MUMBAI — An Indo-Canadian adult film actress makes her Bollywood debut on Friday in what is expected to be one of India's raunchiest mainstream movies, which is already raising eyebrows in the sexually conservative country.
Sunny Leone, born in Canada to Indian parents, plays a porn actress in the Hindi film "Jism 2" (Body 2) that opens in cinemas on Friday to much buzz, as well as controversy over its provocative posters and content.
The mayor of Mumbai, Sunil Prabhu, has ordered the removal of promotional posters from public buses in India's entertainment capital after a local legislator complained the image used was obscene, the Press Trust of India reported.
The advertisement shows a naked woman reclining suggestively under a sheer, wet sheet, although the model is not 31-year-old Leone, who has no previous experience of mainstream cinema or theatre.
Earlier in the week, protesters in northwest Amritsar burned an effigy of Leone in anger at the film's alleged vulgarity, while a resident of the holy city of Varanasi has reportedly asked a court to put a stay order on the film.
Leone told entertainment channel Star World that she had had to adapt to the demands of mainstream cinema and its more sophisticated choreography, particularly for love scenes.
"It was so complicated. In my world, it's turn the camera on and go," she told interviewer Anupama Chopra according to a transcript released to the media.
The award-winning porn star in the United States made her name in India in the reality television series Bigg Boss last year and declared her interest afterwards in taking on film roles.
Speaking to online portal Bollywood Hungama, she said her first Hindi production was "not frivolous cinema by any means".
"Yes, the promos may have given an indication of a sex-laden film but inherently it is a dramatic thriller. Wait for some surprises," she said.
The first movie in the series, released in 2003, starred popular actress Bipasha Basu in the lead and was a thriller woven around an extra-marital affair, again a taboo for mainstream Hindi movies.
A video of the sequel's title song on YouTube has already notched up nearly three million views over the past month.
At a promotional event for the movie in Delhi last Friday, Leone showed her ability to grab headlines by posing in white lingerie while lying on a bed.
Critics of the decision to take promotional posters off Mumbai's public buses was condemned by some as the latest example of "moral policing" in Mumbai, where numerous recent raids on popular nightspots have angered the city's youth -- a more liberal, Westernised generation than their parents.
Mocking the decision to take down the posters on Twitter, the film's director Pooja Bhatt thanked the complainants "for giving Jism 2 cult status!"
Leone says she plans to keep making adult movies in Los Angeles, where she owns her own production company, but will refrain from appearing in porn roles herself over the next couple of years.
She is also appearing in India in a televised advertisement for black, grape-flavoured condoms and an animal charity campaign for sterilisation of pet cats and dogs.