Abhinav Shukla on his surprise eviction from Bigg Boss 14, differences with contestants and rooting for wife Rubina Dilaik
“I was a little upset because I was so close to the finale, but the best part is that my fans didn’t vote me out,” says Abhinav Shukla, who entered Bigg Boss 14 with much less popularity and a smaller fan base compared to other contestants.
Ahead of the Bigg Boss 14 finale, Abhinav Shukla, considered one of the strongest contenders, was ousted from the house during a surprise mid-week elimination. His elimination angered his faithful fans and even his colleagues from the television industry.
“I was a little upset because I was so close to the finale but the best part is that my fans didn’t vote me out,” says Shukla, who entered the reality show with much less popularity and a smaller fan base compared to other contestants.
Someone who played the game with dignity and tried to stay away from controversies even at the cost of being called uninteresting and boring gradually started to find a place in the heart of audiences. As of now, Shukla is busy cheering for his wife Rubina Dilaik's win.
Excerpts from a chat with the film and television actor:
Your eviction was quite shocking, you were voted out when it appeared that you had started feeling confident about the game and even reaching the finale...
Of course, I felt I could win because we have seen some non-controversial contestants win the show in the past. Last couple of weeks before I got evicted I was doing self-evaluation and self-analysis. I am an engineer, so I often do that in certain situations and I felt I was doing well. But you have to understand that I got evicted based on the decision of three people – Jasmin Bhasin, Vindu Dara Singh and Jaan Kumar Sanu. I didn’t get voted out because of the nation saying that I was not interesting. So I feel in my case the question is still there about how I would have been placed among these six or seven people. Now I obviously won’t get the chance to do that evaluation.
Many believed you were not made for this controversial show; you even admitted this yourself. However, your journey in the Bigg Boss house was surprisingly a long one. What is your takeaway from being a part of the show?
Bigg Boss is all about how well you take humiliation from your fellow contestants. It is about how you survive humiliation and that humiliation would be of all sorts. People will push the button and how you react to it, how patiently you handle it and how you give it back is what will define your journey in Bigg Boss. As a survivor I know when I am going inside all I need to do is observe first, then I will start giving reactions because I don’t know. I wasn’t a fan of Bigg Boss, I was a fan of the format but not the show. I never watched the episodes so I had no clue how I would perform inside. All I knew was that I have to be real because that is the essence of a reality show, you have to be real and real means take time to observe then start reacting and that is what exactly I did. I reacted; I adapted and finished the journey in 130 days. Yes, I took humiliation and a lot of other things which won’t happen in real life but it happened here. The learning is now I am much more patient with criticism, or people doubting my intentions. I am now more open to confrontation, arguments and debates.
What was the most difficult moment for you in the house?
The most difficult time was when the Rakhi (Sawant) incident happened. When everybody was appreciating that she is very entertaining and I knew that she had crossed the boundaries and made me very uncomfortable. I realised that her entertainment is at the expense of my dignity, my respect. I even said that if this is the kind of entertainment she is going to do then I don’t want to be part of it. I even said that I am happy to leave the show. I won’t subscribe to the kind of entertainment that hurts someone, that mocked someone. It was for the first time that somebody hurt me. I went inside the house like an idealist; I didn’t want zabardasti ka entertainment (forced entertainment).
Rakhi kept saying that our interaction is one-sided. She told me you don’t have to do it and I told her to do what you want to as long as people laugh to lighten the atmosphere. Every comedian knows it, all entertainers know that whenever you joke and do humour you have to be very careful because there is a very thin line where you can hurt someone, or make someone laugh. It was never my intention to take advantage of it and since there was no intention it never showed on the show. In fact, in one of the initial Weekend Ka Vaar episodes when she was hurt and Khan saab (show host Salman Khan) said that you make fun of her English, you make fun of her clothing and stuff, I literally felt bad. This was unfair on our part that we are making fun of someone who doesn’t have enough clothes and in fact I wanted to help her with whatever I can. But it’s okay, these are the lessons which you learn. I was very clear that no matter how much pressure is built on me that I am not entertaining, I am boring... this was my real test. I had to be myself and I am very happy about that.
What do you have to say about yours and Rubina's fan clubs alleging both of you are targeted unnecessarily by host Salman Khan?
See, all I will say is that somebody is spending a lot of energy on you, trying to tell you what is wrong and what is right, then maybe they like you and have hope in you that these are the people who should go ahead. I took it in a very positive way. If you take it in a negative way your morale goes down and you end up sulking. Khan saab is not a contestant, he is there to give you feedback that this is the dayraa (boundary) and you have to stay within that. If someone is telling me the mistakes I am making then that is the best feedback I can ever get.
Viewers of the show have said that you and Rubina should have entered the show as individuals and not a couple. Did you feel any pressure because you were inside the house with your wife as a team?
Now when I look in retrospect there are both sides to it. Had we gone individual it would have been much easier because you won’t care much if somebody is fighting with you or abusing you. But when your loved one is abused then you get affected so much. But what has also helped us going together is that after this show both of us have come out really strong. We both are in a stronger relationship now than when we had entered, our bond has become stronger. We saw so many fights but we had no option but to watch each other’s back, the show has really helped us. So I see it as a blessing in disguise.
Some of your fellow contestants, particularly Rahul Vaidya have said you should get evicted and only after that would Rubina's solo game be seen.
Rahul Vaidya can see her game in the finale (Laughs). It is an irony, or can we say co-incidence, that the guy (Vaidya) who said had Aly (Goni) been there then he wouldn’t have quit and gone home, the same person who was saying that he needs Aly’s support and he is nothing without Aly, wants to see Rubina’s game without me being around.
What led to the differences with Rahul and what is your opinion of him?
I think it started when he said that Rubina had superiority complex. But otherwise he is playing it smart, but along with smartness comes a lot of insecurity. He is very insecure and when you are insecure you make mistakes. He came across as a very insecure person in a lot of tasks and interactions that we had. But he can debate, he talks clearly, he can be logical but the point is he tries too hard and can be a turn off.
In spite of your differences with Rubina and Jasmin, you seemed to have bonded well with the latter. Your dynamic with Jasmin even led Aly to observe that you were the "most important person to her" on the show, yet she was the one who voted you out.
Look, I only want to say that I don’t know Jasmin. I am not saying who Jasmin is. It is to cut a long story short and it is the best reply I can give that I really don’t know her. The most ironic part is the people (Bhasin and Sanu) who voted me out, were earlier voted out by public voting for not giving enough content to the show. Well, this is part of the game, I had to take it in my stride.
What is your opinion of Eijaz Khan, and Devoleena Bhattacharjee who entered the show as his proxy?
Eijaz is a wonderful guy outside but inside the house I couldn’t connect to him. I have known him not as a friend but we have camped out together many times. We would discuss nature, environment, he is a well read guy. I find him nice outside. I think Devoleena is very emotional and that probably comes from her past. I was a little quick to judge her but yes anyone will judge her because this is a show about judgement. Audience will judge you, people will judge you. I found her impulsive, quick to get angry..
Salman had once asked all contestants if they were doing things on the show just to create content or whether it was reality. What is your take on this?
Look, whatever we are doing inside the house, even if I am sleeping and eating an apple, it is content. You have to be real and not do anything desperate. I feel beyond the fifth or the sixth week everybody’s personality is out in the open. Whoever remains in the show beyond fourth or the fifth week has to become real because then the real personality comes out in the show and for people to see. You can't fake it for so long. So yes everything which is happening is real emotions, people are crying is real. I was quick to judge Devoleena when she did that scene, that emotional outburst..Rahul Mahajan had a little chat session with her how and why it happened and that was the time I said, 'You can have a perspective..she might be like this of whatever happened in the past so who are we to say that she shouldn’t be doing it'. I am a curious guy..I wanted to know why she was behaving like this and Rahul Mahajan solved it for me.
Are you watching the show? What do you think of Rakhi sacrificing Rs 14 lakh from the winning amount to become a finalist?
I just saw that portion where Rubina and Jasmin are fighting and I turned it off. There were a lot of calls and interviews happening so I didn’t find the time to watch. Now I will sit and watch the episodes in chronology. And I don’t want to comment on whether Rakhi was right or wrong in sacrificing Rs 14 lakh. But, of course, that task will reveal those who think they will win or they will lose.
So who would you stay in touch with?
Definitely Rahul Mahajan. He was the best thing in the entire show. The best part about Rahul Mahajan is that he talks sense, it has a lot of depth. I will also stay in touch with Sara Gurpal, Naina (Singh), Shardul (Pandit). I like Aly, he is nice and grounded but I was put off by his statement that he made to Rahul (Vaidya) that when Rubina burst out crying after my eviction, he separated us or else we would get sympathy votes from the audience. I don’t approve of such tactics in a game. I don’t know if we will ever have a discussion or not.
What in your opinion did the entry of challengers bring to the show?
Their entry brought a new perspective to the show, or while playing the tasks..obviously arguments and fights increased. Of course, Rakhi’s initial bit was entertaining. Arshi was entertaining when she was near eviction. New flavour was added by challengers. Rahul Mahajan was definitely the best..the best dialogues came from him. He rightly said that you can achieve anything in this world but it all depends how much you are ready to spend for it. Now what is that you have to spend – it can be your money, your energy, your dignity, your honour, your sleep.. I have become his fan.
After coming out of the house you must have seen Rubina’s popularity and the kind of fandom she enjoys.
Yes, hats off to her. She is on it. I may not be able to give her my inputs or suggestions anymore but now that is not needed. I told her when I was leaving that play the way you have been playing.
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