– Satyakam Ray
I am no Messiah – the book published by Penguin on Bollywood actor Sonu Sood’s generosity during the COVID-19 pandemic is a guiding stone on ethics and people skills. The badass silver-screen villain is a well-spoken, kind-hearted soul whose heart melts by seeing the unspoken hardship of the migrants or the patients suffering due to lack of oxygen. Such was the magnitude of his service during the pandemic that his stories of humanitarian work feature in the school texts of Andhra Pradesh as a lesson in ethics. He got the U.N. Development Programme’s S.D.G. Action Award for the same reason.
The question arises in the mind whether Sonu Sood is a messiah. The answer is probably yes. In Christianity, the messiah is used for someone holy who does godly work for needy persons and society. In Judaism, where the term was invented, a messiah is a worldly person who does remarkable service to humanity during distress. Messiah comes as a savior when there’s no hope for the victim. He’s like the last hope. If Sonu Sood is not the actual bodily incarnation of the mythical messiah, he’s one of the most respected humans among us.
Almost all religions use the concept of angels, who come as a ray of hope for the distressed. Their hearts are pure, full of love and generosity. The general people can also be an angel in a time of need. History is the witness of such events.
During the first lockdown in 2020, when all of India was locked inside their homes comfortably, lakhs of migrant laborers paid the price for the unplanned national event. Lack of money, food, employment, security, and communication forced these laborers to return to their native places by walking thousands of kilometers with their luggage and babies. The lack of clarity and ignorance made them do so on many occasions. Nevertheless, it was a human tragedy of mass migration, probably the biggest after the partition of India. Here enters the messiah Sonu Sood.
He could have sat in his comfortable apartment in Mumbai with his family and watched Ramayana as most Indian Households were busy doing. He chose to step out despite the fear of infecting himself with the coronavirus. While distributing food packets to the migrant laborers, he learned about the plight of returning home migrant workers. Despite trying hard to convince them to stay, Sonu Sood found no other option but to send them home safely. The buses were arranged, all the sanitation work was done quickly, and the group was dispatched in no time. Soon, the one-time “service” off work became a routine for Sonu Sood. He used other means of transport- the train and airplanes to send the migrant workers home. In the future, a case study on the “Ghar-bhejo” program done by Sonu Sood in the 1st wave must be inducted into the B-school curriculum.
Like Facebook and Twitter, his social media accounts became the hub for S.O.S. calls. The actor and his team graciously ensured nobody left unheeded. Some asked him strangely but with funny demands on Twitter. But the actor had a cheeky answer to such requests. The humane approach made him the Indian Santa Claus! Just by calls, video calls, and connections- the resources galvanized by the actor were phenomenal. In this initiative, many persons joined the Sonu Sood group directly or indirectly by listening to their inner voices. The chain of service includes many bureaucrats, doctors, hospitals, and celebrities who give their time to contribute to the cause. The volunteers shared their support in every possible way to help the actor. The actor’s late mother inspired the Sonu Sood Foundation. It is a unique philanthropy organization that helps those who need medical help and students pursue their educational goals by granting scholarships and coaching.
In the 2nd wave of the pandemic, the actor again started trending on Twitter for his work as an amplifier of the S.O.S. calls of the patients and his reach to help them find beds, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, or even lending money for the moratorium. The saga of service stories is endless. History will tell us how many people benefitted from a single person’s zeal and nobility. The patients who got cured or their relatives will tell you about the messiah they encountered in their lifetimes. People will remember him forever. One question pertains to the mind- if a single person can do all of these single-handedly with limited power and resources, what could the central govt do to alleviate the pain of the corona- victims with unlimited reach and absolute power?
As the actor is busy nowadays constructing hospitals with ample oxygen plants, many skeptics question the intention of Sonu Sood for his exemplary service. Many give their verdict on the same issue that the actor is interested in doing politics in the future, so this is his initial tactic. The actor laughs off such a silly accusation and stresses his intention of not joining politics. Many were in disbelief at the statement. But even if Sonu Sood comes to politics, that will be a welcome step in the otherwise crap we see today. If this is a Publicity stunt for his movies, it’s also okay. As long the actor is providing service selflessly, it’s okay if he gets nice ads for promotion and good movie roles in his career.
The recent tax evasion allegation and subsequent tax raids on the actors’ homes put a question mark on the person. Still, many questions are there to be answered. Until everything clears up, it’s essential to give the benefit of the doubt to the actor, as many claim the tax raids are vendettas against him. He is supposedly close to the A.A.P. party.
In many parts of the country, their fans have set up actor Amitabh Bachchan ji’s temples. Similarly, now actor Sonu Sood is being worshiped in one Indian village for his philanthropy work. Whether he’s a messiah, an angel, a noble human being, or just a tax evader, Sonu Sood will reside in every Indian heart for a very long time – that’s a fact. There is no need to honor the mortal, but if we imbibe some virtue and wisdom from him and act, that would be superb for humanity and India.