Sonam Kapoor often grabs headlines for her impeccable sense of style. This year, her role in Neerja (a film based on late Pan Am flight attendant Neerja Bhanot) was appreciated by critics and audiences alike. But little is known about the actor’s involvement with social initiatives. This aspect came to the fore last week, when Sonam visited a city-based hospital, where she interacted with children suffering from malnutrition.
“If you’re born into privilege, it’s your duty to give back [to society]. That’s basically why I’ve been dedicating a lot of my time towards the causes I believe in. To be associated with an NGO that is working towards eradicating malnutrition is a step in that direction. We can build hospitals, toilets and schools, or propagate feminism, but at the end of the day, if we do not feed our kids and they do not have food, then everything is in vain,” says the actor.
The 31-year-old was recently roped in by two non-profit organisations, both of which work with underprivileged children. One helps kids who suffer from malnutrition, and the other collaborates with hospitals to treat kids who have cancer. “When you’re hungry and fighting for food, then every other cause you’re fighting for becomes irrelevant. You first need to survive. Only then can you do other things. A lot of hospitals offer cancer treatment to underprivileged children. But the treatment, even though it is free of cost, doesn’t work on them because they are so malnourished. What is the point of the free treatment when they don’t have the energy to utilise it?” she adds.
As a celebrity, Sonam wants to use her popularity to “give publicity to certain causes”. “It is my responsibility to use my celebrity status for a good cause. I believe I should pay it forward. I am a concerned Indian citizen, and I believe in humanity. I think working towards these things is very important. In fact, you don’t have to be a celebrity to do that. You can be anybody,” says Sonam.
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She doesn’t want to just be the face of these non-profit organisations. Sonam also makes sure she spends time with the patients. For instance, she has been actively involved with the cancer hospital’s treatment plans. “We can live in an ivory tower and give support and money, or tweet or talk about it, but if we don’t know what’s going on at the ground level, then there’s no point. Your efforts become more effective when you’re actually involved and know what’s going on,” she asserts.
While Sonam’s focus is on a hunger-free and cancer-free India, she says she will also “work towards promoting education and literacy”. “Many of the issues that our country faces are a result of the lack of education. So, my focus is mostly on education and hunger,” she adds.
When asked if she would like to promote the social causes through her films, Sonam says she wants to tell stories that make an impact. However, she is quick to add that she is not running “a campaign”. “I am not a politician; I’m an artiste. So, if I was a politician, I would say, ‘Yes, my campaign will create change in a certain way.’ But I use my celebrity status to affect change. As an artiste, I just hope to paint a true picture of what is going on. I hope to showcase stories that could tell people how they can evolve and grow.”