Life after KBC: Into the world of middle-class crorepatis

Hindustan Times | By, Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi
Jul 28, 2014 07:48 AM IST

How much does happiness cost? You don’t need Kaun Banega Crorepati’s Computerji to tell you that the answer is Rs 1 crore. You just need to see what the TV quiz show’s winners have done with their lives since they won the prize money.

They locked their final answers and waited with bated breath for Computerji to tell them their fate. And then there was a star burst. Celebrity status. National respect. Pots of money.

It’s been 14 years since the TV quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) first held India spellbound. The show changed the way we saw television. Its host, Amitabh Bachchan, defined how Indian TV hosts should be. And the prize money – a dazzling Rs 1 crore 14 years ago, and a mindblowing Rs 5 crore now – changed the lives of its winners.

His father was in the Indian Police Service (IPS) and was studying for the civil services exam himself when KBC began. A quiz programme on TV was an attractive proposition for an IPS aspirant. So he’d watch the show and answer the questions along with the contestants, getting them right all the time. Till, one night, his mother said, "If you know all this, why do you just sit on the couch and answer? Why don’t you sit on the hot seat?"

So he did. While the show was on, he sent in a correct entry to one of the viewer questions that are asked at regular intervals and sure enough, was called in for auditions. In 2000, Nawathe made history as KBC’s very first winner, and the first ever person in the country to win such a massive amount on TV at the age of 27. Few people remember the names of the winners on other seasons of KBC. But everyone remembers the name of the show’s first winner.

The Rs 1 crore he won, says Nawathe, was important. But the fame he acquired along with it was unimaginable. "For a year, I lived the life of a rock star," he laughs. He was hounded for autographs, courted by parents of wannabe brides, recognised everywhere he went. It was surreal and fantastic. But it also had its side effects. "I lost my focus and didn’t take the civil services’ exam," says Nawathe.

Also read:Amitabh thrilled to have multiple crorepatis

She had a degree in fashion design. But her conservative Mumbai-based in-laws didn’t want her going out to work. That could have been that for Sanmeet Kaur, except that she really wanted to be more than a homemaker. So she started a tiffin service, supplying lunch dabbas to office goers. But then she had an accident that left her bed-ridden for six months. Unable to cook, Kaur had to stop her business.

“That left me very depressed,” she says.
It was on her husband’s suggestion that she started tutoring children. And, because she was a general-knowledge enthusiast herself, as part of the learning chart she’d created for her pupils, she urged them to watch KBC.

“The show was so good,” says Kaur. “I seemed always to be learning from the show.”

One day, on a whim while watching TV, Kaur sent an SMS answering the question asked as an entry qualifier for KBC. The next thing she knew, she was on the hot seat. And she won Rs 5 crore. “I was sure I could win about Rs 25-30 lakhs, but not more,” says Kaur.

Kaur made history as the first woman to win Rs 5 crore. And the money bought her all her dreams. A bigger house in Mumbai with all the amenities was her first buy. But she also opened her own fashion studio.

“That Rs 1 crore gave me a new life, self-belief and confidence”
Rahat Taslim, 37, winner, season 4
She was an ordinary homemaker from a conservative, lower-middle-class Muslim household, decently happy, living with her husband and two children in Giridih, Jharkhand. That wasn’t what she’d wanted to be however. Taslim was studying to appear for her medical entrance exams when her family decided it would be better for her to marry, and that was the end of her career aspirations.
But though Taslim uncomplainingly managed her household on her husband’s meagre income as a government employee, she knew she was meant for bigger things. So when KBC started, she was hooked.

“I loved the show. It wasn’t just the big money. It was like going back to my studies,” she says. Always a good student, Taslim decided to participate in KBC herself.

She did. And she won. She used the prize money of Rs 1 crore to buy herself a new life. A risk taker to the core, after setting aside some money for her children’s education, Taslim invested a big chunk of the prize money in a business of her own, even though her husband and family were against it.

“They said I wouldn’t be able to manage a business. But I was adamant.”

And so Taslim opened a garment showroom in a newly opened mall in Giridih in 2012. Though still in its teething stage, the business is doing fairly well. “I used my prize money to prove myself and I succeeded.”

The Rs 1 crore has given Taslim the life she wanted. But more important, she says, it gave her confidence and self-belief. “That was my greatest win.”

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