Real-life Slumdog Millionaire wins $1m prize

Shilpa Jamkhandikar

AN office worker too poor to own a TV has won an unprecedented $1m (¤700,000) in the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Sushil Kumar's win this week drew comparisons with the 2008 Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire and, like its protagonist Jamal, the 27-year-old also watched the TV show as an escape from penury.

This is the first time a contestant has won a million dollars on the popular TV show hosted by Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan. The episode will be broadcast next week and Kumar takes home 3.5 crore rupees (about ¤580,000) after tax.


Mr Kumar, who watched the show at a neighbour's house because his family was too poor to afford a TV set, said he had not made any big plans for the money, a fortune in a country with a per capita income of ¤890.

"I'm going to repair my house, fulfil a few basic needs and then move to Delhi to study for the civil service exams," he told reporters.

Mr Kumar works as a computer operator in a government office in the impoverished eastern state of Bihar and earns 6,000 rupees (around ¤84) per month.

"Our house has almost broken down and we have a lot of loans that have to be repaid," he said.

"If it hadn't been for this money, I would have gotten old before I sorted out my life.

"I've been getting a lot of suggestions about what to do with the money, but right now I can only think about my dream of getting through the civil services exam," he said.

Slumdog Millionaire, shot in the teeming slums of Mumbai, tells the story of a young orphan who wins the TV game show against all odds.