The wrestler talks about the big bad world of reality shows, participating in Survivor India and his new-found relationship with Payal Rohatgi
How did you start dating Payal?
Interestingly, we first met about a year ago. I was driving in Delhi, when I saw a crowd gathered on the street. I got down from the car to find out what was happening and saw that there was an accident and Payal and a couple of her friends were stranded. I knew I had seen her somewhere, but at that time I didn’t recognise her. I offered to drop them home, but I didn’t take their contact numbers or anything. Then we met during Survivor India. That’s when I realised I had met Payal that day in Delhi. As you will see on TV, I used to be in my own world during the show. Somehow Payal and I clicked. But we started dating only once we finished the show and came back to Delhi.
You are a physically fit wrestler from small town India. Survivor must not have been that tough for you…
I had arthritis when I was young and I was stuck in a wheelchair for eight years. I have gone from that to becoming a wrestler representing my country. So I am a tough guy. I used to work out three times a day even on that island. I was generally calm and quiet on the show. I got along with Timmy Narang – he’s a nice guy. Slowly people realised that having me in their team improved their chances of winning a task. So everybody wanted me on their side.
You are doing a film called Valentine’s Night now, which has Payal and you in the lead. Are you comfortable with acting?
I believe a sportsman is the biggest star. I have a good body and decent looks. I am working on my acting now and I think I’m doing alright. Last evening we shot a romantic rain song in the Delhi cold. You have to be tough even as an actor.
Is it easy working with someone you are dating?
The good thing is that when I have any problems related to giving my shot or the camera or anything, I ask Payal for suggestions. She knows a lot more about it. We’ve finished shooting most of the film and I’m feeling good. It’s a great feeling working with Payal since we are so comfortable with each other.
We’ve heard that Payal has changed a lot after she started dating you…
Yes, she is no longer surrounded by altu-faltu (silly) friends. They are all out of her life. Now, she is spending time with people that matter. Since she is from the entertainment industry, she was used to partying, late nights and drinking. That has changed too. When I first met her, she looked pale to me. I egged her on to work out and now she is much healthier.
You two are from completely different worlds, aren’t you?
Yeah. I am a very simple and down to earth guy. I am a very loyal person. I don’t touch alcohol and I’m a complete vegetarian. In that sense, I am a little different. I am not someone who can be with one girl today and some other girl tomorrow. I told Payal that I don’t care about her past, like her dating Rahul Mahajan and other controversies. But since she is with me now, all these things should go out of the window. She gets emotional sometimes. And I tell her that if we are destined to be together and if we are still together a year from now, then we should probably get married.
You were invited to participate in Veena (Malik) Ka Vivaah. Why did you turn it down?
I am with Payal and I am not a disloyal person. They offered me Rs 1 crore to participate and then they kept calling back and raising the amount by a lakh or so. But I was not interested in participating in a swayamwar on national television, especially when I am dating someone else.
What’s the one reality show that Payal and you would like to participate in as a couple?