubey's interview with Sunny Leone surfaced a couple of days ago. It was an excerpt from a 20 minute interview, but it was enough to make a lot of people cringe. It was also enough for people to say that if they had been in Sunny's position, they would've walked out, or maybe even slapped Chaubey for his clearly misogynistic and regressive questions, which were topped by his obnoxious, wannabe-Arnab manner with which he conducted the interview, barely letting her answer in his haste to attack her with his disgusting views, not-so-subtly disguised as questions.
Well, we've got news for you. If you thought that those couple of minutes were cringeworthy, the entire interview is worse, a hundred times worse. Bhupendra Chaubey clearly gave insulting and humiliating Sunny his best shot with his unbelievably sexist questions, that belonged more to the 19th century than the 21st.
He started by asking her a very loaded question, and two minutes into the interview, you knew exactly what kind of answer he was looking for.
“Tell me one thing that you regret. One thing that you believe went wrong for you.”
Sunny's answer to this was a personal one. She regrets not being able to get home fast enough when her mother passed away.
One would think that an answer like this would elicit a modicum of sensitivity from Chaubey. But it was not to be. After a few minutes of asking other questions, he came back to this, only this time, he spelled out what he seemed to want to hear.
“Do you not sometimes get affected by the fact that your past, your past that you were this 'porn queen', will continue to haunt you? Or maybe continue to pull you back?”
“If I was to turn the clock back, would you still do what you did?”
Sunny's answer was one that ought to have shamed Chaubey into silence. She spoke about how everything she had done in her life led her to where she is right now, and how everything we do makes us who we are. A truth of life that was lost on Chaubey.
The questions got worse. Chaubey, who seemed to have appointed himself the guardian of India's morality, went on to point out how many people felt that she was responsible for corrupting Indian morality.
“Many Indian married women who look at Sunny Leone as a threat towards their husbands. They believe that their husbands are going to be taken away by Sunny Leone.”
The questions got into the Bollywood arena. Chaubey told Sunny that she has been accused of “lowering the level of the fine art of cinema,” as if Bollywood cinema is known for its artistic nature, as if adult humour, 'item numbers', and even softcore porn were brought into the industry by Sunny herself. Chaubey also seemed obsessed with labelling Sunny.
“Are you an 'item girl'?”
“Do you believe that it's your body that will ultimately take you everywhere?”
Yes, because actors becoming stars purely on the basis of their appearance is a completely alien concept to Bollywood. Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, John Abraham, Arjun Rampal, Bipasha Basu – all models, not known for their acting skills, achieved success in the film industry. But apparently, Sunny is the first person to rise to fame because of her appearance.
The mother of all preposterous insinuations was yet to come. Chaubey actually made an attempt to find a correlation between Sunny's arrival in Indian entertainment and the rise of porn viewing in India using certain 'statistics'.
“In the last four years, according to statistics that have been put up by PornHub, since you have come in national mainstream in a sense, the number of people who have been watching porn in India, has also, in a proportionate manner, increased substantially, to the extent that we are now the world's largest consumer of porn.”
Wow. What a perfectly logical deduction. So much more logical than, say, an exponential growth in Internet/smartphone/tablet users in India being responsible for more porn viewers. Also, Mr Chaubey, India is the third largest consumer of porn in the world, according to the statistics of PornHub, the same website that you quoted. Good journalism, sir, because you repeated this 'fact' again.
“I have the statistics. We were down to number 3, number 4. I mean we were certainly not the world's largest consumer of porn, which we are now.”
Well, as long as you're CERTAIN.
If you're not nauseated already, you will be when you hear Chaubey's next nugget.
“I'm wondering whether I'm being morally corrupted because I'm interview you.”
Sunny, who had hitherto been handling all of these sickening questions with some very balanced responses, had had enough, as anyone in her position would. This is what she said:
“I can leave if you want me to.”
Any prizes for guessing if this put Chaubey to shame? No. Because this is what he asked next:
“This talk, which is largely negative, which takes place against you, you love it, right?”
Her answer was riddled with a healthy dose of sarcasm.
“Really, this is negative? I couldn't tell.”
As a parting gift, Chaubey gave us a shot of sanskaar.
“Are you saying that we will also see movies of Sunny Leone in the future, where Sunny will be dressed up from head to toe in a saree? I mean covered completely. That also has its own charm.”
This man is a journalist for one of the leading news networks in the country. He has the power to influence millions of people, and this is the manner in which he chooses to conduct an interview. Misogynistic, pathetic, regressive, patronising, and downright offensive, are all words that describe his questions.
Maybe we get the kind of journalism we deserve.