Bollywood actor Sonu Sood describes Jackie Chan, one of the world’s most recognised faces and a martial arts superstar, as an “absolute legend”.
He should know.
The two filmed in Dubai for more than 30 days for the Indo-Chinese production Kung Fu Yoga.
“He’s a great guy and he’s one of the most humble actors I have come across. And I have worked with actors like Mr [Amitabh] Bachchan, Shah Rukh [Khan], Salman [Khan], and they are all nice. But Jackie Chan is that guy who would pick up glasses and bottles lying on the road or that guy who would help in picking up tents once the filming production is over. He doesn’t act like a star,” said Sood in an interview with tabloid! on Sunday.
We are at his suite at the Shangri-La hotel on Shaikh Zayed Road and just like the row of bags packed and stacked near the door, Sood’s carrying truckloads of fond memories with him as he wraps up his 37-day filming schedule in Dubai with Chan. Words such as “inspiration”, “humility” and “warmest person” spill out when Sood speaks about the Rush Hour star.
“I have learnt a lot from him. If he’s hosting a dinner, he will make sure that he goes up to everyone and inquire if they are having a good time or not. He has this quality where he will take over the whole space. When we go out for movie or dinner, everybody may be doing their own thing, but he comes in and connects the dots, makes links by chatting with everyone. He makes sure that everyone finishes their food and the conversation just happens,” said Sood. There were even times when an amiable Chan, one of the world’s top-paid actors, would even eat off his colleague’s plate and make them feel at ease.
The Indian actor, who has featured in hits such as Dabangg and Happy New Year, plans to return the goodwill when Chan visits India to film the remaining portions of Kung Fu Yoga by acting as his guide.
The Indo-Chinese venture, which is the result of a landmark co-production treaty between China and India in September 2014, is directed by Stanley Tong of Police Story fame. After calling it a wrap in Dubai on October 30, the Kung Fu Yoga crew will head to Beijing in December, followed by a shooting stint in Jodhpur in India’s northwestern state of Rajasthan.
“He has asked me to take care of him when he comes to India and I have promised that I will give him the most memorable experience of his life … It just takes you five minutes to see how sincere he is,” said Sood. He describes acting in a Chan film as a “dream come true”.
“I am a huge fan of Jackie Chan and I have seen the Police Story series so many times. I still remember buying those video cassettes and those DVDS. Imagine now I am working with an actor who was in it and a director who made Police Story. For me, life has come full circle. This guy from Punjab has fulfilled his dream,” said Sood.
His dream may have come true, but getting to this point has been difficult and paved with hard work. For instance, the picture of Sood on a horse in a desert wearing an ornate Indian tunic doing the rounds as a part of Kung Fu Yoga filming in Dubai may look jubilant, but it was a tough one to pull off.
“For that scene, I was sitting on a horse the whole day. It was difficult and your muscles get bruised, but when you are in front of a camera and it begins to roll, you just forget the pain, the heat and the stress. You are just in your character. And when you are surrounded by great people, you just learn to enjoy your work thoroughly,” said Sood.
Though he isn’t keen to reveal details of his role, Sood claims that he has a significant role to play in Kung Fu Yoga. He’s not a villain, but a worthy opponent to Chan in this film.
Actors such as Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Aamir Khan were earlier rumoured to have been roped in for this project. “There were many names — many of whom were superstars — who were considered for the role. When I asked the director and the team why they chose me, they said the director saw my profile, my pictures and how fit I was, that he became convinced that I was right for the part. They felt that I looked convincing as a guy who could hit Jackie and still bring about humour and present a larger-than-life image,” said Sood.
The high-octane car chase scenes filmed recently in Downtown Dubai sum up the spirit of the film. “We had fifty or sixty cars like Lamborghini, Bugatti, Maserati and Infiniti chasing each other at high speed. You name the car, it was there. I was driving a Hummer that rams into these cars. With the help of some superb action coordinators, we did it. This can only happen in Dubai, a dream city to work in,” said Sood.
He says Kung Fu Yoga has a slick, larger-than-life heroes and adrenalin-charged stunt scenes. But what made it all extra special was that Sood was returning to Dubai for work.
“Come to think of it, some of the most special films in my career were City Of Life and Happy New Year. For both these films, I stayed over a month in Dubai and just when I was thinking that I need one more film like that, that’s when Kung Fu Yoga happened.”