A rapper from Pune has won the 16th season of Bigg Boss, the Indian version of the long-running international reality show Big Brother.
MC Stan, whose real name is Altaf Shaikh, beat 16 other contestants in the viewer-voted show, where participants are locked in a house for 136 days with their every move watched by audiences.
Shaikh, 23, was a known musician before he appeared on the show, but his popularity is expected to rise further with previous winners going on to become celebrities after the season finale.
"We created history. Stayed real throughout, repped hip-hop on national TV," he posted on Instagram after his win, along with a photo of himself with host, Bollywood star Salman Khan.
Along with the title, Shaikh also won a Hyundai Grand i10 Nios hatchback as well as 3.1 million Indian rupees ($37,400) in cash.
"I couldn’t understand if Salman was joking or if I had really won. Even after he announced my name, I was still wondering if it was for real, but after he hugged me, I knew I had won. It was an amazing feeling," he told The Times of India.
"My mum and dad were so proud when my name was announced, I could see it on their faces. This made me feel very good."
As with every season, the latest version of Bigg Boss featured a number of colourful characters including Tajik influencer Abdu Rozik, a Dubai resident, who last year bagged a role in Khan's upcoming Bollywood film, tentatively titled Bhaijaan.
Rozik, 19, who stands a little over 91 centimetres tall, was an audience favourite, but voluntarily left the show twice — first in December due to medical reasons and the second time in January due to prior commitments.
He was good friends with Shaikh and also attended the Bigg Boss finale in Mumbai on Sunday. Another close friend of Shaikh's on the show, Shiv Thakare, was named the first runner-up.
Shaikh, who said he participated in the show because he wants his music "to reach more people", says he will focus on his rap songs and continue "to send out positive messages to people through that".
Bigg Boss first aired in India in 2006 and was immediately a ratings hit. It's now spawned a number of regional shows including versions in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
Khan has hosted the show for 13 seasons.