Last season, on KBC 5, Sushil Kumar, a common man from Bihar, made history by hitting the R5 crore jackpot. It’s the most prize money ever won on an Indian TV show. The season before, Rahat Taslim, a housewife, won R1 crore and, needless to say, it completely changed her fortunes. Similarly, in 2005, Brajesh Dubey won Rs 1 crore on the second season of KBC. Of course, over a decade ago, in 2000, Mumbai boy Harshvardhan Nawathe became the first person to win a crore on KBC. And the only season of KBC Junior (2001), made 14-year-old Ravi Mohan Saini India’s youngest millionaire.
So how has KBC changed the lives of these winners from humble backgrounds? Season four’s winner, Rahat, says, “The money helped secure a bright future for my kids. I’ve set aside money for my daughter’s marriage and my son’s education. We now live in a better house.” Rahat, however, has managed to stay grounded: “Money evaporates, respect doesn’t. More than half the money I won has been spent, but the respect I won through the show has only multiplied.”
Season One’s winner, Harshvardhan, agrees. The Ghatkopar resident was a 26-year-old finance professional preparing for his IPS (Indian Police Service) exams in 2000. The show changed his life overnight: “Suddenly, I was cutting ribbons and shaking hands with the who’s who of showbiz. It’s always easy to get swayed by sudden fame. I lost track of the IPS exams,” he says, adding, “After nearly two years, I decided to leave everything behind and pursue an MBA in Edinburgh. It was the wisest thing to do with the money I had left.” The 38-year-old is employed with the Naandi Foundation in Mumbai and works on a project for underprivileged kids.
Sushil, last year’s grand prize winner, has already started pursuing further education for a high-profile government job. “Today when I watch the promos, I remember how my in-laws would note down the questions for me to participate in the show. Probably because I have seen the less-privileged side of life, all this money and fame haven’t gone to my head,” he says, adding, “I’m comfortably working today and chasing my career dreams without financial pressures.”
Five seasons down and 12 years since it started, Kaun Banega Crorepati is now gearing up for its sixth outing, hopefully to change a few more lives for the better.