Sonu Sood’s journey from being an engineer to an entertainer is inspiring. The handsome hunk kick-started his career in the entertainment industry with South Indian films. After making a mark in Tollywood, Sonu Sood made his big Bollywood debut with Shaheed-E-Azam, as Bhagat Singh in 2002. Almost two decades in the industry and Sonu has proved his mettle as an actor with some blockbuster films like Dabangg, Simbaa, Happy New Year and Entertainment among others.
Cementing his place in B-town wasn’t a cakewalk for the actor! In a recent interview with TOI, Sonu opened up about his journey, ups and downs and his choice of films.
Talking about his days of struggle in the industry, Sonu said, “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. It took me 18 months to just figure out the roads and buildings that mattered.”
“Initially, I used to live in a rented house. One BHK tha, but often, there would be a dozen of us crammed in. Outsiders face a lot of difficulties.”
“As a producer, I am accessible to strugglers because mere paas koi nahi tha. Even if you enter my society, you won’t find a barrage of security guards stopping you. My doors were and are open to people even today. Even after becoming a known face, I have remained accessible to others because that keeps me grounded,” he added.
“Today, aspirants can email their pictures to agents and things can move ahead from there. It wasn’t so systematic in those days. Two decades ago, we would go from office-to-office handing out our pictures in the hope of getting work. I remember that at the first office that I went to, the receptionist did not even look at me. She just asked me to keep my photos and leave. I would roam around in fitted T-shirts, thinking body dekh ke hi sahi, koi cast kar lega. Then I realised, all these tricks don’t work. I learnt the art of making small talk and would start with asking for a glass of water. On some days, I’ve had to drink 40 glasses of water. Even though I wasn’t getting a chance, I decided to stick around. I’ve earned my place in the industry with a lot of hard work and there’s no alternative for that,” the actor further added.
Sonu Sood has shared the screen space with Bollywood A-listers like Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan as well. When asked if he ever felt insecure about other actors, Sonu said, “I had never thought that I will achieve what I have today. In fact, in my mind, I was clear, ‘Engineer hoon, papa ka business join karke wahin kuch kar loonga.’ Main Moga sheher ka aam ladka tha, maine kabhi nahi socha tha ek din Jackie Chan ke saath kandhe se kandha milake kaam karunga. Things like these are usually out of bounds for people like us. Now that I am here, I just have to work hard and make every single day count. So, there’s no reason to feel insecure.”
Sonu also opened up about his rumored fallout with Salman Khan after the rejected Dabangg 2.
“You’re right. People thought that refusing Dabangg 2 changed our equation, but that isn’t the truth. In fact, my bond with him became even stronger. He respects the fact that I told him that I wasn’t convinced about the role that was offered to me. We are professionals and we respect each other’s creative calls. It’s better to offend someone at the outset than to suffer and bicker later,” he said.
“If you simply give your nod to avoid offending someone, it will not make you happy. Once a banner, which was high on my wish-list, sent me a script. I was overjoyed, but when I read it, it didn’t excite me. I sent it back with a bunch of flowers and a heartfelt note. For a moment, I thought what if they never offer me another film, but it’s always better to say what you feel. I have never done something that I wasn’t sure about. Yes, there were times when I have walked on a set and felt that this wasn’t what I thought it would be, but such instances have been very few,” he explained.
Sharing his take on Souht Indian films and Bollywood, Sonu said, “It’s a matter of timing. There have been times when I have shot simultaneously for films in Hindi as well as South Indian languages, but the release plan sometimes makes it look like I had to take a long break from one to dedicate time to the other. Yes, films from the South have helped me choose my movies wisely in Bollywood. I am not in a space where I have to take on just about anything that comes my way.”
He also said, “Today, I can afford to wait for roles that excite me; South films have created that cushion for me. When you don’t have work, you’re forced to take on projects even if your heart isn’t in it. But if you have a buffer, you can afford to turn down projects. Even the filmmakers have respected my decisions and my honesty.”
Opening up about his choice of films Sonu said, “My decisions have always been dominated by the roles offered to me. At one time, all the roles in the films with Akshay, Shah Rukh and Salman excited me. It was a coincidence that they came my way in quick succession. After that, not everything offered to me in recent years has excited me. I also haven’t seen a film, which makes me feel, ‘I wish I had done it’.”
“Looking at the equations I share with Akshay, Salman and SRK, I know they will call me if they think I fit into one of their films. Every year after that phase, I did something new. I worked with Rohit Shetty and Jackie Chan. I produced Tutak Tutak Tutiya. I am glad I could do that. If you are seen in every film, you will become a blind-spot, and there won’t be anything about you that will stand out,” he added.
Talking about the current status of his filmography, Sonu Sood said, “I’ve always believed in prioritizing things. Last year, my focus was Simmba, which was appreciated. In my 20-year career, there have always been phases when South films become a priority and the same holds true for Bollywood films, too. After Simmba, I signed some very interesting projects down South.”
“At the moment, my team and I are planning the PV Sindhu biopic. We have a new climax, in which we have recorded her recent win at the BWF World Championship. I’m also prepping to play Pullela Gopichand (former Indian badminton player and Sindhu’s coach). We are discussing a few scripts that we’ll produce; I will act in some of them. Things are moving at a relatively easy pace,” he added.
Sonu Sood’s journey in Bollywood has been a roller-coaster ride but the way he has marked his spot in the B-town is truly inspiring! Kudos to you, Sonu!