Bollywood actor Sonu Sood has been in the news ever since the pandemic broke out in March 2020. Right from helping migrant labourers reach their villages to amplifying covid-related requests on social media, Sood has been in the headlines for the right reasons.
In a conversation with Outlook’s Lachmi Deb Roy, the actor talks about how he has been staying in touch with the migrant labourers he helped during the first Covid-19 wave and his source of strength to tackle the pandemic. He also shares a heart-breaking anecdote of how he lost someone he was desperately trying to save and gives advice on how to stay strong during these grim times. Excerpts:
Q) Being the real-life hero that you are, you’re still constantly helping people tide over the pandemic. How is it going?
When I started helping migrants last year, I felt like I gained a new family. I have become very attached to all of them and they know that whenever they need me, I will be there for them.
When the second wave of the pandemic hit, many migrants whom I had helped earlier, reached out to me once again requesting me to help them and their relatives.
And since this time the requests have increased manifold, I felt like I have a huge responsibility towards the people of the country and I decided to step up efforts to help as many people as possible during the second wave.
The faith people have shown in me, gives me strength to help in relief work.
Q) What is the source of your motivation? What drives you?
The smile on people’s faces (once I am able to help them) drives me.
The hope and trust people across the country have in me, is what gives me my strength. There are many people, whom I have never met, but when they send me a ‘thank you’ note, it melts my heart.
I spend almost 20- 21 hours everyday trying to help people with resources like medicines and hospital beds.
I am also in constant touch with various healthcare workers across the country including top doctors and ward boys.
I feel it is my responsibility to use my fame and connections to help people and alleviate their suffering during this hour of need.
Q) You recently contracted Covid but that didn’t stop you from helping people…
Actually, when I was down with Covid, I got more time to help people. I was able to connect many patients with various hospitals to help them get treatment.
I had isolated myself at home and I had a lot of time on my hands because I had no one to meet and nothing to do.
It was then that I realised people needed me more than I needed myself.
When I was under quarantine, I made sure to attend all calls I received.
Q) When did you battle your toughest phase of the pandemic?
When I had tested positive, for three days I barely found any sleep because my phone was buzzing 24X7, with people asking me to help. And all those cases were emergency ones. That was my toughest phase.
There are still days when I sleep at 12.30 in the night and wake up at 2.00 am because I don’t have the heart to ignore calls requesting help.
Yesterday, I lost a lady whom I was trying to save. Her name was Bharti. I had helped air lift her from Nagpur to Hyderabad. She had been hospitalised for a month but she succumbed to the virus yesterday. I just wish I could have saved her somehow. The doctors had said that there was a lot of hope and that she was recovering but she died (sighs).
My heart goes out to every individual who is suffering and for their families.
Q) Indian Youth Congress chief Srinivas BV has been called ‘the Sonu Sood of today’ for the relief work he is currently carrying out. Your comments?
Srinivas is a great guy, who is doing a lot of good work by helping the common man. I just want to tell him, ‘keep the good work going, brother’. Individuals like him and all of us need to come together to save this nation.
Q) What advice would you give to people to help them stay strong during these trying times?
We need to take care of ourselves, we have to stay strong as only the fittest survive. We have to follow all Covid-related protocols including wearing masks, constantly sanitising our hands and staying away from crowded places.
We have to do this for our own safety and that of our families’. Sadly, we have lost many people to the second wave, especially many youngsters. Many families have been wiped off all at once.
So, it is very important to take care of your loved ones because once gone, they will never come back. So, I would request everyone to stay safe, especially for your families.