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Porn star Sunny Leone under fire for using her Sikh name in webseries title
A biopic webseries centering on Indian-American porn star and Bollywood actress Sunny Leone is riling up members of the Sikh community for the use of her surname in the series’ title.
A spokesperson for Sikh organization Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee said the webseries’ title is offensive because the actress is no longer affiliated with the religion.
“She changed her religion and cannot use Kaur with her name. It is a very pious suffix given to Sikh women by the Sikh gurus,” said the spokesperson, Daljit Singh Bedi, according to India Today. “The person who is not a follower of Sikh religion cannot use Kaur. She should tender a public apology as the title has insulted Sikhs.”
Manjinder Singh Sirsa, an Indian politician, wrote an open letter July 15 denouncing the series title as a “bad-tasting publicity stunt” and said the Kaur name has “sentimental value.”
“We have no objection to Sunny Leone choosing her profession and getting a biopic made on her life but when has she advanced in this profession under the name Sunny Leone; why is Karnejit [sic.] Kaur name being used as title?”
— Manjinder S Sirsa (@mssirsa) July 15, 2018
Sunny Leone, 37, was born Kanenjit Kaur Vohra in Sarnia, Ontario. Her parents, both Sikh Punjabi, emigrated from India, according to Vice. Some people on Twitter defended the use of her given name in the biopic.
Why? Will removing Kaur from her name make her non-Sikh? She is a Sikh and she is not just a porn star. Get your head out of her Vagina. Sunny Leone was born Karenjit Kaur. Deal with it you pathetic bigot and misogynist. https://t.co/bPes4TxhLs
— Mona Ambegaonkar (@MonaAmbegaonkar) July 16, 2018
That’s part of her name. Who are you to decide whether @SunnyLeone can use her name or not? Don’t like a movie? Then don’t watch it. Stop being a bigot. Don’t be a vella. Find something else to do instead. https://t.co/WOXegkBZKN
— Prerna Bakshi (@bprerna) July 16, 2018
The actress has not addressed the criticism. On Twitter, she’s been ramping up enthusiasm and promotion of the webseries, which premiered Monday on streaming website Zee5.
— Sunny Leone (@SunnyLeone) July 15, 2018
She previously told the Indo-Asian News Service that her biopic deals with “the unexpected.”
“This is a part of my life story and not necessarily the journey you are expecting to see,” she said.
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Kris Seavers is the Evening Editor for the Daily Dot, where she covers breaking news, politics, and LGBTQ issues. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.