Sonu Sood, Actor

Sonu Sood, Actor

Asit Dixit and Umesh Patil |
February 19, 2019

“But I feel ki jo apan 1.5 crore soch rahe hain it should be at least 2.5 (but I feel that the price 1.5 crore you have quoted, it should be at least 2.5).”

In a career spanning two decades, he has mostly played a villain in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi movies, such as Dabang, Jodha Akbar, Singh Is King and Arundhati, to name a few. But the Moga-born model-cum-actor is no less popular than any Bollywood star. With more than 11 lakh followers on Twitter, about 25 lakh on Facebook and more than 20 lakh on Instagram, Sonu Sood enjoys an iconic status among his fans, if popularity on social media is any measure. The FitIndia campaign ambassador also commands a high fee which villainy seldom fetches to actors. We met Sood at his residence in Oshiwara in Andheri West, Mumbai.

As we apprise him of our objective, we tell him our PR agency is tasked with the promotion of BJP on social media in the run-up to 2019 elections. The party can hire you as their brand ambassador, but it will hit your credibility as an independent stake holder, we say. Appreciating this nuanced approach to the image building exercise for the BJP, Sood says, “[Yes, they would say] That’s why he is talking. He is not [a] neutral person that we are talking about, yeah.” What you have to do is appreciate the good work done so far by the BJP government on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Since you are a celebrity what you would say would carry credibility among the people. Sood cannot agree more on this point as he says, “Toh ismein kuch haqeeqat hai ([Yes, they think] There is some truth in it).”

Picking up Swach Bharat Abhiyan as an example, we tell him he can write about how the trash has given way to cleanliness all around since the government launched the programme. So, you can observe the positive changes it has brought about when you visit some places and write about them. Agreeing, Sood says, “Yahan par roads ban gai hain saari saaf suthri jageh dikhne lagi (Here roads have been built and spaces are looking spic and span).” But it is not necessary for you to visit a place for this purpose, we say, to observe such changes. “Nahi main obviously samajh gayaa that is what you know that is how we promote things main nahi bhi jaata toh main bolta ki yaar (No, obviously I understand it. That is what, you know, that is how we promote things. I don’t visit a place but still say [something about it]),” observes the actor. Giving an example of himself being the FitIndia Ambassador, Sood says, “Basically the thing… now I am just giving an example. For example, I am the FitIndia Ambassador toh main agar boloonga ki ye khao fit raho aur exercise karo toh log kahenge ki haan yaar fit rehna zaroori hai kyonki ye sahi bol raha hai. Ek do log hain jo mujhe pata hai kuch-kuch Congress ke liye karte hain. Meri pehchaan waale log hain wo bahut under the belt hain, bahut under the belt hain … Mujhe lagta hai ki yaar thoda sa lagta hai ki ye plug in kiye huye log hain aur they try to talk against BJP or some party or some… and if you smartly tell … good about or good work that is done somewhere (Basically the thing… now I am just giving an example. For example, I am the FitIndia Ambassador. So if I say eat this or that to stay fit, people would sure think that staying fit is essential because this fellow is telling us. I know some people who do something on similar lines for Congress. They do it under the belt… I think they are plugged in and they try to talk against BJP or some party or some… and if you smartly tell … good about or good work that is done somewhere).” But cautioning him we tell him to not mention the BJP or NDA and never speak of schemes which have failed. Talk about only those schemes or good works which have been a success. “Right,” says Sood.

It is essential to maintain secrecy to maintain your credibility, we reiterate. Swearing to secrecy, Sood observes, “Hundred percent wo hee tabhi credibility rahegi jise secrecy pata chal gai through your tweets through your actions or through your voice then the job is waste tab toh khatm ho gaya fir expose ho gaya wo ussi ka ho gaya (Hundred percent. Only then does credibility remain. If secrecy is blown through your tweets, through your actions or through your voice, then the job is [a] waste. Then it is over, you are exposed).”

Hope the agenda is clear to you and if you have any doubt you may please ask us to clarify, we say. “Nahi, nahi, bilkul nahi. I got the point (No, no, not at all. I got the point),” Sood returns categorically.

Now, coming to his fee, we tell him he would be provided five topics every month on which he will have to write on his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, in all 15 messages. There will be an eight-month contract. Give us an idea about your fee, we say. He gives us a circuitous answer before quoting the price he charges for his services, “It’s a contractual thing not something ... so we get minimum five and half lakhs for a single tweet… toh basically sab kuch contractual wo corporate ka rehta hai depending on jo jiska genre hai (so basically everything is contractual from those corporate depending on their genre), which is the minimum thing but that has nothing to do with any party, that has nothing to do with any controversy.” This is what he claims he gets from his corporate clients.

You see you will have to post 15 messages every month and we will pay you Rs. 1.5 crore at the rate of Rs. 10 lakh per message. But Sood is not happy at the offer. Claiming that his posts will be best, he says, “Main aapko bataoon directly … since agar main aapse aise baat kar raha hoon dekho mera aisa maanana hai ki hum na main seriously karoonga paanch bhi ho sakte hain saat bhi ho sakte hain my messages will be very very strong and nice main usmein koshish karenge ki paanch nahi bole aaj chaar hee karein hain ek kisi aur ne kiya maine repeat karke uska jawaab de diya for example theek hai toh wo sab karenge main ek aadh ka but I feel ki jo apan 1.5 crore soch rahe hain it should be at least 2.5 (Let me tell you directly … Since if I am talking to you … you see I think I shall work seriously. There can be five or seven [posts/tweets]. My messages will be very, very strong and nice. If I say I will do only four not five on a given day … I will repeat something written by somebody else, for example, and I will add my answer to it. Is that okay? I will do all that … but I feel that the price 1.5 crore you have quoted, it should be at least 2.5).” The reason for him to charge us such an exorbitant fee is, in his words, “Yeah because I want counted.”

We get into bargaining mode with the actor, now. Let us keep it Rs. 2 crore a month, we say, for first three months, after which we will increase depending upon the response we get on your messages. Digging his heels in, Sood says, “Nahi aapko response kee koi tension hee nahi hai mujhe pataa hai na mera sikka bahut … main bahut alag hoon bhai (No, you don’t have to take any tension with regard to response. I know how big a currency I am … I am made of a different stuff brother).” So, we agree to pay him Rs. 2.50 crore a month.

After his fee is settled, we ask him how much cash he can adjust. Surprisingly, Sood has no problem in accepting cash as he says, “Main kar sakta hoon maximum … 10–12 (I can accept maximum … 10–12).” So, out of Rs. 20 crore to be paid to him in a span of coming eight months, the actor would take Rs. 10–12 crore in cash. This cash component comes to 60 percent of the payment. We ask him if he could accept 80 percent of his fee in cash. He has no problem with that, either, as he says, “Aap mujhe ek din dijiye main eighty ke andar poochhata hoon kal raat main aapko bata doonga (Give me a day’s time to check if 80 [percent] can be accepted [in cash]. I will get back to you by tomorrow evening).” He further adds to make a revelation about his film trade, “Ye hum log karte hain na bhai hum log karte na bahut. Hum South kee picturein karte hain. Main abhi picture karke aaya hoon wo usmein pahunch jaata hai humari mutual ek understanding hai (We people do this. I work in South Indian movies. I have done a picture recently. That [cash] reaches us. We have a mutual understanding).”

Before wrapping up the interview, with both parties arriving at an understanding, we ask the actor if our agenda is clear to him. We also ask him if he has any problem accepting 80 percent of his fee in cash. “Right,” he nods in agreement.

Like some of his tribe, Sood was so much eager to smell the scent of money that barely a fortnight after the interview he would message our reporter on WhatsApp to ask on the status of the deal. After three messages, as we apparently chose to not reply, his desperation came out. To quote his one such message verbatim, “Bro. Why I have a feeling that what we all discussed was all talks.”

But we were able to assuage him giving him some credible alibis for not showing up. The actor even made three tweets to show us he is serious about the job. In one such tweet he praises Prime Minister Narendra Modi for starting the FitIndia campaign.

In yet another Tweet, the actor retweeted a tweet of Union Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore throwing a challenge at actor Hritik Roshan.

All these chats and tweets are self-evident.

We had e-mailed a questionnaire to all these celebs to know what they would like to say on what we have revealed in our story. Click here to read the answers.

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