"When I participated in Bigg Boss, people assumed that I would be jumping on the couch and taking my clothes off," says Sunny Leone, laughing.
The 33-year-old former adult entertainer is in her car, on her way to a night shoot, at the time of this interview. "But that's not who I am in real life," she says. "The audience saw that I am a regular girl who was learning to cook and talk in Hindi. If it was any other way, I wouldn't be here doing Bollywood movies today, would I?"
Maxim magazine named Leone among the top 12 porn stars in the world in 2010. In 2012, she made her Bollywood debut with Pooja Bhatt's Jism 2 - a role she bagged after meeting Mahesh Bhatt in the Bigg Boss house - and last year, she featured in Ragini MMS 2. Five of her movies are currently in different stages of shooting and production.
From an adult entertainer to an aspiring Bollywood actress, does her success reflect changing mindsets when it comes to sex and the modern Indian woman? "I don't see myself as a crusader," Leone says. "I am simply a girl who wants to act and make a career in Bollywood. When people see me giving interviews on TV, or when I make public appearances, they see that my personality is not what they had imagined based on my previous job."
Leone stresses that she is not ashamed of her past or her sexuality. Being sexy, she says, is second nature for her. But what she really wants to focus on right now is acting. "Even if people say Sunny is a decent actress, not great, not excellent, just decent, that would mean a lot to me," she says.
Getting there, given her sexually charged past, is not going to be easy. Leone is not oblivious to that. "Everyone has baggage," she says. But how will she shed that baggage if she plays a seductress in every film?
"Each movie is different. Each character is different. If you make me wear full pants and a shirt, I will be that person who people don't recognise," she says. Her fans will see her differently, but that's going to happen gradually, not overnight, she adds.
As for the average Indian woman's openness and expression of her individual sexuality, Leone believes to each her own. Leone, who once admitted to being bisexual with a greater preference for men, is now married. Her husband, Daniel Webber, is also her manager.
"Ultimately, it all boils down to how confident and comfortable you are with your own sexuality," she says. "If your sexuality means pleasing your husband in bed, then so be it. If it means expressing it in other ways, then that's good too. How you want to express your sexuality is completely your prerogative, not society's," she says.