“Social work is an extension of my work itself. It’s not something different," says Sonu Sood, who, since the time the pandemic hit, has gone out of his way and reached out to people across the country and the Indian diaspora abroad. As things are slowly getting back to normal, Sood has also started working on films and is trying to maintain a balance between his professional life and social work.
In this interview, the actor explains how being involved in social work hasn’t hampered his acting career, why his image of crusader won’t affect his film choices and how he spends time with his family despite being available 24/7 to those who need help.
You have achieved the epithet of a Messiah now. How has that impacted your career? Is there a change in the kind of roles that are coming your way?
As I have said time and again, I am no messiah. I am just trying to do the right thing, which I have learned from my parents. I am doing nothing extraordinary, and I believe that everyone should do their bit in trying to help each other out. Career-wise it hasn’t impacted me in any way. I am still the same actor who is looking for great characters and great stories to tell. I am choosing scripts that look interesting to me, and that’s my primary focus.
Going ahead, how do you plan on striking a balance between your career and your social work?
Social work is an extension of my work itself. It’s not something different. Just like I organically maintain a balance between my professional and personal life, my social work is also going to be organically fed into my daily schedule. This is the part of my life and I will continue doing it.
For the people of India, you are their superhero without a cape, and naturally, they want to see you in a certain light on the screen. Will that come in the way while choosing projects?
Not at all. I love my profession. I’m getting many movies and roles that are larger than life but that doesn’t mean I will do them all. I choose films only when I am absolutely in love with them. Audiences have always showered their love on me and the projects I choose. So, I hope going forward they would continue to do the same.
As a public figure who has been placed on a pedestal now, do you feel any kind of pressure? Do you believe that every action of yours will be under the scanner, now more than ever?
The pressure is of not being able to help everyone who needs it. There is no other pressure. I hope to be helpful to everyone who has sent me a message in need or has given me a call or has taken the pains to come to my doorsteps asking for help. I hope that I am able to help each and everyone, and not let anyone go empty-handed. Apart from that, there is no other pressure.
It is said that a lot of acting is about observation. Have the experiences that you have had in the past year changed your perspective as an actor as well?
Yes, definitely. The last year and a half have made not just me, but everyone realises that there are certain things in life that are beyond anyone’s control. You may be the richest man in the world, and yet not be able to get the proper medical attention needed for yourself or your family. So, those kinds of realisations have hit me and the entire human race hard. Health has to be of primeval importance. Success, fame, wealth – everything else comes after that.
You still get a number of requests from various places across India to help them in some way. How do you manage so many of them and on what criteria do you select the requests?
It’s not just me monitoring it. I have an entire team of over 400 people who’re helping me out in whichever way possible. There is no set selection criterion. We are trying to help everyone. Yes, when we read about a case, we understand the severity of it. Depending on that we know which to be prioritized first and which can be done second. That’s the only thing.
What is the kind of response that you have received from your kids when it comes to your social work?
They love it. They also help me out in whichever way possible. I hope they are able to grow up to do things much more than what I am doing. That’s the aim that any father can have – to have their children exceed them in their lives and do something that the whole world can be proud of them.
You’ve been really busy with your work. Has that affected spending time with your family? How have they taken to it?
I have a fixed timing which I have to give to my family irrespective of however busy I am. If I am in town, then I have to have dinner with my family. That’s a must. We all sit together and over dinner discuss our day, and what all we did. We try and catch up on some show or some movie together after dinner some days if it’s not a school night. If I am not in town and shooting somewhere else, then for sure, we try and connect over video calls and talk about our day and what all happened.
You are collaborating with many countries like France and Taiwan to set up oxygen plants in India. What kind of progress has happened on that front?
Yes, we are in the process to bring in many more oxygen plants from not just France and Taiwan, but many other countries. They all are at different stages of communication and approval. So, hopefully, soon we will be bringing in many more oxygen plants and setting them up across different states of India. Hopefully, with these oxygen plants, we will be able to prepare ourselves better for the third wave, whenever it comes.
While you are visible for the noble work that you are doing, is staying away from films for so long concern you?
To be honest, most of the film-related work is on a slow pitch for every actor. Not just me. We all are trying to take it slow. We all know what’s more important at such a time when the country needs your full support and dedication. So, I am trying to do as much as possible on that front, and side by side am also continuing shoots. Things have slowly started opening up much more, and hopefully, once we have won the battle against Covid-19, we will all get back to our normal work lives and our daily routines.