Sonu Sood has hit a purple patch in Telugu films. He wants staying power and is willing to look beyond negative roles

There was a time when model-turned-actors from the Hindi film industry came to Hyderabad, acted in a handful of Telugu films in negative roles and made a neat sum of money but would cringe at the thought of talking about the films back in Mumbai. Barring a few blockbuster films, they would maintain silence and confess in private that the movies defied logic and were not apt to be mentioned as part of their portfolios. There are others who made wise choices and were part of memorable films. Sonu Sood belongs to the second category of actors. He feels regional film industries are a minefield. “There is so much explore in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada industries,” he says.

Sonu is happy with his career in Telugu cinema and has reasons to feel proud of his work. Recently, his work in Uu Kodathara Ulikki Padathara (UKUP) and Julayi was appreciated and the actor stood his ground against larger-than-life heroes such as Balakrishna and Allu Arjun.

“It feels fabulous when people call and tell me that they can’t imagine anyone else doing my role in Julayi,” says Sonu. This fabulous feeling is a result of making careful choices. His market value in the Telugu industry soared soon after Arundhati and he was flooded with offers. “So far, I have done around 15 films in Telugu but would have turned down at least 50,” he says. And some of those he turned down include well known directors and production houses. “Some of the roles were repetitive. I shared my reservations with those directors and they understood. It took some time but people understood that money can’t buy me. I’d rather be part of good films,” he says.

Talk to him about sharing the screen with Balakrishna in UKUP and Sonu says he was at ease acting with the senior actor. “It was my first film with him and he was a chilled out person to work with,” says Sonu.

Next, watch out for Sonu Sood in Shootout at Wadala and Prabhu Deva’s next Hindi film, which is a remake of Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana. “I haven’t signed on any Telugu film as of now but I am listening to a lot of scripts. I’d like to have staying power so I am taking my time to choose my films,” he says.

For that staying power, Sonu will have to do a tightrope walk to ensure he doesn’t get typecast in negative roles. “Yes, many a time I have been offered hero roles in Telugu. It would be fabulous to do a solo lead but the script has to be terrific. It’s not going to be easy for a Hindi actor to be accepted as a hero in the south,” he says. Has any script excited him to take the plunge? “Bellamkonda Suresh expressed interest to cast me as a hero in one of his films. The script is being worked upon. Let’s see if we find a good script,” he concludes.