Actor Sonu Sood calls this phase in his life as his “second innings”. The actor believes that after longing to play positive roles in reel life for so long, he is finally getting the right offers. Strangely though, the shift in his career came after his perspective towards life changed and it is no longer important for him to be seen in films. Sonu emerged as a Good Samaritan during the Covid-19 pandemic as he helped people reach their homes and also came to aid of those who lost their means of livelihood. He is now doing more philanthropic work and getting that sense of satisfaction and fulfilment, which he never achieved as an actor.
In a recent chat, the actor opened up about what success means to him now, why he has been doing more south Indian films and his newfound philosophy of ‘ab mujhko fark nahi padta‘…
Excerpts from the interview:
Can we call this phase in your life as a high point because you are more popular than ever?
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This is the best phase. I don’t know if it is a high or not, it is a phase where I feel blessed. I always thought that doing movies, being a part of Rs 100-200 crore film is something we call success, but connecting with the common man, connecting with the needy has been the most satisfying experience for me. So, this is something I’ve never experienced and I’m enjoying the most.
Are negative roles a thing of the past? Have things changed since you emerged as a philanthropist?
When I came to Mumbai, I wanted to play only positive roles, central roles. But when you’re not from the film background, you’re offered negative roles. You’re like, ‘mereko negative roles kyun offer kar raha hai?’. So, I used to get a little upset at times. But then you realise that you’re an actor and you have to entertain, whether you play a positive or a negative role. Sometimes people love you more than a hero in the movie, that also has happened.
You also realise how there is a section of you that has been unexplored. And, with the kind of roles that I am getting now, the kind of roles filmmakers are offering me, I want to give this phase of my life to these roles and explore myself. I am getting some very interesting scripts. This is a cutthroat industry, people don’t relish your success.
After that (his work during Covid-19 pandemic) I’ve not been offered a single negative role, I’ve only been getting positive roles, and it feels nice. There was one film that I was shooting, and they had to change a lot of things in the script and re-shoot sequences. They’d say, ‘public maaregi humein!’, so we have to do that. There was an actor who had to pull me by my collar and he was like ‘I won’t do it, people will abuse me for doing that to you!’ Earlier filmmakers wouldn’t be sure if people will even accept me in positive roles after doing a strong of negative roles. That also was a phase. It is a new innings for me.
When you are connected to people and their families, I think that’s what success is all about. Initially I’d be scared if I’d get work in films, if my films will work or not. Will certainly actors want to work with me or not. But the life that I’ve lived in the last two few years, it has completely changed my perspective. I have crossed over from my insecurities. Ab mujhe fark nahi padta (it doesn’t affect me anymore) if you want to work with me or not, if some actors feel insecure with me or not, people give me work or not. I have entered my comfortable space which I enjoy, every moment of it. When I step out of my house still 200-300 people come to meet me and I love spending time with them.
When you said that how people treat this you in the industry doesn’t affect you. Did your experience of working on Manikarnika not affect you?
I’ve never bad-mouthed Manikarnika. I’ve never spoken against anyone. Mujhe laga ki woh duniya thik nahi hai (it didn’t feel right), so I walked out. I never commented on that. There is one world where you go through good or bad experiences and you talk about it openly. But when it comes to me, I keep quiet, main shaant ho jaataa hoon (I go quiet). The process of shooting Manikarnika was fantastic but when it did not go anywhere from there, I withdrew. I knew I had to get off that train. It is not that I haven’t faced these issues, or that I won’t face these in the future, but such things shouldn’t affect you. But we have to keep going ahead… why waste your time on the negatives.
It is about survival, if you are not immunised you won’t survive. The sad part is, most of the industry, whether they know you or not, they don’t want you to be successful. Yeh sachaai hai, log chaahte nahi ke aap kaamyaab ho (People don’t want you to be successful, it is the truth that I’ve experienced).
I think it is in every profession, whether they know you or not, people don’t want to see others become successful. Woh kamyaab kaise ho gaya? Yeh sab duniya ka dastoor hai! (People question your success). And it is a sad part. I’ve always believed that success is about how long you survive, how long you hold your breath in the water.
Last few years we’d have loved seeing you do more Hindi films, but you did more Telugu and Tamil films, Aacharya being your last. Why?
I have always been choosy with my scripts, whether I do Tamil, Telugu or Hindi films. South saves me from not doing bad Hindi films. Otherwise there comes a phase when you think you’re doing a film just for the sake of being seen in a big film. South helps me from staying away from doing that.
However, I am doing both south as well as Hindi films. I remember how there was a time when I left a lot of Hindi films and did south Indian films. People were questioning that. But it is an experience that matters. It is about how much fun you’re having while working and how much experience you’re gaining. Mujhe fark nahi padta bhasha kya hai (I don’t get affected), there has to be entertainment, people should be entertained. You can be the biggest star, however successful, but if you take people for granted and still believe that they’ll go out, spend their hard-earned money to watch your film, woh daur jaa chuka hai (that time has passed). And it can be in any industry, not just Hindi films, south films also don’t do well if they aren’t good, it has always been like this. People now have more options, if this film is not good, they have another, a better one to watch.