In an exclusive interview with SAURABH TANKHA, actor-producer SONU SOOD talks his book, I Am No Messiah; his role in the upcoming movie, Prithviraj; future plans about his life and more…
When did the idea of penning I Am No Messiah strike and how did you reach out to the needs of people during the lockdown phase of Covid-19?
It was while working during the ongoing pandemic that the idea of chronicling my journeys in a book occurred to me. I got to meet, talk and listen to people from all walks of life and from different nooks of the country last year. These interactions with them not only changed my outlook but also my life’s purpose. I wanted to share these poignant stories with the world. I’m happy Meena Iyer and Penguin Random House India helped me transform my dream into reality.
While working during the ongoing pandemic that the idea of chronicling my journeys in a book occurred to me. I got to meet, talk and listen to people from all walks of life and from different nooks of the country last year
There must have been an inner voice which must have told you to get up and go out there to help these people in need. How did you go about the logistics including getting the right set of honest and dedicated people as this can be the most challenging part of the exercise?
I’ve an amazing team working with me. Together, we worked to help improve situations of the needy and the downtrodden during the ongoing pandemic to the best of our abilities. We spent days and nights meeting authorities, getting the paperwork done and arranging for transportation facilities. We also set up a toll-free helpline number so that people could reach out to us if they needed help.
How do you or your team judge that the person seeking help is genuine?
I’ve a strong team of some really efficient people. After we receive a request, we reach out and talk to them. We ask them questions and they answer. They ask us questions and we answer. It is an intense process but once you start talking to someone, you come to know if they are genuine or not.
The app has more than 500 companies offering job opportunities. I’ve a solid team who are always seeking out employment opportunities through intense research and networking for those who have lost their jobs
How is Pravasi Rojgar app doing?
We realised that though it is important to provide food and other basic supplies to those in need during these tough times, it is also essential to make them self-reliant and self-sufficient. That is when my team and I came up with the idea of Pravasi Rojgar. The app has more than 500 companies offering job opportunities. It is about being aware. I’ve a solid team who are always seeking out employment opportunities through intense research and networking for those who have lost their jobs. There are so many companies who want people to join them and work for them.
Given the popularity of OTT during this tumultuous phase, will it be the future of entertainment industry in India?
It is no longer the future as it is brilliantly coexisting with theatrical releases today. There’s amazing content out there on the web which the audience can watch in the comfort of their homes and at their own convenience. As an industry, I think we have upped our ante long ago. The landscape has changed and filmmakers and writers are putting a lot of thought into developing stories and ideas. It is good to see that writers have come to the fore yet again. Web also opened up a lot of opportunities for actors. There is no concept of ‘hero’ there; the story is the real hero.
When do we get to see Sonu Sood in a web series?
Hopefully soon. I’m waiting for the right script and looking forward to mark my debut on the web space. It is every actor’s dream to be a part of great narratives that remain etched in the hearts of the audience. The moment I get something interesting, I’ll take it up.
I play Chand Bardai, the court poet in Prithviraj. He composed the famous Prithviraj Raso and played an instrumental role in helping the king kill Muhammad Ghori
Tell us about your role in Prithviraj and other projects.
I play Chand Bardai which is a very interesting and powerful character. The court poet of Prithviraj Chauhan, he composed the famous Prithviraj Raso that narrates the life and times of Prithviraj Chauhan. Chand Bardai also played an instrumental role in helping the king kill Muhammad Ghori. In Acharya, an action film, I’ll be sharing screen space with Chiranjeevi sir and Kajal Aggarwal. Then there is Alludu Adhurs is a Telugu romantic comedy which will see me alongside Bellamkonda Sreenivas and Prakash Raj. While I can’t reveal much about my characters in them, I have interesting and pivotal roles in them.
You have worked with the stalwarts of the industry. What have been the learnings during this phase which you have implemented in your professional and personal life?
I’ve had the opportunity of working with some of the most talented actors and directors. It is always an enriching experience when you work with people who share a similar creative thought as you do. I’ve seen the biggest stars being their most humble selves on and off camera. I’ve learnt that no matter how big you become, you can’t lose touch with your reality that shapes you both as a person and as an artiste. I’m grateful that I got to work with people who are immensely giving in terms of their craft. That way you can feed off of their energy and bring the best version of yourself forward.
For a budding engineer to share the news of entering the entertainment industry must have come as a surprise to your parents. What was their first reaction when you broke this news?
I was born and brought up in Moga in Punjab. My father owned a cloth store and my mother was a professor. I had expressed my desire of becoming an actor to them but we knew no one from the film industry. After my 12th, I moved to Nagpur to pursue a course in engineering. After finishing the course, I told my mother to give me a year’s time so that I could give acting a shot. So, I moved to Mumbai and began auditioning. My parents have always supported my dreams and ambitions. When I called them up to share the news that I had bagged my first film, they could not believe it but they were very proud of me.
My parents have always supported my dreams and ambitions. When I called them up to share the news that I had bagged my first film, they could not believe it but they were very proud of me
You have often talked about the role your mother played in making you the person you are. What has been your father’s role in your life?
Both my parents have had a huge influence on me. My father was one of the nicest and warmest persons I’ve known. He was extremely supportive of my dreams and always motivated me to give my 100% to everything I do and be kind and compassionate to the lesser privileged. I hope I can be the same father to my children.
What’s up next for Sonu Sood?
There are some interesting things in the pipeline. I’ve been reading a bunch of scripts. Thankfully, some exciting projects are coming my way. As for my social work, we have a few things planned but I can talk about them once they take a concrete shape.