'Ek ghante ke andar humare paas 78,000 calls aaye.'
Actor Sonu Sood became a saviour for migrant workers when he helped them get home during the nationwide lockdown.
Neha Dhupia all about it in the fifth season of her chat show, No Filter With Neha, exclaiming, "There was a time when we were sending 7,000, 8,000 people in a single day!"
On how he helped people reach their homes
I remember when we saw those visuals of all those migrants, you know, walking in millions, across the country.
I think everyone was disturbed by seeing those visuals and I remember when we were giving food to almost 45,000 people every day.
There's a place in Thane called Kalwa Chowk jahan par hum log khana de rahe the and I saw a group of people walking with little kids -- ek mahine ka, do mahine ke bacche ke saath and I asked, 'Kahan jaa rahe hai?'
They said we are going to Karnataka.
'Dus din lagenge aap 10 din ka khana de sakte ho aap humein?'
Toh maine kahan, 'Dus din?'
Can I try to get some permissions for you to go back, kahe ki nahi sir hoga nahi, aisa possible nahi hai. So maine kaise bhi convince karke hum logon ne usko ek jagah pe roka aur maine wahan se seedha police station gaya aur maine bola ki ' Sir, mujhe guidelines chahiye.'
I had to call for the guidelines of Maharashtra, maine Karnataka ki saari guidelines nikali.
Then I started making a road map.
Maine uss din pura din ghumke saari permissions nikali aur first time, maine agle din mein 350 logon ko Karnataka bheja.
When they all left for Karnataka, I was in the bus and you know, they had tears in the eyes and smiles on the faces.
They said 'ki hume laga ke hum log shayad marr jate yahan par, aur woh chale gaye wahan par aur jab main wapas aa raha tha, toh Thane se leke Andheri tak sirf migrants hi migrants hai road pe, bridges ke niche baithe, sab log baithe the.
Mujhe laga ki humare films mein har cheez slow motion ho jati hai, mujhe waise hi visuals dikhe ki yeh log woh hai jo paidal chalne ke liye taiyaar hai. I need to stop this.
Aur phir maine har state wise bola ke logo ko bhejna hai aur phir maine Orissa, Jharkand, Uttarakhand, UP, Bihar, MP, aisi koi state nahi chodi jahan par logo ko nahi bheja.
On when he received 78,000 calls an hour on his toll-free number
When we started this thing, we started on my own.
Mujhe nahi pata tha ki main itne logo ko bhejne wala hoon, but jaise jaise log badhne shuru hue, 350 logo ne alag kisi logo number diya ki Sonu Sood hai woh bhej dega.
In two-three days, my phone was ringing nonstop and I realised ki yeh kaise hoga kaise, inn logon ki jo ummedein hai, the kind of expectation they have from me, how am I going to live up to that?
I was literally living at the police stations aur sab offices mein rehta tha aur kaisi agar UP ki aap baat karein itne hazaro districts hai aap baat kare Gonda, Pratapgarh, Basti, Bihar, hare ek office ke ADM, DM unke bhi mere paas number the, yahan ke har states ke bhare pade the. Maine apne chartered accountants ko bulaya aur bola yaar tu ek kaam kar yeh lists banana shuru kar.
There's a very close friend of mine, her name is Neeti. Maine bola ki 'Neeti, ek kaam kar, yeh bada hota jaa raha ha, isko kaise sambhalenge?'
Toh usne ek apna dost pakda IT ka, maine bola ki hum ek aisa IVR ka system banaege jahan pe hazaro calls aa sake phir maine ek toll-free number banaya.
Ek ghante ke andar humare paas 78,000 calls aaye. 78,000!
But jab woh migrants ke liye maine woh toll-free number banaya toh usmein humare paas 1.5 days ke andar almost in 37-38 hours 7.5 lakh requests the from Punjab, Kashmir se leke Kanyakumari tak, har jagah par log phase hue hai, dhabaon pe phse hue hai, petrol pumps pe phase hue hai ke Sir hum yahan pe baithe hue hai -- Sonepat pe dhabe pe, hum log yahan pe 150 log hai sir, hume UP ke andar Basti mein jana hai, bataiye ab kaise jaenge.
Maine bola ruk, main bhejta hoon.
Dheere dheere jab log judne shuru hue, aap raatko so nahi sakte the, saari raat phone bajta tha aur mujhe pata hai ki main police station mein hi baithe rehte the har jagah, aap chair pe bhi baithte hai, you used to feel scared yaa ki things sanitised hai ki nahi?
I was on the road for 16-17 hours and I remember Wadala was a red zone, sabse zyada infected tha kyuki Dharavi wahan pe padta hai, main har rooz jane lag gaya tha wahan pe. Mujhe aise lagne lag gaya tha ki shayad main rehta hi inke bich mein hoon, mujhe lagta tha shayad yeh hi mera part hai, main jata tha ek police station ke paas 6,000 log khade hue hai, intezaar kar rahe hai kab unka train ka number aaye, jaise mujhe dekhte the they used to rush towards me ke sir dekhiye chota sa bacha hai mere hath mein, saat din ka bacha hai mujeh ghar bhej dijiye and you can't say no to that person.
Aap ki icha hoti hai ki aap isko gaadi mein bithao aur aap isko UP mein Bihar mein chodke aao. Main bolta hai kin ahi nahi rukiye, main karta hoon. Hum log buses lekar aate the wahan pe.
I don't know anyone by face.
Main koi nahi jaanta ki kon aadmi kaisa hai. Sab mere liye 200 log UP ke 250 log UP ke. Jab aap aate ho toh unke sath 500 log aur khade hote hai and they say ki hume bhi jana hai.
I don't know ki mere wale kaunse log hai and you know we load them in the buses jo bahar kade rehte the.
Sir aapne humko bulaya tha, hum jane wale the, yeh log kaun ghus gaye? Agar hum unko niche aane bolenge, Sir aap aa jaye niche toh bolta tha ki dekhiye mera bacha hai main kahan jaunga, aap mujhe jane dijiye.
So, you were so helpless ki yaar, inko kaise bheju?
Main bolta tha ki yaar don't worry, aap niche aa jaye, I'm getting more buses aur 50 buses bulate the, par unki permissions kahan se aayegi? But, I was in touch with every single district, every single bureaucrat, every single clerk in the office of every single state. Main bolta tha ki boss 2500 log aur khade hue hai 3 ghante mein mujhe permissions lani hai and kuch karta hoon.
They used to click a picture of the email sent from senior PI to DCP office, maine teen ghante mein un 2,500 logo ki permissions nikali aur un logo ko bheja. And it was like a thing ki pura desh aapke liye bol raha hai unko ghar bhejo but bhejoge kaise?
But I think there was some force that was helping me to make things happen aur phir log jaate gaye, trains maine shuru karwani shuru ki, ki trains, I remember I was talking to Delhi officers, Railways, unka yeh kehna tha ki jab normal aap shootings karte hai tab trains mil jati hai but ab pandemic hai ismein alag guidelines hai.
Trains nahi de sakte hai hum aapko.
Mujhe pata tha main ek train 2,500 log ko bhej sakta hoon, buses mujhe 100 karni padegi 2,500 logo ko bhejne ke liye. Badi mushkil se train ki permission nikali,
I spoke to Bihar, I spoke to UP, I spoke to Calcutta, harek state se main baatein karta tha aur vishwaas karo, kuch time mein 10-12 din mein aisa maahol ban gaya tha ki main ek phone karta tha bureaucrat, 'Aree Sonu ji kya haal hai, kaise hai aap?'
'Main kya sir, mere 2,000 log khade hue hai mujhe bhejna hai.'
'Sir main abhi line-up karke deta hoon permission.'
Permissions aa jati thi log jane shuru hue and there was a time when we were sending 7,000-8,000 people in a single day!
On the police's support
There was a huge support because they realised I was working continuously for them.
Mujhe woh bolte the ki 'Sonu aap aise kaam karte ho jaise aapki family travel kar rahi hai. Woh aapko jaante bhi nahi hai, Kamaal Hai'.
So they were like my team members ki yaar Sonu aap bhejo hum karte hai fatafat.
So I would say ki woh itna kamal ka mauhaal ban gaya tha, 'Sir, kal itne log aa rahe hai.'
'Haan Sonu bhai, aap tension mat lijiye, aap form bhejiye, sab fatafat karke bhejte hai.'
So I mean har roz challenges badalte jaa rahe, nayi nayi cheezein saamne aa rahi thi, guidelines badal rahi thi, States badal rahi thi, permissions cancel ho rahi thi.
But I think somehow we were able to manage and send all these people back to their homes.