Prince Narula has made a career of appearing on television reality shows, and winning them. He burst onto the scene MTV Roadies, whose 2015 season he won. Then came another MTV show, Splitsvilla, again won by Narula. More recently, Narula emerged as the winner of the popular reality show Bigg Boss, becoming a household name overnight. So it goes without saying that it has been quite a journey for him, from being the boy next door to a television star.

“My first achievement,” Narula tells Guardian 20, “was being awarded the runner-up prize in Mr. Punjab 2014, and from that instant my journey kicked off. After that I gave auditions for Roadies followed by Splitsvilla. It was just a day before Splitsvilla that my leg got fractured and I was quite rattled about how I was going to perform in the show. But there was passion inside me about winning and I went along without even getting my leg plastered. And finally I did win. Later, I got selected for Big Boss and it was really surprising for me as all of this was very quick. Again I tried my best there and won the show and got a call from Roadies asking me to come down the office for there was a surprise waiting for me. I was told that I will be judging the show as a gang leader in the upcoming season.”

Not everyone gets the opportunity to judge a show they themselves once participated in as a contestant. But reality shows are not all. Narual is also pursuing a parallel career as a TV actor. He now features in a show called Badho Bahu. So are there any plans to make the big move to Bollywood? “I don’t plan anything as specific,” he says. “I just move along with what is offered to me. I do not feel anything as big or small. I am always interested in doing my best, whatever I am working on. When I was offered this show, I just loved the script.  It was very different and not clichéd. So now whenever I see its amazing ratings, I just jump a bit every time. It’s the audiences that have put me here and I always try to prove that I am worthy of it. It’s the appreciation from my audience that keeps me motivated. Not just Bollywood, but anything that is loved by my audiences, I will do it.”

The running stereotype is that television actors can’t be versatile. But Narula has set out to dispel such notions, given the range of TV projects he is involved in, as well as with his just-begun singing career (his song, “Zero Figure”, released earlier this month). “I think it depends from actor to actor and their work,” he says. “As for me I am blessed that people have loved me in everything I do. From reality shows to acting to singing, I have tried a handful of things and people have responded to me with immense love and appreciation.”

In a way, Narula used the platform of reality shows to launch himself onto a bigger stage. And his mantra for doing well on reality shows is simple: be realistic. “I was quite unaware about how to win or what should be the game plan, when I was selected for these shows. People told me different things and gave advice. But one thing came to my mind was if I play imitating someone, I will lose my identity. I decided to be the real me whether I win or lose. I fought where I had to; I enjoyed at times where I could; I apologised where it was my mistake. I don’t like being fake. So this was my strategy all along that helped me win all these shows. I have been the same person onscreen as I am behind the screen. The secret is just to be realistic,” he says.

It’s still early days for Narula in showbiz, and there lies the long road ahead. But already, he has amassed a large following of fans and admirers. But he says he hasn’t let fame get to his head. “I haven’t changed at all because I don’t think of stardom at all. You never know for how much longer you have this ‘stardom’. If we want to change ourselves tomorrow you never know if the people would love you the same way or not. So life at that point becomes tough and I don’t want that. Even today I am the same person that I was before this popularity; I have those same friends; same way of chilling out as we used to do before. Nothing has changed. I value this stardom actually and feel really lucky that people love me so much, which is rare.”

Aside from work, family is important to Narula. He says that looks up to his father and draws inspirations from his work. “I admire my dad. He is my inspiration and my strength. I have seen him build his business from scratch and he worked so hard. He is now a well-established successful businessman. So I feel like I am his son and I should also work hard to achieve my dreams. And honestly speaking, all the actors are just doing their jobs for what they are paid for. I don’t know if I ever will be inspired by any celebrity or not, but as of now I don’t have any celebrities that I can idolise. However, I would really love to work with Ranvir Singh.”

Currently, Narula is at work on several projects, including his show Badho Baho on &TV, his singing assignments as well as on an upcoming Punjabi movie.  He says: “I am trying out at everything and I am here to stay no matter with what medium. I am doing everything I can as an actor, model, singer, or anything.”

What advice would he offer his fans and admirers who might want to follow in his footsteps? “I would just say, keep working hard. Many people will come your way to preach you or advice you on so many things but always listen to yourself. Trust your instincts and believe in yourself. You will always achieve what you want if you are focused and hardworking.”

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