Ek Paheli: Leela – The Movie Bollywood Needs, but doesn’t Want.

Sunny Leone. Write this name anywhere and you will have a mixed (or, as my Algebra teacher said, mi-xed) reaction. Put it in a movie, and whether reaction or not, you do have money in the bank. From a song in a movie to playing a titular character, Sunny Leone has come a long, long way. As far as we know, she becomes the second Indian female actor in recent times to be billed above the male actor, in this case, actors – the first being Deepika Padukone.

This week saw the release of her movie, Leela; Ek Paheli, and this is the complete review. The move also stars Jas Arora (more about him later), Mohit Alhawat and Jay Bhanushali.

Karan is part of an up and coming musician group whose sister gets in touch with a top model in London, Meera. Unknown to both of them, they are connected via their past lives and fate brings them to Jaisalmer, where Meera falls in love with Thakur Ranveer Singh. Ranveer Singh is fighting tooth and nail against his elder brother, Thakur Vikram Singh. The rest of the movie talks about the complicated relationships that the characters have with each other.

The one thing that takes any flavour that would have been in the movie is the direction. The completely non creative steps taken mar the product, which isn’t top rate anyway. It is amusing to see how there is not even a draft of breeze in the sunny (pun intended) dunes of Rajasthan. Seriously, there’s not even a whiff of breeze.

The screenplay writer is definitely seeing Hollywood movies and seems to be a WWE fan. Who else would renact the ‘This is Sparta’ scene and have someone killed with a sledgehammer?

But all that is secondary, the main actor here is Sunny Leone, who is quite sizzling, both in her modern girl avatar and of course, the desi-dehati avatar. Though it would take an average Indian some time to believe that everyone in Rajasthan, just 300 years ago, wore those kinds of skirts. If it were true, the main reason women did not progress in this area would be the time they took to ensure that the folds of their skirts would end in a proper, sensuous crescent! And we kid you not, it’s not just Leone, everyone’s wearing those skirts! If you thought the Madhuri Dixit choli attire was a bit ribald, wait for this one.

But, we cannot deny that this is a movie that India needed, and maybe not wanted. Someone online said that this was a rechanneling of the movie Divine Lovers, but we would say this is the closet one comes to watching softcore in India. Back in the eighties, even before that, there was a specific category of movies that ran about in Hollywood, wafer thin scripts, some sensual skin, some gory action. It is out of these scripts and movies that better, bigger movies were made. Make no mistake about it, Terminator, when released, was right out of this market.

In the same vein, Leela hits the right spots with a woman completely capable and available to play the bold sequences. It is amusing to see that Bollywood took around 60 years to enact the unravelling of a choli onscreen – and the one on whom this is done is an import.

Leela is an ode to the ‘90s. People who followed entertained in this decade would say that this was the naughty nineties, when people did not get offended and entertainment was just that. If you’d like that kind of cinema, Leela is for you.

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