There’s a new No.1 crowned every Friday, but when you win people’s hearts, the love just never goes away… Say hello to Sonu Sood – the true hero!
Recently, a video went viral. It showed an endlessly long queue of people – 500 at the very least – outside a residential building, lining up one behind the other, files in hand, anxiety on their faces, a weak light of hope in their eyes. Their destination: Sonu Sood. They’ve heard he never lets down a needy man and they are here to meet that rare angel, no matter how many hours it takes them.
All heroes don’t wear capes. This one wears his heart on his sleeve, ready to clasp a shaky hand fumbling for help. In a world that’s not necessarily cruel but largely indifferent, Sonu Sood is plain and simple different. Post the coronavirus pandemic, many call him a national hero; we believe a man like him shouldn’t be defined by boundaries!
Read on for a one-on-one with the cover star of Society Achiever’s inaugural issue. A man of few words, and a lot more action… A real hero in every sense of the term!
In a world of make-believe, you stand apart as a true hero, not just onscreen but off it, making a huge and positive difference to innumerable lives in need of help. How satisfying is it to be a real hero of the masses of our country?
I don’t do it to feel better about myself. I do it simply because I am capable of helping, I have the resources. I see people in pain and suffering and it breaks my heart; so I try, in whatever little way I can, to be of some help. And over these past few years, I have been surrounded by good people who think the same way as I do. That’s how today I am doing what I can.
Actor, producer, model – you wear many hats. Yet the one you seem to have most warmly embraced is your real-life role of humanitarian and philanthropist. How did this urge to help the poor and underprivileged come about?
I cannot stand to see someone suffer around me. During Covid, it appalled me to see so many people, helpless innocent people, had their lives wrecked. People are still reeling from it today too. So, I just did what I could do instinctively.
The film industry is known to have a generous heart, but we have perhaps never seen a single person so involved and evolved with helping the underprivileged as you. How do you plan and structure your system of helping and giving?
It started with a few endorsements, all the money that I have earned, I have asked them to give it to charity. Sometimes they give it directly to a school or hospital, sometimes they route it through our charity, the Sood Charity Foundation.
Do tell us more about the Sood Charity Foundation – its goals, mission, and achievements so far.
The Sood Charity Foundation works in different segments and organises different foundation campaigns for different people. Citizens can register as per their needs and the category they fall in, like Pravasi Rojgar, ILAAJ India, Ruk Jaana Nahi, Sonu for You, Prof. Saroj Sood Scholarship, Ghar Bhejo etc. The goal is to be of whatever help we can to those who are underprivileged or in need of help.
We have seen videos of hundreds of needy people lining up at your gate each day in hope of help. Do you feel emotionally drained at times, or overwhelmed by the sheer numbers who need help?
There may be times when I feel overwhelmed and I doubt myself, but then I remember that the point is to provide whatever help is possible. And people from all over the country are backing me with support.
What is your personal motto in your path of philanthropy?
I don’t have any specific motto. All I know is I want to help those in need till my very last breath.
Who are your inspirations in your chosen mission?
My mom. She has always been my beacon of light, guiding me in the right direction to do good – as much as possible.
You recently launched your new social media app for travellers called Explurger. Tell us more about your interest in travel and what you hope to achieve with this app.
I want people to be able to share their moments with other people without having to jump to seven different apps. And I wanted to make an app that rewards people and offers discounts for sharing the moments that make them happy.
You have worked and made a huge success across various film mediums – Hindi as well as South Indian cinema. What has been your experience across all these different film industries so far?
I have always found all of them very warm and welcoming. They have taught me a lot and I am what I am thanks to their acceptance and their belief in me. These are all industries run by people who only care about making good movies and providing a sense of belonging to the audience.
Has your film career taken a backseat to your more prominent and time-consuming role of philanthropist? Any exciting acting/production projects in the offing?
I don’t think that one takes away from the other. I am just as active in my job as I am in helping those around me. I have Fateh lined up, and also a couple of South Indian movies.
What would be your message to readers of Society Achievers?
I don’t want to say anything too grand or outlandish. All I would say is that I am grateful for the love and affection that has been graced upon me, and I hope to be of help for as long as possible.