Times 2

A real-life 'Slumdog Millionaire'

The life-changing moment when an impoverished office worker became the winner
By Jessica Satherley

This is the moment an impoverished government clerk from a desolate region of eastern India became the first person ever to win $1million on an Indian game show. Sushil Kumar, whose family is so poor they couldn't afford a television set, claimed the staggering win on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Mr Kumar's win echoes the plot of the 2008 Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, whose impoverished protagonist, played by Dev Patel, wins the grand prize on the show. The 26-year-old and his wife of five months, Seema, wept when Indian movie legend Amitabh Bachchan, the show's host, handed them a cheque for 50 million rupees (just over $1 million) after the contestant gave all nine right answers on the show.

'You have created history. Your grit and determination has made you come so far in this show,' Bachchan said. On his blog, Bachchan described the record-breaking moment: 'He waited till almost eternity to decide on that final answer. The entire place just exploded. The family of the contestant ran on to the set in uncontrollable joy and screams and tears of happiness, whilst the live audience were whooping it up on their feet with the loudest scream I have ever heard.'

Sushil Kumar reacts after winning the $1million jackpot on India's version of Who wants to be a Millionaire, hosted by Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan

The winner's brother, Sunil Kumar Patel, told the Guardian: 'We can't believe it. The whole village has come to our house. we are worried that my dad will die of happiness. 'We can't speak to Sushil. his mobile is off because he is out with the stars and on and off planes.'

Kumar had only learned two weeks ago that he had been chosen to appear on the show - which is called Kaun Banega Crorepati in Hindi. Before Kumar went on the program, which was filmed on Tuesday and will air next week, he was a £90-a-month government office worker and supplemented his income by working as a private tutor in the small town of Motihari in the eastern state of Bihar - one of the poorest regions in India.

Kumar told viewers his family was too poor to have a television, forcing him to go to a neighbour's home to watch the quiz show. Watching him tick off correct answer after correct answer, his neighbours persuaded him to try out for the show, he said.

The trip to the Mumbai studio where the show is taped was his first ride in a plane and his first visit to a big city, he said. Many in the country who enter the show say that just meeting Bachchan is enough to make them happy.

Kumar had clear, if modest, plans for the money. He said he will use some to pay for a preparatory course so he can take India's tough civil service exam, which could lead to a secure and prestigious lifetime job.

He said he will also buy a new home for his wife, pay off his parents' debts and give his brothers start-up cash so they can set up small businesses.

And he plans to build a library in Motihari so the children of his village will have access to the books and knowledge he so desperately craved, he said.

The win has as transformed Mr Kumar into a role model for millions of aspiring youngsters yearning to escape from lives of poverty and find a role in India's burgeoning economy. Gameshows regularly get audiences in the tens of millions.

© Daily Mail, Londons

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A real-life 'Slumdog Millionaire'


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