• Sunday, July 03, 2022

Arts and Culture

Sonu Sood: Superhero of 2020

CHAMPION: Sonu Sood (Photo: Instagram)

By: Manju Chandran

SONU SOOD REFLECTS ON A LIFE-CHANGING YEAR OF HELPING THOSE IN NEED, INSPIRING MILLIONS AND BEING NAMED TOP ASIAN CELEBRITY IN THE WORLD

by ASJAD NAZIR

IN DECEMBER, Sonu Sood was named as the global Asian celebrity of the year for 2020 and it is a well-deserved honour for an actor who made an incredibly positive impact during a dreadfully difficult time for everyone.

While the world retreated indoors due to the pandemic, the talented actor stepped forward to perform the kind of philanthropic deeds not seen before by a South Asian star. From sending migrants stranded due to the Covid-19 lockdown home to setting up scholarships, helping the elderly, giving impoverished individuals financial aid and more, super Sonu won hearts of many millions and inspired them to follow in his footsteps.

Eastern Eye caught up with Sonu Sood and got him to look back on a life-changing year for him and those he helped, which showed the world kindness can make a difference. He also gave advice to those going through a difficult time and spoke about politics, and his future plans as an actor.

How do you look back on 2020?
2020 has been a roller coaster ride but it has been extremely special. I have had the opportunity to interact and get to know so many people from different nooks of the country, belonging to various backgrounds and walks of life. We have exchanged our stories and they have caused a positive stir and change in me. I will always remember 2020 as a year when we all tried to be the best versions of ourselves. I have received a lot of love from all quarters and am extremely humbled.

Did you imagine your philanthropic endeavours would make such a huge difference?
I began with holding food drives. Thereafter, I reached out to migrant labourers and workers who were stranded in the city and wanted to go back home to their loved ones. I remember watching these footages on news channels, where they walked a hundred miles to reach their homes. That did something to me. I kept thinking for days and nights altogether as to what I can do to help them. To be very honest, I helped them because I wanted to. I never thought of what would follow. Over the months, people have been so kind and they have called me a messiah. I am no messiah. I was simply trying to help.

How much did being able to assist others help you cope with the lockdown?
Being out there, setting up a toll-free number, constantly being in touch with people who needed my assistance, arranging for transport facilities and getting the paperwork done by reaching out to the authorities, and the frontline workers took up almost all of my time during the lockdown. While many looked at the lockdown as an opportunity to slow down, I thought it would be great to make productive use of my time. I feel happy and blessed that I could extend a helping hand to those in need.

What was your biggest driving force as you progressed from helping migrants to others in need?
That smile on their faces and the happiness in their eyes drove me and they continue to be my biggest driving force. So many of them have sent me their videos while they were on the road, as they were going back to their homes. A couple even named their newborn after me. When I see these videos and hear these stories, they fill my eyes with happy tears.

You got a lot of love and attention, but managed to remain grounded and focused. How important was that for you?
It is numero uno for me. If you are not grounded, you will lose focus very easily. No matter how successful you become, you should not forget who you really are and where you come from. We are defined by how we treat others and how humble we are. That is something that I have been taught by my parents and I teach this to my children too. My wife and I are very particular about making our children realise the value of humility, kindness and staying grounded.

Has this lockdown changed you in any big way?
Most definitely. It has made me value the things that I otherwise took for granted. Apart from being out there with the frontline workers and those who needed my help, I had spent the rest of my time with my family, which is something that my hectic work schedule does not permit. I have realised that it is the small things that count. I look at the lockdown as a period of detoxification and introspection. I guess now I am clearer about what kind of choices and difference I want to make.

What are the positives we can take from this turbulent time we have been living in?
The secret to a happy life is to turn every adversity into an opportunity. If you have an optimistic outlook towards life, you can navigate through the toughest situations. This turbulent time has given rise to a cleaner environment and has given us the chance to change into a better version of ourselves. Going ahead, we need to keep these things in our minds. Let us continue to be compassionate, sympathetic and responsible towards those in need and to mother nature. Also, let us not forget to hold our family and loved ones closer to us, more than ever.

What is the plan for 2021?
Well, the idea is to keep being there for those who need us. I will make sure that I can help people to the best of my capacity. There are a few things planned out, but I can only talk about them once they take a concrete shape. As for films, I would want to be a part of some really interesting projects that excite me and challenge me as an actor. I am looking forward to collaborating with some great names in the business.

What confirmed films do you have on the way?
There is Prithviraj. I also have two South films, Alludu Adhurs and Chiranjeevi’s 152nd film.

What kind of characters do you want to play?
I want to play parts that make me push the envelope and challenge the actor in me. I don’t want to get too comfortable because it gets boring. I want to try my hands at playing the kind of characters I have never played before.

Do you see yourself taking up more acting projects internationally?
Why not! I am open to doing films irrespective of the language. I started my career with a Tamil film. And I have done films in English and Mandarin. If a good offer comes my way and I feel like I should take it up because it will be an interesting addition to my body of work, then I am most definitely open to it.

So, do you see yourself moving into the field of politics?
I have been getting requests and offers to join politics since the past 10 years or so. It is not like I am not interested in it, but it is just that this is not the right time. I am a person who believes in giving his 100 per cent to everything he does. I don’t want to dabble in films and politics, simultaneously, because that would mean I am not giving my all to either of them, which would be unfair. If I join politics, I will decide on it on my own will and when I think I am ready for it.

Will you keep a new year’s resolution?
I am a person who does not believe in resolutions. But I think I am going to keep one this time. 2020 has been like a learning ground. It has taught us to be responsible, kind and compassionate. I hope we continue to be these things as we move into 2021. What the world needs right now is more and more of generous people.

What message would you give those going through a tough time?
That there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Tough times and situations are a part and parcel of our lives and the best way is to have a positive outlook, and believe they will be over sooner than we can imagine. The secret is to believe in yourself. It is rightly said we are stronger than we think we are. Tough times shape us and make us more courageous.

Today, what most inspires you?
Children inspire me a lot. They are so pure and have no filter. They speak their minds and the love they give you is unconditional and unadulterated. They also remind us what it’s like to be happy with the simple things in life. They inspire us to love, trust and be the best versions of ourselves.

Finally, how important do you think kindness is in today’s times?
Kindness is the key to a happy world. I have always been taught by my parents that no matter how successful I become in my life, I should remember to be kind and humble. My mum used to keep saying that with privilege comes responsibility. I have not forgotten her words. We cannot call ourselves successful unless we extend a helping hand to the lesser privileged. Showing kindness and goodness is as rewarding as receiving it from someone. In our busy lives, it is imperative to stop, breathe, look around and help those who need help.

Eastern Eye

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