Television actor and first runner-up of Salman Khan's controversial reality show Bigg Boss 17, Abhishek Kumar says he's not upset about winning the trophy as he has won people's hearts. While Munawar Faruqui won the season, Ankita Lokhande, Mannara Chopra and Arun Mashetty were the other finalists. In an exclusive interview with The Free Press Journal after the grand finale of the show in the wee hours on Monday (January 29), Abhishek recalled his journey inside the house and the lessons he learned from the show.
Reacting to the love and appreciation he has been receiving from his fans, Abhishek gushes, "When I entered the show, I really thought that I would win. The reason I participated in this season was to win. In the very first week, I came to know that Munawar has a huge fan following, but I didn't feel any of the contestants had the qualities of a winner. Even now, right before I started giving this interview, people came to me and told me that I was deserving. Sunn ke kaafi accha lag raha hai."
He adds, "However, I am not disappointed at all. With God's blessings, I've reached here and I'm so grateful for that. The most important thing is that I have won the hearts of millions of people. Trophies will come and go but making a place in people's hearts is the biggest accomplishment."
Abhishek says some of his qualities helped him distinguish himself from the other contestants and this also helped him secure a place in the finals. He explains, "From the beginning I was very real and I always tried to maintain that, no matter what. All my words and actions mirrored the sentiments in my heart. I made sure I treated my co-contestants equally and viewed none as a bigger celebrity or a lesser participant. I never thought 'Arey ye toh ladki hai' and treated her differently. I behaved in the same way with everyone as we all were in the same competition and were fighting for the same trophy. Throughout the show, I followed one thing which was 'If you're here to play the game, it should be done equally'. So these things worked in my favour, I believe."
Bigg Boss 17 has been full of surprises and Abhishek received the biggest one when her ex-girlfriend Isha Malaviya's 'current' boyfriend, Samarth Jurel, entered the show as a wildcard contestant. Abhishek always maintained that he had feelings for Isha even after they broke up and on seeing Samarth, Abhishek had the biggest breakdown. He cried inconsolably and also suffered a panic attack. Recalling that time, Abhishek says, "It was very difficult for me but I quickly overcame it. However, I prefer not to talk about it now."
Abhishek further reveals how he maintained his authenticity and stayed true to himself in the high-pressure environment. "I was not at all conscious of my image or how my actions will be portrayed outside to the audience. I did what I felt and again I would like to mention that I was very real. Banti tab bhi theek, bigadti tab bhi thik. But by God's grace, I'm seeing that my public image or reputation has improved positively. My actions indeed contributed to a favourable image in the eyes of the audience. I also came to know that more than girls, their mothers liked me (laughs). Their blessings were also with me. And if such mature women are understanding me and my intentions then definitely they must have seen something good in me," he avers.
The actor shares that his connection with Munawar had a significant impact on his journey. Praising the winner, Abhishek says, "We both supported each other during difficult times in the house and that bond between us will forever be. I will make sure we remain friends even outside the Bigg Boss house."
Abhishek mentions that participating in Bigg Boss has been one of the best decisions of his life and it has changed him as an individual. "I observed that mentally I'm very strong. I always believed that I'm emotionally and mentally very weak. I faced so many difficulties while being inside the house but now I'm glad to say that those things didn't break me. Main toota hi nahi. I told my mother also that I'm not a kid anymore and I've grown up to be a strong individual," he signs off.