Keen to guide Bollywood hopefuls, Sonu to launch centre that will train aspiring actors and technicians free of cost
Sonu Sood. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Sonu Sood had the same story that countless aspiring actors do — he came to Mumbai in 1998 with Rs 5,500 in his pocket, shared matchbox apartments with other strugglers, and auditioned endlessly. The difference is that his story met a happy ending, with the actor establishing himself firmly in Hindi cinema. While many have romanticised this struggle, Sood — having experienced it first-hand — knows the agony it brings. That’s why Sood, after helping many during the pandemic, is now set to launch a one-stop centre of sorts in Mumbai for aspiring actors and technicians who come from underprivileged backgrounds. “I am planning to start [a centre] so that they don’t have to struggle in the film industry. We’ll have free specialised courses for them,” he begins.
The blueprint, he says, is simple. Those hoping to get a foot in the door in Bollywood will be trained in acting or technical courses at the centre, free of cost, thus upskilling them. “I have seen people who come to Mumbai and cannot survive. I will join hands with acting and film schools, so that they can provide acting classes, camera training and other technical workshops. The students can come on the sets and watch the shoot to know about the on-ground process. [I want to give them] access to locations, shoots and workshops that a newcomer cannot get otherwise. It is for people hailing from small towns and cities who cannot afford [such exposure]. We will have a thorough screening process in place to ensure that only the truly needy [are given the benefits].” The actor’s team has begun the groundwork, and hopes to open the centre by October-November. Aspirants can contact the team through social media, Sood’s skill development centres across India, or his NGO, the Sood Charity Foundation.
One of the biggest hurdles for struggling artistes in Mumbai is getting accommodation. The actor says that the centre will play a role in arranging accommodation. “When I came to Mumbai, I didn’t have anybody to guide me. If you give the [aspiring artistes] a direction, they have more confidence to stay in the city. It’s important to guide them. There are sharks who take advantage of the innocent. It’s important to counter that. Now, I can [streamline] the process, and help people who come here with big dreams.”