Bigg Boss 14: Sonali Phogat talks about ‘mental torture’ after husband’s death, says she will stay ‘within the limits of decency’ on the show
Actor-politician Sonali Phogat, who made headlines when she thrashed an official with a slipper, is the newest entry on Bigg Boss 14. Before entering the show on Tuesday, she talked to Hindustan Times about how she will respond to provocation from other contestants, her struggle after her husband’s death and her survival strategy.
What made you take up Bigg Boss?
I am not just a politician but an artiste as well. I have been following Bigg Boss for quite some time now. It is the number one reality show of the country and everyone loves it. When I got a call to be a part of Bigg Boss, I felt like I could not have got a better show and I should definitely give it a shot.
Last year, a video of you hitting a government official really went viral. What is the story behind that?
See, the matter is still in court and if I say anything on it, it will amount to contempt of court. But what I can say is, if anyone tries to violate the dignity of a woman, I am always ready to fight. I come from the field of social work. If I cannot protect myself, how will I protect other women? When it comes to fighting for my dignity or someone else’s rights, I have no qualms in doing so.
The contestants of Bigg Boss constantly attempt to provoke or get a reaction out of someone. How do you think you will react to personal attacks on the show?
If anyone is insulted or disrespected, he/she will obviously give it back. This is national television, if anyone is shown to be maligning a woman, they should get a reply. If anyone says something wrong about someone else, I feel I should step in and tell them they are wrong. It has always been a habit of mine to stand up against what is wrong.
Do you feel that controversies on Bigg Boss 14 could impact your political career of 12 years negatively?
No. I have been in politics for 12 years and I have struggled a lot. Bigg Boss is run with some rules and if people follow them, I don’t think there is anything that could harm my political career. I will also stay within the limits of decency while playing the game. Bigg Boss is such a show that if you play well and entertain the audience, people like you. Your graph only goes upwards, not downwards.
Do you think that you are at an advantage, having observed the mannerisms of the contestants and how the audience is perceiving them?
Definitely. I have watched the episodes, so I know what the contestants think about each other and who is conspiring against whom. I will definitely have an edge over the others and I want to take full advantage of it.
What is your survival strategy for Bigg Boss 14?
I will play a very clean game and I will stay within the limits of decency. This is my strategy. I am not planning too much because I can react to the behaviour of other contestants only once I am inside the Bigg Boss house.
Whom do you view as your biggest threat?
I think everyone - Nikki Tamboli, Rubina Dilaik, Eijaz Khan, Rahul Vaidya - is playing quite well. I don’t think I should be targeting any one person. I want to play with everyone.
Last year, there was a video of you asking people not chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai if they were ‘Pakistani’. Is that a parameter for patriotism for you?
Since childhood, I have been taught to love our country more than anything else, which is why I got into the field of social work. Mujhe yeh sikhaya gaya hai ki agar humare desh ki jai nahi hai, toh humari bhi jai nahi hai (I have been taught that if our country doesn’t prosper, then we don’t prosper). I feel there is nothing wrong with saying ‘jai’ for our country. I am not saying it is compulsory for you to say it, but if you do, then what is the harm in that?
What aspect of your personality do you hope the audience gets to see?
My social work, my patriotism… Not everything is in front of the people. I also have the mind of an artist. People will get to see me the way I am, how I will look when I do tasks or am involved in game-planning. I am very soft-natured. I want people to know the struggles I have faced and how I overcame them to achieve success. Having been born in a farmer’s family, I consider it a huge achievement to contest in elections on a ticket from the world’s biggest party, in one of the hotseats of Haryana. I want the world to know about the taunts I faced after my husband passed away and everything I went through. I want women to know that if I can overcome my struggles, anyone can.
Do you want to tell us about your struggles?
I come from a very humble background. I was born in a farmer’s family. I studied at a government school till Class X and I was married off after that. After marriage, I decided that I want to do something and show the world that women should not be weak but work shoulder to shoulder with the men. In Haryana, only the men go out of the house. It was like that in our family as well. My in-laws allowed me to study further but they did not want me to go out and work. However, I convinced my husband and got his permission. Then, my struggle started because I got into the acting line, and there was no one to help me. I had to make it on my own. Then, I became associated with politics, and my husband supported me here as well. But after he died, I saw the reality of people and how they view a woman. If a woman is good-looking and alone, she is not allowed to live. She is mentally tortured and wrong things are said about her. People make all kinds of attempts to force you to sit at home or take advantage of you. After my husband passed away, I faced many such hardships, which have made me stronger.
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