Updated: July 31, 2021 9:24:14 am
“When I came to Mumbai, I came on a train and had no reservation. When I was doing my engineering in Nagpur, I used to travel in buses and trains without reservation. When I saw those migrants walking on roads, with their kids, elders, those were the most disturbing visuals of my life. I decided I am not going to sit at home and crib about it”.
No points for guessing who said this. Actor Sonu Sood emerged as the messiah for migrant workers in 2020, when they had to head back home overnight, with no transport available after PM Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to curb Covid-19 cases in the country.
Having started his career with Tamil films, Sonu Sood entered Bollywood with Shaheed-E-Azam, and backed it up with projects like Jodhaa Akbar, Aashiq Banaya Aapne, Dabangg, Paltan and Simmba among more. While many other stars came forward to help the distressed last year, no one touched lives like him.. What made him connect with the migrants, one may ask?
Well, for the actor, it was his mother‘s teaching that showed him the way. Sharing that his mother used to teach kids free of cost and dad organised langars outside his shop, Sonu said that he grew up with those values in Punjab. “My mother used to says that ‘if you can’t help anyone then don’t consider yourself successful’. My background, the values my parents imbibed in me are the reason I am doing this,” he told Indian Express in an interview last year.
Talking about his struggle before he became a star, Malvika Sood Sachar, Sonu’s youngest sister who lives in Moga, said that her brother’s countless journeys home from cities where he struggled to make a career and travelled in general compartments to save money, possibly helped him understand the pain of migrants better than the others.
“When my brother was an engineering student in Nagpur, he would travel back home sleeping on the floor in vacant small spaces near toilets in the train compartments. Our father would send him money, but he would just try to save whatever he could. He always valued our father’s hard work. When he was struggling to begin his modelling career in Mumbai, he lived in rooms where there wasn’t even an inch of space to toss and turn while sleeping. He would have to stand up to turn sides…there was no space. Maybe that’s why now he can understand the pain of migrants, that longing and helplessness to just reach home,” Sonu’s sister said.
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She went on to add, “He never shared this with us, but after his first movie released, and he came home and said, ‘Aaj main seat pe baithke aaya hu, bada achha lag raha hai (I came home on a seat today, really felt good)’. It was then he told us that he used to spread a sheet of paper on floor in train and travel sitting there.”
According to Malvika, her brother was deeply attached to their parents and whatever he does is to “make them proud”. She added that he misses them so much that he wants to keep their teachings alive.
In another interview with TOI, Sonu Sood opened up about his journey and shared that he came to Mumbai with the hope of starting a career in films and was okay to get back if things didn’t work out. “When someone comes to Mumbai, he or she is clueless about how this city works. I came here for just a year. I thought agar nahi hua toh ek saal baad chala jaaonga (if nothing happens in a year, I will go back. It took me 18 months to just figure out the roads and buildings that mattered).”
Being an outsider in the industry, the actor also shared how he used to live with close to a dozen guys crammed in one BHK when he moved to the city.
From struggling to find a roof on his head to helping hundreds reach the comfort of their homes, here’s raising a toast to birthday boy Sonu Sood.
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