BANGALORE: A huge crowd, comprising mostly women, gathered at Bangalore Airport and Town Hall to receive Akul Balaji, the winner of Bigg Boss Season 2 who romped home with the prize money of Rs 50 lakh and an apartment worth the same amount.
Known as a popular TV anchor, Akul entered The Big Boss House three months ago, only to experience something new. "I have hosted so many TV shows, but only Bigg Boss let me be a contestant. Winning the game came as a pleasant surprise to me," he says.
Many thought that Srujan Lokesh had a better chance of winning the game. The finalists included Deepika Kammaiah and Shwetha Chengappa.
"Even I heard about it, but nothing was in our hands as the audience chose the winner. I realised that celebrity status does not work in a show like Bigg Boss. If that were the case, the contest would have been a cake walk for Harshika Poonacha. Even if I had two lakh followers, it wouldn't have helped me win. People have watched me for three long months to name me the winner. It is all in the game," says Akul.
"Being myself helped me win Bigg Boss," he further says. "In the house, I behaved the same way I would at my own home. Initially, when I entered the house, I tried to act like a TV anchor, but that got me into uncomfortable situations. Later, I started living as if I were a part of the family," he recollects.
"I cried, I laughed, I danced and I got angry, which is what happens to regular people in their daily lives. This is probably what helped me understand people better," he adds. Sudeep, the host of the show, kept his parting comments short and sweet, says Akul.
"'You deserve it. Cheers', he said. I was glad to learn that Telugu superstar Mahesh Babu knew about my being a finalist. I heard that Puneeth Rajkumar loved my interaction with director Guruprasad. In fact, his wife Ashwini called me and congratulated me," he reveals.
For Akul, winning Rs 50 lakh was not an easy task, and he says, "I know the value of money and so I want to spend on the right things." He plans to donate a little money to Niriksha, a school for mentally challenged kids.
"I often visit this school and all the children there know me well. They were excited when I entered Bigg Boss. In fact, I had told them that they would be in for a big surprise if I won. Now that the dream has come true, I would want to donate some money to this place," he says.
Akul wants to take a week off before he starts working on his pending projects.
Next on his schedule is the film Love On NH4 directed by Seeni, in which he plays the lead alongside Tilak. The actor has also signed up for the Devarawne Bidu Guru.
"Directors have been calling to ask when I will start with their films. I have asked for a week's time to be with my family," he signs off.