A computer operator who earns just $130 a month has become the first person to win the $1 million top prize on the Indian version of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? television quiz.
Sushil Kumar, 27, from the impoverished eastern state of Bihar, scooped 50 million rupees on “Kaun Banega Crorepati?” during recording yesterday, the show’s host Amitabh Bachchan revealed on his blog.
“A young man from the interiors of Bihar, earning a meagre salary of just Rs 6500 per month, coming from the most humblest of backgrounds, reaches the Hot Seat and cracks the ultimate prize — [50 million rupees],” Bachchan wrote.
“An incredible feat! This is what the common man is all about,” he added, describing the excitement on set during filming as “unimaginable”.
Bollywood star Bachchan, who began presenting the quiz 11 years ago, said the celebrations that followed were “rare and once in a lifetime”.
The show has had winners in previous series, but at lower jackpot levels.
“I love reading,” Kumar said in an interview after his win. “Before winning this amount, I couldn’t buy many books, but now, I will make a huge library.”
Kaun Banega Crorepati? is one of India’s most popular television shows and inspired the best-selling book Q and A, by Vikas Swarup, which was turned into the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.
Both the book and the film feature a lowly call-centre tea-boy called Jamal Malik who grew up in the slums bags before bagging top prize on the show and winning his childhood sweetheart.
While Kumar may have had poor beginnings, he is in fact much better off than his supposed fictional counterpart.
Kumar is more a role model for lower middle-class, small-town India than “slumdog” street kids, commentators said.
The postgraduate in psychology teaches computer studies part time in his local college to earn extra money and he said he plans to use part of his winnings to train for gruelling examinations to secure a coveted civil service post.
The episode featuring Kumar will be broadcast next month.