Sonu Sood, best known for his negative roles, has now emerged as a real-life hero. He has helped thousands of stranded migrants return to their homes.
How grave is the migrant crisis in Mumbai?
Migrants are looking for a means to return to their native place. More than 10,000 migrants are still stranded in Mumbai. I have sent around 35,000 people to their respective states so far.
What is your typical day like?
I am out on the field for almost 20 hours, finding out where they are, sending them food and making arrangements for their travel back home. I have not slept for the last four days. I just take a nap for half an hour when I get tired. Monsoon and cyclone could spell more trouble for the migrant workers. I have to ensure that they reach home safely. I wish I had 30 hours a day.
What motivates you to help them?
The smile on their faces makes my day. It makes me work harder.
How did you raise funds for the ‘Ghar Bhejo’ project?
‘Ghar Bhejo’ was started by my friend Niti Goel and me. Initially, we dipped into our savings. Now people are coming forward and pitching in.
How difficult has it been to get the paperwork done?
It was really hard to get the paperwork done. Besides getting permissions from the police and the district magistrate, one even had to get a fitness certificate from a registered medical practitioner initially. Now medical certificates are not required. Still the process involves a lot of paperwork and it is really tiring.
A man recently shared a video on Twitter and said, ‘You are no less than a God.’ Do you find it overwhelming?
I am so touched by people’s responses. I feel like my family has grown. Now I have near and dear ones in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and every part of the country.
One migrant named her boy Sonu Sood Srivasthav. That was very special. There is a man whom I helped reunite with his mother. She called me the other day. She kept crying and I was at a loss for words.
Rumours are rife that you will enter politics.
No. I don’t have any such intention. I am happy where I am now.
Does your family fear for your safety?
They are worried about me. But someone has to come forward and help these people. That’s what I tell them. I try to maintain social distancing and take all the precautions.