Sonu Sood is on cloud nine, and why not? The actor, who turned producer last year, is all set with his next release, the international film KungFu Yoga, which features superstar Jackie Chan. Sood, who is also handling the distribution and marketing of the film for its India release, talks to Rohini Nag Madnani about the film and much more
How were you approached for KungFu Yoga?
I was in Punjab and I got a text from the producers, saying we are making this film and we want you to see it and give us dates. I was somehow able to manage the schedule and we had a video conference very quickly. I was in Punjab at the time and everything fell in place.
Just like that?
Yes, people have agents and give auditions. The first time, I spoke to Stanley, the director, and he said he had watched Happy New Year and loved it. He said he loved my personality, that I am tall, and everything, and that’s why I got the role.
What was your first meeting with Jackie Chan like?
I first met Jackie Chan in Dubai for dinner. When we started our Dubai schedule, they had invited me to dinner and we spoke about a lot of things. He is a very humble. And when you have a great co-star with you, things are easy. We spent a great time together. A good seven years ago, I had said in an interview, Who knows, I will work with Jackie Chan.’ A friend of mine found that clip and we showed it to him and he was very happy to see it and asked me to give it to him. It was great shooting with him and we shot together in four different countries.
Can you tell us about your role in the film?
My character in the film is called ‘Rudolph’, a guy who believes that his ancestors in India actually own this treasure. Everyone, including me, is hunting for the treasure. My character believes the treasure belongs to him. The climax is about how everyone eventually is on the same page.
Do you think 2016 was a good year for you since you produced your first film then and also landed an international project?
The first quarter of the year was not good at all. I lost my dad. I had been contemplating opening a production house for a long time and I always wanted to open a banner in my dad’s name. So I opened a production house called Shakti Sagar, named after my dad. I think he worked magic because I never thought things would shape up so quickly. So I produced my first film Tutak Tutak Tutiya. Soon I got an offer for KungFu Yoga.
What is your involvement in the film’s India release?
All the promotions, distribution and creative aspects of the film for the India release are being handled by my company. Getting Jackie here and doing the press conference and also going to The Kapil Sharma Show-I took a call on all these things. I told Jackie that when he was in India, he would have to surrender himself to me, trust me and then watch the magic. That’s what he did and everything was very sorted.
People had pointed out that a lot of Hollywood studios come together to get a star and it is still difficult for them. They did ask me how I had managed that on my own. It all went very smoothly. He came here, we followed my plan, he sat in my car, drove in and around Mumbai. He was able to do everything. I think once you believe that you can achieve something, and it is meant to be, things proceed smoothly.
I had to get all the preparations right. When he was leaving for Beijing, he held my hand and said, ‘Thank you so much for making India so special for me.’ That was a big reward for me. He acknowledged my effort.
Jackie sir’s action is a different ball game. How difficult was it to match his style?
He is very quick. In India, we were doing all actual promotions. In Jackie’s film, it is called the ‘punch period’, where you have to be very quick and light on your feet. That was the technical part and I tried to incorporate that.
What was it like to work with Stanley sir? How different was it from working with Indian directors?
He is very humble, vocal and down-to-earth. He is a good listener. If you come up with a new idea, he will immediately incorporate it in the script. A director like Stanley makes you look good. That’s what he has done with my role as well.
What is the difference between working with an Indian director and a foreign director?
I think they are now on the same page in terms of homework and pre-production but there is a huge difference between Bollywood and Hollywood. That’s why their films are so big and rich.
You have worked in the industry for a long time and done many films. Since you have become a producer and also landed an international project, can we say that Sonu Sood has arrived?
I don’t know whether you can say that I have arrived. But I am a survivor and only survivors stay in the industry. It’s not only about achievers and what you have achieved in life. It’s all about how long you can hold your breath under water. I would say I have the confidence to hold my breath under water for long.
What’s next for you as an actor and as a producer?
As an actor, I am going to do a film down South. I have just completed a Chinese movie. Then there is something I want to produce, I’m still working on it. Once I’m done with the promotions of this film, I will start work. The plot has to be very interesting.
Will you produce a regional film, a Punjabi film, as you are from that region, or a South film because you’re well known there?
I am still looking for scripts and as soon I finalise something, I will let you know.
Will we see you in any Hollywood films or projects?
Fingers crossed, this film will open a lot of windows and will also garner a lot of revenue. Right now, I need to wait for the right films to come along and hope for the best.
What kind of release is the film looking for, distribution-wise… how many cinemas?
In India, we have 1,400-1,500 screens in four languages – English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.