"it wouldn’t be possible because she had a professional commitment."
Pooja Bhatt opened up about how she wanted to cast Sunny Leone in 2003’s Jism opposite John Abraham.
Bipasha Basu ended up being cast as Sonia Khanna.
Revealing that Sunny was still working in the adult film industry at the time, Pooja said:
“I wanted to cast Sunny Leone in Jism part 1.
“Before meeting Bipasha (Basu) I had read about Sunny Leone. A publication had written a small snippet on her, it said, ‘people to watch out for,’ and had Sunny Leone’s picture in it.
“At the time, my office contacted her manager in America and they told us that she had just signed a contract with Penthouse and so it wouldn’t be possible because she had a professional commitment.
“So we forgot about it. So, of course, we went to Bipasha, and have no regrets. Bipasha was stunning in the film. Bipasha and John Abraham’s chemistry was also electric. So, no regrets at all.”
Sunny Leone would go on to be cast in the sequel, which was her Hindi acting debut.
Recalling how her decision to approach Sunny shocked her then-business partner Dino Morea, Pooja shared:
“In 2012, when we were making Jism 2, we were discussing whom to cast. We were wondering if we should cast Mallika Sherawat or take Bipasha again or sign a new girl.
“That’s when it clicked, why don’t we contact Sunny Leone?
“Dino Morea was my partner, so I called him and asked him if he had heard Sunny Leone’s name and he said ‘no’, so I called him a liar and asked him to Google her and not be shocked.
“He did that and called me, and said, ‘She is very pretty, very beautiful, but…’ The big question was how can we cast somebody who has been an adult entertainer… Two weeks after that she was in the Bigg Boss house.”
Pooja explained that she made her father Mahesh Bhatt enter the Bigg Boss 5 house to ask Sunny – who was a contestant on the show, if she would be interested in the film.
“I called for an emergency meeting in my office and said if Sunny can be in Bigg Boss, be on TV, and hence enter everybody’s house, then why not in our film?
“At the time Raj Naik was with Colors, so we called him, he is a family friend.”
“We told him that we are keen on casting her so he said that’s ok, and asked us if any of us would be keen on going into the Bigg Boss house.
“I asked Bhatt sahab (Mahesh Bhatt) to go because he can gauge in five minutes if someone has the potential in them or not.
“He went in, met her and told her that his daughter was making a film and she said she is interested, and the rest is history.”