“Is Sunny there?”
“Hi, I’m calling for Sunny Leone.”
“Can you put me on the phone with Sunny? I love her films.”
An Indian man says his phone has been ringing off the hook for the last week with calls for Canadian-born actress Sunny Leone after she gave out his number as her character’s in a recent Bollywood film.
Puneet Agarwal says he’s received more than 100 calls each day since Leone’s newest film, Arjun Patiala, hit theatres on July 26.
“I don’t even dream anymore,” Agarwal, 26, told BBC News on Thursday. “The phone keeps ringing until four in the morning.”
Leone is one of the most popular and controversial actresses in India, where she’s built a second career for herself after working as a porn star in the United States for a decade. The 36-year-old from Sarnia, Ont., was the most-searched entertainer in India in 2017, according to Google Trends. Her old portfolio also remains extremely popular on adult sites.
WATCH: Sunny Leone defends her past in hostile TV interview
Leone has become well-known in India for playing sexy roles in Bollywood films. She has also riled up the country’s conservative sensibilities, particularly after appearing an advertisement for condoms in 2017.
Agarwal says he’s become an unintended victim of Leone’s fame and he wants no part of it. He’s now demanding that the producers of Arjun Patiala remove his phone number from the film.
“They should have at least called to check if it’s a real number,” Agarwal said.
Filmmakers in Hollywood have a designated set of fake phone numbers starting with 555, which they often use to avoid putting people in predicaments like Agarwal’s. The ’90s sitcom Seinfeld even mocked the issue with an episode in which Kramer’s phone number, 555-FILK, became mixed up with the Moviefone hotline (555-FILM).
Agarwal says he can’t simply change his phone number because it’s tied to his business and he would lose touch with several old friends if he did so.
The film’s director, Rohit Jugraj Chauhan, has not commented on the issue.
Leone apologized for the situation in an interview with India’s Zoom TV.
“Sorry, guy. I didn’t mean for that to happen to you,” she says in the interview, which was published online by the Times of India. “You must get some really interesting people calling.”
Agarwal says many of the phone calls come from the northern Indian states of Punjab and Haryana, perhaps because those areas are home to most of India’s Sikh population. Arjun Patiala is a romantic comedy about a small-town Sikh policeman.
However, Agarwal says he’s had calls from all around the world — and some of them don’t take no for an answer.
“It starts politely,” he told BBC. “But once I say I don’t know her, they start abusing me. They say they know where I live and they will come teach me a lesson.”
He says he’s come up with a strategy to put the callers off, although it’s only a temporary solution.
“I just tell them she’s gone to have a bath and cannot speak right now,” he said.