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Actor Nani made his television debut as the host of the second season of Telugu Bigg Boss and said the experience introduced him to the real world.

The show ended on Sunday as Kaushal Manda, one of the most popular contestants, emerged as the winner and took home a cash prize of Rs5 million (Dh251,427).

Bigg Boss changed my view of the world. Before I joined the show as its host, I was living in a bubble. I believed the real world is a happy place. Bigg Boss made me realise that the world is made of all kinds of people, including some judgmental ones. It has introduced me to the real world,” Nani said.

As much as he enjoyed his association with the show, his stint earned him his share of bouquets and brickbats, especially from the supporters of Kaushal, known as Kaushal Army on social media.

“I’ve never dealt with so many hate messages in my life. This show made me realise you can’t please everyone in this world. There will always be some people who won’t like you and there’s nothing one can do about it,” he said, adding that working on Bigg Boss took a lot out of him.

“The last three months have been the most stressful phase of my career. Even when I was doing three films a year, I would somehow find two weeks to spend time with my family apart from the regular weekend breaks. But Bigg Boss took up more time than I had expected. On top of it, I also had to shoot for Devadas. It’s finally time to go on a much-needed holiday,” the actor said.

In Devadas, which hit the screens last week, Nani starred alongside Akkineni Nagarjuna for the first time.

“The initial idea of Devadas came from Bollywood writer Sridhar Raghavan. When Nag sir and I heard the idea, we felt it needed tweaking to suit local sensibilities,” Nani said.

“We wanted the film to be neither too commercial nor too realistic,” said Nani, adding that director Sriram Adittya was roped in and handed over the responsibility of developing Raghavan’s idea into a full-fledged script. “That’s how Devadas got rolling.”

On the experience of working with Nagarjuna, someone Nani grew up idolising, he said: “It felt so surreal to stand next to him and act.”

“I grew up watching his movies. There have been instances where he would step out of a caravan and walk towards me and all I could think of was standing in a long queue to watch the first day show of his Ninne Pelladata. This memory kept flashing in my mind,” Nani said.

Nani didn’t have any qualms about doing a film with another major star.

“I don’t consider myself an image-driven actor. I believe audiences come to watch my films because they are entertaining and not because of my image. Having grown up idolising Nagarjuna sir, I couldn’t refuse an offer to work with him. I’m glad he had no qualms to work with me,” he said.

Nani will be next seen playing a cricketer in Telugu sports drama Jersey, a story about a late bloomer that unfolds between 1986 and 1996. The film will be directed by Gowtam Tinnanuri.

“It will be one of the most prestigious projects of my career. I play a batsman and I’ve been training really hard for three and a half hours daily,” he said.