'Our relationship has grown, in an amazing way. When we came into the house, we were a new couple and it was a bit of gamble coming in together. I am glad we took that chance because we have learnt so much about each other.'
Former Miss India Rochelle Maria Rao was the first to be voted out among the four finalists during the grand finale of Bigg Boss 9, and she did feel the pinch.
"Since I was one of the finalists, there was a small pinch that I did not lift the trophy," Rochelle says. "But for me, the fact that I stayed in the house for 105 days and got evicted during the finale was a bigger deal than the trophy."
We saw Rochelle as a strong, strategic player as well as an insecure girl, as she entered the house with boyfriend Keith Sequeira in tow.
"My journey was a mix of fun and nerves, because I tend to over-stress about everything. The best part was that I did so many things that I never thought I would do! I lasted way longer than I expected to. My target was eight weeks, which I did not tell anyone," Rochelle says with a laugh.
"Bigg Boss was about endurance and learning. I would have avoided a lot of the situations outside the house but in it, I was forced to talk about them and solve them. I made great friends. It's been the journey of a lifetime!" she exclaims.
Rochelle believes her Hindi has improved after the show.
"My Hindi has gotten better. More than anything, I got the confidence to talk! It doesn’t matter what comes out! In the end, people understood what I was trying to say," she says, adding: "Just before the finale, we were interacting with the crew and I suddenly started talking so much. They were surprised, and I said it's because I'm talking in English!"
Rochelle feels her relationship with Keith has changed for better.
"The relationship has grown, in an amazing way. When we came into the house, we were a new couple and it was a bit of gamble coming in together. I am glad we took that chance because we have learnt so much about each other," she says.
"Most couple take a few years to figure things out but thanks to Bigg Boss, we did it in three and a half months. Now, our relationship is so strong that I am looking forward to what's next," Rochelle says.
Rochelle and Mandana Karimi shared a love-hate relationship in the house, and the former tries to explain it: "I think the problem with Mandana was that inside the house, she was so much into the game that she wanted to play alone and not team up with anyone or get influenced. That's great but you cannot live in a house alone. You need somebody to talk. I was trying to talk to her but she had no interest."
Would she be friends with Mandana outside the house? "I want to be friends with everybody but it takes time with a few people. Mandana kept saying she isn’t like this in real life, so I would like to get to know her in real life," Rochelle says with a smile.
Imam Siddique, who visited the show as a guest, had given Rochelle a task in which she had to convince Keith to get engaged to her on national television. But Rochelle did not like the idea.
"It wouldn’t have been a great memory. Like, it would have been that we got engaged because Imam told us!" Rochelle exclaims, and then laughs. "I would like to get engaged when my boyfriend decides, when he asks me. And he has to ask my father first!"
Like the other contestants, Rochelle has the best words for host Salman Khan.
"Salman is an amazing person. He doesn’t make you feel that you are talking to a superstar. He is so humble. He cracked jokes with us and kept us on the same level as him. We used to look forward to his feedback on the weekends," she concludes.