MUMBAI—He made his debut in the 2002 flop “Shaheed-E-Azam Bhagat Singh” in the title-role. Since then, Sonu Sood has had a mixed innings where his performances were always acclaimed, even when his films bombed. Sood also made his mark as a versatile actor, come villainy (“Dabangg”), comedy (“Singh Is Kinng”) and more.
The actor staged a coup when he signed “Kung-Fu Yoga” with Jackie Chan, and later developed a rare friendship with the iconic action man. As director Stanley Tong told him, “After the film releases, you will be the most famous Indian name in China!” And Sood actually asked him, “Could you please repeat that?” Before that, Sood decided to take over the distribution of the film in India.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: You have made a debut as a distributor. What was the main intention behind this move?
A: I wanted to do justice to what this film demanded, because so many films get lost with poor release strategies. Someone has to take care of a movie like it is your own. I thought that if I come on board, I can do something this film deserves and it will be in safe hands.
Q: How was the experience and especially the fact that you brought Jackie Chan to India?
A: It was tough because I am not a studio with 300 people working for me! But it was a learning experience. Besides, taking him on “The Kapil Sharma Show” and making him sit on a cycle were really special moments. When he left, Jackie held my hands and said that it had been a great trip. He had been traveling around the world but the India leg was pretty special, he said.
Q: He was here only for 12 hours!
A: Yes, I wanted him for more days, and wanted to take him to more towns. But due to his prior commitments it was not possible. Even now, he was originally to fly off the next morning. But that was no longer possible and so I had to drive him around myself to make sure things happened on time.
Q: He came across as a very humble, sporting and endearing man on the show.
A: He is exactly like that in real life.
Q: What is the difference between his kind of action and what you do over here?
A: They execute three or four punches in the time it takes for us to hit one! They are so light on their feet, and so smooth from the waist and shoulders. I was training with Jackie’s son in Beijing for over seven months in minus ten degrees Celsius and I found that the team was so dedicated. Even between shots they would chat about their work. To develop that rhythm in action as second nature, an hour or two in the gym is not enough – you have to keep pushing yourself. Over there, even the cameraman and their chaiwalla (tea vendors) know the moves – it’s in their blood!
And the idea is to ensure that you do not hurt your co-actor during shots and defend yourself as well. After the shoot was over, Jackie told me, “I was glad to work with you, but your blows hurt a lot!” (Laughs) Maybe it is the Punjabi blood in me, but I would have liked not to hurt him.
Q: Would you like to integrate what you learnt there into a film here?
A: “Kung Fu Yoga” was like a school. Every moment was precious. Every moment had so much to learn. On paper, the car chases, the jumping from one car to another – they were all nicely written, but to execute it all was a big challenge. But Stanley Tong is one of the best – he made it so easy.
Q: The big Q: How did you get the film? You spoke about receiving a message at the press-con.
A: Well, I received a WhatsApp from his production house. They had done their research on Indian actors. So I thought, “Is this true?” and “Why me?” and later, they told me that they were going through Indian names and my name remained on top of the list! Later, I told my father about it, and he was so proud. He is not there today, sadly, to see the film releasing, but I am sure his blessings are with me as I also turn distributor.
Q: How much of a Jackie fan are you in real life?
A: (Laughs) Though they don’t work now, I have so many videocassettes of his work. On the flight to Beijing, among the choice of movies in-flight, there was one of Jackie and Stanley. And I thought, I am going there to meet them and work with them!
Q: There was some “surprise” with Salman Khan that was never announced finally. Is it a film?
A: (Laughs) No, there is no film the two of them, or all of us, are doing together. Tomorrow is another day – who knows? (Smiles) Such a film would be huge, and would require humongous arrangements. Do you know that for Jackie’s day visit here, the preparations took two or three months? I have never received or sent so many emails in my life! So all this was a learning process.
Q: So what was the Salman Khan story?
A: They are both so similar - gentle guys who are HUGE stars. Salman wanted to meet him, so he cancelled a part of that day’s “Tubelight” shoot to meet Jackie. I told Jackie how Salman and I had done “Dabangg” and about the fights in the film between our characters. I told Jackie about “Sultan” and Salman asked him how he could so such action for so many years when his knees and elbows still hurt from that time. Jackie’s answer was,” I love doing it.” The meeting was about sharing such special memories with each other. I think that the fact that they were both so humble made them connect so well.
Q: Finally, is the lion in the film for real?
A: He is; he belongs to the Prince of Dubai! But except for a few real shots, the rest, like the shot in the car, are all computer generated images (CGI).