Actor Nani, who made his television debut as the host of the second season of Telugu version of Bigg Boss, said the experience of being associated with the popular reality show 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 Rs 50 lakh.
"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 told IANS.
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 realize 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 up more of his time than anticipated.
"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," he said.
In Devadas, which hit the screens last week, Nani shared the screen space with 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."
"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 Sridhar's idea into a full-fledged script. "That's how Devadas got rolling."
On the experience of working with Nagarjuna, someone Nani grew up idolizing, 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," he said.
Nani didn't have any qualms of doing a multi-starrer at a stage when his career is going great with a few successive blockbusters to its credit.
"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 idolizing Nagarjuna sir, I couldn't refuse an offer to work with him. I'm glad he had no qualms to work with me."
Nani will be next seen playing a cricketer in Telugu sports drama Jersey, a story about a late bloomer which 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. We start shooting from Dussehra," he said.