'(Rumours about the break-up) was nothing but small talk, used by some people in the (Bigg Boss) house to put us down and move ahead themselves.'
Ever since they tied the knot in 2018, actors Rubina Dilaik and Abhinav Shukla have been a much-loved couple, so much so that while ruling hearts during their Bigg Boss 14 journey, their fans addressed them as 'Rubinav'.
The couple went on to feature in Vishal Mishra's music video Tumse Pyaar Hai and Neha Kakkar's Marjaneya.
Now, they are back in a new travel show called Wanderlust, which takes them on a fun-filled ride through Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in a six-part series.
Rubina and Abhinav narrate their experiences to Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya and say, "We even got to experience a different culture and an opportunity to dress up as an Emirati bride and groom which brought back memories of our wedding."
For avid travellers like the two of you, how difficult was it being locked up in your home for weeks together during the pandemic?
Rubina: It was as difficult for us as it was for the others.
But we were blessed that we could go back to our village in Himachal, be in a scheduled place, amidst the orchards and the fields, away from masks and PPE kits.
Did the pandemic make you reprioritise your goals, reassess your relationship?
Rubina: I believe every challenge can, directly or indirectly, make or break a relationship. We saw it as an opportunity to grow. It strengthened our bond.
After the lockdown was lifted, to get on a show like Wanderlust, how exciting was that?
Abhinav: Everyone was itching to travel then, some took a holiday locally, others went abroad.
We were lucky to travel with Wanderlust to Abu Dhabi, at a time when the weather was good, and do all the mind-blowing things the production house had planned for us.
From long-rifle shooting, archery and jet-skiing to a safari and a Mustang ride to the top of Jebel Hafeet mountain, the shoot was a blast.
Rubina: Yes, we even got to experience a different culture and an opportunity to dress up as an Emirati bride and groom which brought back memories of our wedding.
What do you remember from your wedding in 2018?
Rubina: I remember Abhinav standing in the middle of the mandap, and as I came along, he extended his hand. I took it and he led me forward towards our life together. It was beautiful!
Abhinav: And I remembered her beautiful face, that half smile... It was there even during our recreated Emirati wedding.
During Bigg Boss, there were rumours that things weren't going well and you were headed towards a break-up. Were they just rumours or was there some truth to them?
Abhinav: It was nothing but small talk, used by some people in the house to put us down and move ahead themselves. That's how the show is.
But we stood our ground, undeterred by small talk, both inside and outside the house. We dusted it off our sleeve.
Small talk does not break strong people.
Bigg Boss is long over. People have exhausted themselves and we are still together.
And in the end, Rubina emerged the winner of Bigg Boss, Season 14. That must have been a proud moment for you.
Abhinav: Her winning was like me winning. Andar andaza nahi tha because people act smart.
But after I came out of the house, I realised just how she was.
Everyone was rooting for Rubina. She deserved to win Bigg Boss 14.
Rubina, did the win change anything for you?
Rubina: Any victory opens up a lot of avenues, leads to both career and personal growth.
So yes, it brought along many opportunities and a lot of responsibility.
Somewhere you understand that with so many people looking up to you, I have to be a better influence.
While Wanderlust is not Bigg Boss, travelling everyday, being on camera even when not in the mood, must have had its moments of stress too?
Rubina: Stress is a part of our lives. You can't avoid it.
But in the case of Wanderlust, it was countered nicely by the experience that we might not have enjoyed had we been travelling on our own.
Had it been a normal chhuti, we might have slept an extra hour or two, but in this case, since we were working for a production house and with a shooting crew, time was of essence and we had to respect it. We had to be responsible.
Abhinav: But not for a single day did it feel like a job. It was easy breezy.
Given how popular you are as a couple, will we see you doing more such shows?
Rubina: There's nothing in the pipeline at the moment, but if the right opportunity comes up, it's always a pleasure working with Abhinav. I'm a big fan of my husband.
I am sure he would reciprocate that?
Abhinav: (Laughing) But, of course.
Abhinav, we saw you last in Lukka Chuppi. Any more films?
Abhinav: Fingers crossed, there will be more.
I'm always open to offers. But yes, I have become more choosy of late which is the reason for the delay.
Rubina's debut film, Ardh, is coming up.
What positive effect have you had on each other since you tied the knot?
Rubina: Abhinav has encouraged me to be fearless. He has brought adventure into my life, the enthusiasm and energy to do different things.
Abhinav: And after being with Rubina, I have become a little more predictable, more responsible and punctual too.
Rubina: People talk about my vision, the clarity of my thoughts. I owe that to Abhinav.
Abhinav: I am healthier now. More disciplined in my sleep patterns.
Rubina: (Laughing) And I have become more disciplined, or at least trying to curb my habit of splurging. Now, I consider the choices and options more carefully.
Abhinav: She has a strong character and that reflects on me too.
And is there something irritating and exasperating about the other that you would want to change?
Abhinav: Nahin, why change anything? Chote mote quirks toh sab mein hoti hai, they add to our personality.
Rubina: If you have to change something, change what is toxic in yourself.
But if we tried to change our partners according to our ways and tastes...
Abhinav: We would become identical. Like robots...
Rubina: And life would become very boring.
So, we have always cherished and celebrated our differences.
Before Bigg Boss 15 winner Tejasswi Prakash was confirmed as the face of Ekta Kapoor's supernatural thriller, Naagin 6, there was speculations that you would be doing the show, Rubina.
Rubina: No, I was never approached for Naagin. My fans wanted it, and they created the speculation.
Abhinav: (Laughing) It was like me being approached for Game of Thrones.