Leap of Faith - Sushant Singh

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Every actor craves for a challenging role. A role that requires months of preparation, hard work and dedication and in return, it will ensure that the actor be remembered as one of the greats of Indian cinema. Sushant Singh has found such a role and it is probably going to be the most challenging role of his life! But Sushant has not taken on this challenge to get his name etched on a cinematic wall of fame and he is not looking for nominations, accolades or awards. This role requires a leap of faith and a belief that together, we can do something to help heal the wounds of Uttarakhand…this role requires our support! Sushant has committed himself to help rehabilitate the people of Uttarakhand and together with the ‘Leap Foundation’ he is busy raising funds for this worthy cause. If you thought that asking for donations was easy then think again because that role comes with its own set of challenges – mistaken identity being one! Recently, Sushant contacted Tanaaz Irani to request her for a donation for the people of Uttarakhand. She mistook him for Sushant Singh Rajput and asked him if he remembered that they had worked together in a show. Now Sushant is not a professional who forgets the projects he has worked in but for once, he just could not remember working with Tanaaz. He went back to her asking if she was talking about a show called ‘Dhadkan’ on Sony but Tanaaz did not reply back! Confused and stumped, he racked his brains all night trying to remember the name of the show he might have done with her and finally, he asked me if I could help him name this mystery project!  Always up for a challenge, I figured he was running a contest and got down to some research but I just could not find any play, movie or serial that had both Sushant and Tanaaz in it! We figured that she must have mistaken him for ‘Rajput’ so Sushant contacted Tanaaz again and this time around, she accepted that she had clammed up once she realized that she had been chatting with Singh and not Rajput! It was this confusing and hilarious anecdote that led me to the ‘Leap Foundation’ and their brilliant efforts towards Uttarakhand. The situation in Uttarakhand remains critical and thousands of people have suffered unimaginable losses. “Well, we can sit in our living rooms and sympathize with the people of Uttarakhand or we can do our bit to help and I have decided to help” admits Sushant. Joining hands with the Leap Foundation, Sushant has taken on a role that will positively impact the lives of thousands of people – the role of reviving and rebuilding the spirit Uttarakhand.




TG: Please tell us a bit more about the Leap Foundation and how you got involved?

SS: I was introduced to ‘Leap Education’s Foundation’ through a friend – Akshay Rathi. Akshay had sent me an appeal by an organization called ‘Leap Education’ that is run by a gentleman called Mr. Anurag Sangal. This is based in Dehradun and Akshay used to be Mr. Sangal’s student at a time. When I went through the appeal, I found it very honest and I realized that Mr. Sangal had a long term vision. Leap’s focus is not just providing immediate relief to the people of Uttarakhand rather; the focus is on rehabilitating the people and providing them employment so that they can become self dependant in the future. Tourism has taken a huge hit and there will be no tourist activity in the region for the next 3 years, so how will these people earn a living? I felt that Mr. Sangal had a grand vision and I decided to commit myself to the cause completely. The first thing I did was to send in my donation to Mr. Sangal because if I am going to ask people to donate money…then I need to put my money where my mouth is! Akshay went to Mr. Sangal and suggested that it might be a good idea to use my name and face to create an awareness for the foundation. So my idea was that we could prepare a small promo where I could tell people about the cause and make an appeal to help raise funds. Akshay and his family own cinema halls in Central India so he talked to Qube Media and UFO Digital – two of the largest companies that run all the projection systems in the country and he was able to get us 7,000 screens for 6 months, completely free of cost! Instead of a promo we made slides that are projected like adverts before a movie starts. Akshay is taking care of all the costs for the publicity, printing of the slides etc. We will not touch the money that is being donated for any such work because that money belongs to the survivors of Uttarakhand. So that is how I got involved with the Leap Foundation.



TG: This is such a serious cause and you have your work cut out for you. You must be learning so much through all this?

SS: Oh yes! It has been a learning experience! I am realizing that I have some hidden talents, realizing what people really are behind the mask and also realizing that there are so many good people amongst us! I go through bad days and then something will happen that will restore my faith in humanity. You know, I have only read this in books – if you start out with a good intention then you will meet good people and positive things will happen. I never believed in all that but for the past 15 days…this has actually been happening to me! I meet good people every single day and it is just fantastic!





TG: The last time we spoke you had mentioned that you can never be sure that the money you donate will reach the people who need it the most and a lot of people don’t donate because they feel the same…

SS: You know if I want things to change then I have to be the change. I was getting sick of sitting in my living room and talking about change. Every single day I get phone calls from one NGO or the other – education, save the girl child and each call puts me in a dilemma because I want to help but I don’t know whether my help will reach the people who actually need it. And then I realized that there must be so many people out there who must be going through the same dilemma. People take me to be an honest guy so if I have found an honest foundation then I want to use my goodwill and credibility to help generate the trust for that foundation. I believe that the people in Leap will put their heart and soul into rehabilitating the survivors of Uttarakhand so I have invested myself to this cause completely. I am aware that a lot of people…including close friends, must be thinking that I am doing this for money or for publicity etc. Honestly speaking…my fate, my credibility is attached with this foundation and I am aware that if there is even one small slip…I will be the first one to go down! I know everyone will come after me but it is a risk I am willing to take because I have faith in the work we are doing! I know that we are on the right track and I know that all the people involved with Leap are in it for the people of Uttarakhand.



TG: Can you tell us a bit about the work that you have been doing with Leap?

SS: At the moment, we have not started our work actively because we don’t want to jump in the field without a solid plan. Mr. Sangal has been able to arrange a few trucks of supply to be sent but, the real work will begin the moment we get road access. We are working on a Blueprint plan and I have been building a good network of people who will be able to help. So, I have been in touch with the people who were involved in the relief work during the Oklahoma disaster. Our first plan of action is to build a community center because it has been raining, people have no homes and the ground is too unstable to start rebuilding homes. Secondly, we need to build a medical facility so people can start getting the right medical care. Once it stops raining, we have to start rebuilding homes. So we are working on a long term actionable plan. I am getting in touch with corporations because people in Uttarakhand need jobs so if I can convince 10 companies to employ and absorb 500 people…it means that 500 families will be taken care of. We are completely charged up and by the time we get road access, we will have a complete Blueprint ready on how we can start rehabilitating the survivors. This is not something that will begin in one month and it is definitely not something that will be completed in 3 months! I know that Mr. Sangal, Akshay Rathi and I, are completely committed to doing whatever it takes for this cause. I will be there till the objectives have been achieved and I have made this promise to my family and to myself! You know even my wife was unsure and she kept asking me if I understood just how big a commitment this really is. I am in this now and if need be, every month, I’ll go wherever the work is. Our foundation has pledged to publish the accounts on the website every two weeks. So people will be able to see how their funds are being put to use. Our goal is to be completely transparent.



TG: What has been your main focus in the foundation so far?

SS: Right now I am focusing on raising funds. When a tragedy occurs, people feel moved and they donate money towards the cause…it is unfortunate but true.  So I need to strike while the iron is hot and appeal to people to donate funds. As you can see, the media covered Uttarakhand for a week or two and now it is completely out of the news. Do you know that even now, at least 150 villages are completely cut off? I know this because I am in touch with people who are working on ground zero. I have contacts who have put me through to the army people and mountaineers who are involved in the rescue work. There have been so many occasions where the relief has not reached the people and to think that Uttarakhand is not in the news anymore…it is shocking! So we have to act fast and raise as much money as we can and I am concentrating on that. I cannot air drop supplies and I cannot go there without any sort of a plan. The army is taking care of getting supplies to the people and I know that other NGO’s are helping out with supplies as well. So we are moving in the right direction but I have to my bit and at the moment…my bit is to raise funds.



TG: Appealing for money…asking for donations…is it easy?

SS: No…no it is not easy at all! You know, just day before yesterday I got really depressed. Apart from the Leap Foundation, I am also working with another organization for Uttarakhand. So we were in a meeting and people could not agree on something, everyone started arguing and I was sitting there wondering what is going on? I was thinking that I have invested myself completely to this cause and if I can’t do my bit or make things work then how are we going to achieve our objectives? People in Uttarakhand are helpless but I am sure in their heart of hearts…they are hoping that they will receive the help and support from the entire country. We need to pull it together and help rebuild Uttarakhand! Luckily, the same day I met some fantastic people who pledged their support and it really restored my faith. It is not easy but it is becoming easier every single day and I am relying on a character to help me through all this…



TG: Which character is that?

SS: I am learning a lot from ‘Sukhdev’! He was extremely efficient, strong, and loyal and he was a very good organizer. You know, on the outset it may seem like we are just collecting money but we have such a huge task at hand! We are trying to restore, recover and repair the damage and this is damage is not just limited to physical structures…we are trying to help all those people recover from the mental and physical trauma of this catastrophe! This is not just about building homes…this is about rebuilding the human spirit. I have always maintained that Sukhdev will always be a part of me and believe me…I can feel him pushing me on!





The people of Uttarakhand need your support. If you would like to support the Leap Foundation and know more about their work towards rebuilding Uttarakhand please visit http://www.leapqualityeducation.com


Photo credit: Sushant Singh


©Tinsel Gupshup

amrita poonia
Jul 29, 2013

Jul 25, 2013
What an utterly heartwarming interview to read! Hats off to Sushant Singh. Once things are a bit more organized perhaps he could figure out an avenue for overseas donations as well?

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