His mother was an English lecturer at DM College, Moga and she would never take fee from underprivileged students who would come home for tuition and his dad used to organize free langars outside his shop. “When I came to Mumbai, I came on a train without a reservation. During my engineering days in Nagpur, I used to travel in buses and trains without reservation. I have been in a similar situation. 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 says.
The Indian actor has sent back 18-20,000 migrant people (who were walking several kilometres back home following the national shutdown due to the Covid 19 situation) by arranging transport and food for them. The population on foot along with their families, elders and kids in tow, was walking for days at a stretch. Sonu, who had first opened out his hotel to help medical staff attending to Covid 19 patients decided to do something about this vulnerable population as well.
“What triggered me was the visuals of those I saw – of families and families walking home with their kids in tow. A dad telling his child ke Bihar abhi aa jayega ( that Bihar will arrive soon). I didn’t want those kids to grow up with these memories of their parents and them walking back home. I had only thought that I won’t make them walk. The first group I spoke to was 350 migrants from Karnataka and arranged transport for them. Then the news and the work spread – Bihar, UP, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand etc and as we speak about 18-20,000 people have reached home.” It started out as one initiative but many of his friends joined in. “My friend Niti Goel helped me with the food drive. We now have a toll free number for people to call and get help. I have about 50-60 volunteers and my whole staff including my chartered accountants are helping me streamline the process. The whole process is challenging and the journey is tough but this initiative is the most important part of my life and I wont rest till I send the last migrant home. I work for 20 hours a day and I wish there 30 hours,” he says.
Sonu cites his own upbringing and parents for the reason of him reaching out.
What is touching is, there are families who want to name their kids ‘Sonu Sood’ after and when he protests, they tell him there will be more children in the world named after him. While his friends in the film industry are lauding him for his efforts, his close friend and Bollywood film director Farah Khan helped him by sending thousands of bottles of drinking water for the migrants. Sonu also rescued 117 women stranded in Kerala by arranging an airlift to their native Odisha.