'I Am No Messiah', reads the title of a memoir written by Bollywood actor Sonu Sood. But the thousands of stranded migrant workers and students during the initial Covid-19 pandemic lockdown stages beg to differ. Sonu in 2020 was dubbed as the 'Messiah for migrants,' thanks to his unending philanthropic and humanitarian work that helped save lives of many. In the autobiography, the actor also pens his journey from Moga (his birth place in Punjab) to Mumbai, and struggles that were part of becoming an actor in the country.
Sonu, who has appeared in several films, both positive and negative, but mostly the latter, is close to the half-century mark. Last month, the 'Singh is Kinng' actor was in Dubai to celebrate his 49th birthday. It was a grand affair at Dubai Festival City Fountain where a stunning laser show was part of the actor's birthday celebrations. The celebrations concluded at the restaurant Biet El Kell, where we caught up with Sonu and discussed a day in his life as an actor, model, philanthropist, fitness freak, and a messiah.
Excerpts from the interview:
Sonu, you are an actor, a model, a philanthropist and messiah for many, a fitness freak. What’s a day in a life for you?
For me, a day is listening to a lot of people. Whenever I leave, even for my gym, I meet so many people standing at my gate. When I come back from the gym, then too I meet many people. So, yes 60 to 70 per cent of my day goes in philanthropy, 20 to 30 per cent goes in acting, and fitness is a part of it. I'm enjoying the best days of my life, and I feel really blessed.
You’re a frequent visitor here in Dubai, what are your thoughts on the city?
Yes, I'm a frequent visitor to Dubai. And now, I also have a golden visa. I think it's one of the most beautiful places, it's got very warm people and the kind of hospitality that we get in the city makes us feel like it's our second home. The best films that I've done in my career, from 'City of Life' to 'Kung Fu Yoga' with Jackie Chan to 'Happy New Year' with Shah Rukh Khan, all were shot in Dubai. So yes, Dubai is a lucky place. And I feel that its people always laid red carpets for us.
You play villainous roles on screen but that’s completely opposite of how you are off screen. Do you seek such roles?
I used to play villainous roles, but now all the roles that have been offered to me are positive. Very, very positive roles. No one wants me to play negative roles now. So yes, it's a new innings. A different one. So I'm really looking forward to that. All the things that I'm doing right now, all the hero and protagonist roles.
You became a hero for thousands during the pandemic. Was there at any point in your life a time when somebody else became your hero?
I always believe that there's a hero in your life. It's your family, your wife, kids, mother, father or whoever has been there around you, teaching you and praising for what you're doing in life. My mother was a professor, she taught kids free of cost her entire life. My father used to have 'langar' (a community kitchen that serves free meals to all free of charge) in front of the house. My wife Sonali also does a lot of philanthropy. My kids, too, enjoy that phase. So yes, I think we live in an atmosphere where everyone believes in giving and that makes everyone a hero in my life.
There’s a lot more to you than just being an actor. What’s one thing or lesson in life you hold dearest?
I think the biggest lesson that I hold very close to my heart, is that you have to give back to the society. There's no point in becoming rich or famous if you can't change someone's life, or if you can't bring a smile in anyone's life. I think life is meaningless if someone does not have any hope from you. Believe in giving and believe in changing lives, I think that's what makes you a real human being.
You recently made an appearance in 'Samrat Prithviraj'. What’s next?
Yes, 'Samrat Prithviraj' was very, very special. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Chand Bardai. And now I have Fateh, which is a cyber crime film, an action thriller. It is going to roll next month. I got an out and out positive role and a very special one. Looking forward to that and I'm sure it's going to be magical.
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