Sonu Sood’s real life role of the migrants’ superhero has virtually affected his reel life roles.
Doing a yeoman’s job for those who are walking barefoot for thousands of miles to their hometowns, the Bollywood’s new role model from this town in Punjab has decided to stay away from movies till the completion of the real life drama impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
His old-time friends and well-wishers in his hometown, some 175 km from the state capital Chandigarh, describe him as the messiah of tens of thousands of desperate migrants in Maharashtra, while his family believes his philanthropy spirit comes from his ancestry.
“I am proud that my brother is giving succour and strength to those who have been ruined by the pandemic,” actor’s youngest sister Malvika Sachar (38), who is married and running her parental family business in Moga, told IANS on Tuesday.
“It is a proud moment for the family and the state that Sonu is contributing to society from his own resources,” she said.
Without naming anyone, she said, “It hardly matters when one or two people are critical about your compassionate gestures.”
“My brother arranged air tickets of nearly 160 stranded people in Mumbai for their destinations in Assam this morning. Last evening, he managed to send nearly 2,500 migrants to Bihar through trains,” an elated Malvika said, adding, “He won’t stop till the last migrant reaches home”.
Born to a business family, Sonu’s father was in the cloth business and his mother was an English lecturer in Moga’s oldest D.M. College of Education.
His father died four years ago, while his mother passed away seven years back.
Sonu’s eldest sister is settled in the US.
“Sonu is deeply attached to hometown, his family and friends. He prefers to travel to Moga whenever he spares time from his hectic schedule in Bollywood,” she said.
“This time he promised to come to his hometown once the travel restrictions owing to the lockdown are over. Since he’s now busy with thousands of migrants, I think he will not unite with his family till his aim to reunite each and every migrant with his family is over,” Malvika, who runs cloth and education business, said.
Without mincing words, she said his branding or associating his brother with any political outfit will be an injustice to his gesture.
“He prefers to keep himself out of the public glare. Whatever he’s doing, he is doing from his own inspiration rather than to achieve political goals,” she said.
Sonu’s grandfather Vidya Rattan Sood was also a known philanthropist.
Sonu Sood, 47, in a tweet on June 7 said, “My journey with my migrant brothers & sisters has been the most special one. It’s straight from the heart.
“Right from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari whenever anyone tried to reach me, I’ve put all my efforts to help them reunite with their families & will continue to do so.”
Appreciating his gesture, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has tweeted: “It fills me with immense pride whenever I read about my fellow Punjabis going beyond their call of duty to help those in need & this time it is our Moga boy Sonu Sood, who has been actively helping migrant workers by arranging for their food & transportation. Good work Sonu!”
Posting photos of the actor, Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore tweeted, “Punjab is proud of you Sonu Sood not just for your Bollywood fame but even more for the help extended to the stranded migrant workers in these difficult times.”
Moga resident and his neighbour Rakesh Khanna said the people in the town are proud of Sonu for bringing this town into limelight through his philanthropic spirit.
He said his parents wanted him to become an engineer. He did his engineering from Nagpur.
Sonu went to Mumbai for modelling and stayed with people in a one-room tenement.
“Besides having no godfather in the film industry, he established himself,” Khanna said.
The model, actor, a producer and a hotelier is grounded too.
“Whenever Sonu is in his hometown, you can see him riding on his scooter of his college days. He also prefers to spend time in his father’s shop located in the main market,” Khanna said.
Sonu started his career with the Tamil film, Kallazhgar, in 1999. He entered the Hindi filmdom in 2002 with Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh.
“In true sense, Sonu’s revolutionary passion matches that of Bhagat Singh. This is the spirit of being a Punjabi, truly an inspiration,” added another resident Deepak Sharma.
–IANS, VISHAL GULATI