MUMBAI: Actor Sonu Sood, who transformed from a reel-to-real hero for thousands of migrants as he helped them reach home during the lockdown and even find jobs through his charitable initiatives, says his memoir "I Am No Messiah" is his way of chronicling the experiences of the masses when life came to a standstill courtesy the coronavirus pandemic.
Sood was catapulted to national fame as he came forward to help stranded and jobless migrants during the over two-month-long lockdown from March 25, 2020, as the country's poor poured out of cities and took to highways to reach their home, sometimes covering the journey of thousand miles on foot.
Moved by their plight, Sood and his team launched an initiative to help these workers in Mumbai and different parts of the country.
He also introduced Pravasi Rojgar app for job seekers and launched e-rickshaws to the underprivileged.
Looking back, the "Dabangg" star said, his interactions with the people changed the way he looked at life and inspired the memoir, which he has penned with Meena K Iyer.
"It (lockdown) changed my outlook towards life. I will always remember 2020 as a year when we all tried to be the best versions of ourselves. It (memoir) was my way of capturing those moments for posterity. The memoir is extremely special. Right from the time when I began penning down my experiences to the time when it released a while back, every moment has been special," Sood told PTI in an interview.
Published by Penguin Random House India, "I Am No Messiah" recounts the emotional and often challenging journeys the 47-year-old actor undertook along with the people he helped.
According to the actor's team, Sood has helped around one lakh people from Mumbai, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and other states to reach their homes, besides providing assistance to those needing medical help and employment.
The actor, who has previously played villain in films such as 'Dabangg', 'Simmba', 'R Rajkumar' and 'Arundhati', feels overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and being called a superhero and messiah.
"I truly believe that I am no messiah. My parents have always taught me the importance of helping others and I was simply following their advice," he said, adding, he zeroed in on the title of 'no messiah' for his book to reiterate the point.
Reflecting on the year gone by that saw the pandemic affect people from all walks of life, Sood said the poor suffered the most.
"So many migrant labourers had to take to the streets because they had no other way of reaching their homes. Children belonging to underprivileged families in rural areas do not have any access to education currently because they don't own smartphones. I believe it is our duty to extend a helping hand to those in need in any way possible."
Sood, who came to Mumbai from Moga, Punjab in the late 1990s, said he will continue to help people as much as he possible.
"My parents have always told me that with success and privilege comes responsibility. I am always going to remember their words. The year was a reality check for us. It taught us to put others before us and to keep our families closer to us than ever. Going ahead, I hope we continue to be kind and compassionate beings."
While Sood was praised for his charitable endeavours, he also had many detractors doubting his motivations.
The actor, however, said the love he received overshadowed the hate and trolling.
"The power of love is very strong. No kind of negativity has bogged me down," he said.
In 2021, the actor has a busy film slate to look forward to in 'Prithvira', where he will star alongside Akshay Kumar and former Miss World Manushi Chhillar.
In south, he has two Telugu movies coming up - 'Acharya' with veteran star Chiranjeevi and romantic-comedy 'Alludu Adhurs'.