Even as India sees Sonu Sood as a hero today, he cemented his place in Bollywood with Salman Khan's Dabangg in 2009. His character, Chhedi Singh, was a menacing villain but had a unique comical shade to it. Speaking on India Today e-Mind Rocks 2020, Sonu Sood revealed that it was in fact his idea to add that comedy streak to the character. And even though Salman Khan wasn't entirely convinced, Sonu pushed him, and the rest is history.
Sonu said, "I almost said no to Dabangg. Abhinav Kashyap told me that he has written this role of Chhedi Singh for me, and I told him I don't like this role. I told him I will be a part of this film only if you let me rewrite my role. So I added a bit of a comedy streak in the character and said you can run it by Salman. But when Salman heard it he didn't like the comedy angle. He said, 'Sonu you are a tough guy and if you do comedy the whole scene will go.' So I enacted a scene in front of him, and he smiled after it, but he was still not convinced. So then I said, 'Salman if you can laugh, the whole country will laugh at it too. Finally, when the first trial of the film happened at Film City, Salman came to me and told me 'Sonu you were right. Chhedi Singh has worked.' So my writing skill also helped me conceive the character."
Dabangg, the first film of the Dabangg franchise gave us the colourful Chulbul Pandey, as well as Chhedi Singh. While Chulbul Pandey returned with two more instalments, Sonu didn't reprise his role in the following films. But, off screen, Salman and Sonu have remained friends. Sharing an anecdote about how Salman set him up for an arm-wrestling competition, Sonu said, "Back when we were shooting for Dabangg, during a CCL match in Visakhapatnam, Salman Khan called the personal trainer of this South Indian actor who was there with us and challenged him to arm wrestle with me. This guy was a big-built man, 7-footer. There were a lot of industry people present around and as soon as Salman said that everybody just gathered around us waiting to watch the match. I was like 'Salman, why don't you do it? Why are you putting me in this situation?' But anyway, I somehow manage to defeat him, and the whole industry was clapping and cheering for me."
Sonu also recalled landing his first big break in a Tamil film and how it was entirely because he was so strictly into fitness. "My first big break was for a Tamil film. I remember I went to the sets wearing cargo pants and a T-shirt and met the producer. He asked me to go wait in the makeup room and later came in with the director. And then he asked me to remove my T-shirt and said 'Good physique, you will be a part of this movie'. So because I was into fitness, I got my first break," he said."
For a while now, Sonu has been boxed into stereotypical roles - read villain roles. But the Simmba actor is hopeful that things will now change, and soon. "A lot of scripts I have been pitched recently gives me hope that I will finally get to play the characters that I have always wanted to play. Maybe soon, you will get to see a very different Sonu Sood on reel-life as well," Sonu added.
For a man who has emerged a hero in the last few months, helping migrant workers get home during the novel coronavirus pandemic, building apps for these workers to find suitable work for themselves and even authoring a book about his experience, he certainly deserves all that and more.