Sonu Sood: An actor who believes in giving back
City Times caught up with the Bollywood star who was in Dubai to talk about the upcoming Stardust Achievers Awards, that will be attended by celebs from the film industry and sports world
What's really the point of being powerful and popular if you can't help others who are less privileged than you? It obviously feels good to receive more and more, but only the blessed ones understand the joys of giving back. We cannot help but admire Sonu Sood who is bringing acid attack survivors from India for the Stardust Achievers Awards taking place in Dubai, on September 21 at the St Regis. We caught up with Sonu in Dubai last weekend where he told us about the initiative and why Dubai is a second home to him.
Can you tell us more about the Achievers Awards event that you are organising?
The Stardust Achievers Awards is in aid of acid attack survivors. It is a great initiative started by Kulsum Shadab for Hothur's Foundation. They take care of the treatment of acid attack victims - get them employed and married. They take care of all their needs. They also help them fight mental issues (counselling sessions).
I remember they had a workshop where we promoted the issue. That's where I came across lots of acid attack survivors and I realised how they were affected mentally while going through the trauma - how they go through it, and how it changes their whole life.
When I was doing Stardust Awards, I thought that we should bring this issue to light and that's how we got associated with it. Hence, we are doing this awards event which is happening on September 21 in Dubai. We will have personalities from the sports field, politics and Bollywood attending the awards. We want to bring people from different walks of life under one roof and make them part of this initiative.
Why did you choose Dubai as the main venue?
I always feel that Dubai is a lucky place for me - all the biggest things that I have done in my life actually started from Dubai, whether it is City of Life or Happy New Year or Jackie Chan's Kung Fu Yoga. I connect with people a lot here.
There is a good mix of Indians, Pakistanis and different nationalities from across the world in the city. Though there are many awards shows happening in Dubai, I never wanted this to be one of those. This show has a purpose and that's why we are calling it Achievers Awards. Farah Khan, Tabu, Sania Mirza, PV Sindhu, Prabhu Deva, Jaya Prada and Pankaj Advani will be attending the event.
A few months back, you organised a Holi event in Dubai and now this. You are often here to shoot for your movies as well. Any plans to buy a property in Dubai?
I wish I could buy a property in Dubai. But the way things are looking now, I am sure it will happen very soon. I would say Dubai is my second home, and I come here often. All my friends say that it is high time that I get a house here and live here because I am a frequent visitor here. There is something about this place that attracts me again and again.
Kulsum on her fight for victory over violence
Kulsum Shadab Wahab is the CEO of Hothur Foundation, promoted by the Wahab group of companies. Hothur Foundation is spearheaded by Kulsum towards uplifting and addressing the economically backward and underprivileged. "My dream is to get women who are acid attack survivors on an international platform and to make them feel worthy of themselves. I want them to be confident individuals, earn for themselves and face the world bravely. I am grateful to Sonu Sood for being part of this fight for victory over violence. He has been a part of the workshops and been extremely instrumental in promoting skin banking. Hothur Foundation is very happy to be associated with this event as this will give these women global visibility and more people will learn about skin banking and be sensitive towards their needs," said Kulsum to City Times.
"SAROJ a programme by Hothur Foundation is an initiative to give voice to acid attack survivors and the problems they face while being reintegrated into society. I have been vociferous in the advocation of skin banking, a concept uncommon in India .. but one that needs to be popularised immediately. Skin banking is a process in which skin is removed from a donor body, tested for suitability as a graft material, packaged, stored and finally reused as a graft. The process is similar to that of blood banking and comes as a life saver for those suffering from burns or acid attacks. To a large extent survivors' confidence can be restored with skin banking," she added.
Message for Khaleej Times' readers
Sonu: As soon as I land in Dubai, Khaleej Times is the first newspaper that I open if I want to know what is happening in the UAE. I wish the best to all the people in Khaleej Times, especially my brother Suhail Galadari. He is a thorough gentleman and a very kind person. I have known him for many years. While I was shooting for Happy New Year in Dubai, we used to spend so many hours together. In fact, whenever I come to Dubai, I always visit him. I want to thank him for all the support that he has given for all the causes that we have been associated with and I am sure together we are going to rock and rule!