'There was a man who wanted me to get him to a liquor shop.'
'I told that was not possible, but if, after downing several drinks, he needed help to return home, I could look into that.'
A lady who wants to go to a beauty parlour.
A child who wants his mother to meet his grandmother.
A man who wants to get to a liquor store.
These are some of the strange requests Sonu Sood has been getting on an hourly basis.
The man, who has taken on himself the responsibility of seeing thousands of wage-earning migrants return to their homes, turns 47 on July 30 and he laughs off these requests.
"They are part of the whole movement," he tells Subhash K Jha.
"There are youngsters who want to be with their girlfriend or boyfriend... I respond to them in a lighthearted manner to keep their spirits high. There's a bond I have formed with all these migrants. We have become a part of one big family."
How does Sonu's family feel about his passion for the migrants' home travel?
"You know, I get no time to spend with my wife and sons," he says. "Once in a while, my children come and hug me and grumble that I have no time for them. Sometimes, days pass before I am able to meet them."
"I am constantly monitoring all the travel plans of the migrants. But my family is my biggest support system. They know the importance of what I am doing. Every hour lost probably means a hundred more migrants unable to get home."
Does Sonu feel morally obligated to get these migrants home?
He thinks over that question before replying, "It's a promise from me to take them home. They trust me. They depend on me to reach them to their homes."
"If they are all set to walk or cycle to their homes thousands of miles away, and if I tell them to wait a day or two so I can arrange for their travel, they stay back."
"It then becomes my responsibility to get the necessary permissions and see to it that they get to their loved ones. So yes, it's a responsibility. But I am more than up for it."
The sense of satisfaction that comes to Sonu from helping these distressed migrants is beyond words.
"I've been a part of the film industry for 20 years and done about 100 films. But nothing I have done so far has given me this kind of inner peace and satisfaction," he says.
"I feel I migrated to Mumbai to be an actor so one day I could help these migrants. I feel this was something I was born to do. I feel blessed that God has chosen me for this mission," he adds.
Sonu never thought he would be a part of such a massive migratory movement some day.
"Thousands of people walking with little kids and elders... I never thought I would see this in my life. When it happened, I couldn't sit at home making videos and discussing digital content. I wanted to come forward and hold the hands of these distressed migrants and tell them, 'Boss, you are not alone, We are with you. You build our homes, offices and roads and you are the heartbeat of our country. There's no way I can let you down.' I promised them I would do my best to see them reach home."
What are the strangest travel requests Sonu has received?
"Well, there was a man who wanted me to get him to a liquor shop. I told that was not possible but if, after downing several drinks, he needed help to return home, I could look into that."
"Then, there was a couple grumbling that they could not stay locked down together anymore. I suggested they take a trip to Goa after the lockdown... I think that's what my wife and I need to do after this is over."