We met up with KBC’s first winner and had a hearty chat…must read…

Indian television’s most celebrated quiz non-fiction show, Kaun Banega Crorepati will soon be back on Sony TV, weaving tales of aspiration and achievement.

Toss the word KBC in the air and the image that definitely conjures in the mind’s eye is that of IAS aspirant Harshvardhan Nawathe winning Rs 1 crore (victory amount) and catapulting into Aonian heights of popularity overnight.

Many years have passed but images are fresh in every KBC enthusiast’s mind.

KBC promo on…

“Wow, KBC is back. Bachchan saab is looking dapper as usual. This season seems to be fun,” said a friend.

He continued, “Remember the first winner…kya naam tha yaar…yes Harshvardhan…what is he up to these days?”

Good question…as TV journalists the question intrigued us and we decided to fish out the answer. After a round of calls and asking around, we located the poster boy of KBC, who is a symbol of hope for many across the country.

A great orator and a sharp thinker, conversation with Harshvardhan was nostalgic and razor-sharp. Excerpts:

He is currently the bossman…CEO in a company:

Thanks a lot for the chat, I appreciate. Many would begin by asking what am I up to these days…I would like to state that I am CEO in a global technology firm and my job takes me to all parts of the world. I am a full time employee residing in Mumbai and lead a happy family life. But yes, my claim to fame is KBC and it’s overwhelming that till day people remember me for the feat. My physical look has changed since that fortune day, but the moment I tell my name, the connect and appreciation is immediate, which is a good feeling (smiles).

The KBC Story…

Okay, so let me tell you. I was a middle class IAS aspirant boy. I used to watch KBC with my mom and usually answered most of the queries. Thus, my mom pushed me to participate. I did try and one thing led to another. In no time I was on the hot seat. I still remember the day. When I entered the set the experience and glitz was overwhelming. Then you see your idol Amitabh Bachchan walking in, a God of a persona. You get numb. But gradually I maintained calm and focused back on the game. I would like to share that I never really participated for the money, certainly not fame as until then I did not know the outcome. I enjoyed quiz and thus wanted to answer the questions. One question after another and within … say 22 mins… I won it and my life changed completely. Suddenly everything was surreal and I became an overnight star.

The Part of Being Famous…

The incident happened around 17 years ago.  It’s a long time… I wouldn’t say the fame has waned completely. I remember I used to stay at Ghatkopar then and the street where I stayed got christened as Crorepati Galli. Postmen got fan messages and letters all day long. I have seen a hi-fly life. I have dined and partied with the biggest of celebs and met all top level politicians. I went to functions, spoke at colleges, did modeling et al. I enjoyed it all…but back of my mind I always knew that it would not last permanently. Winning KBC is one time phenomenon, doesn’t have a repeat call. Sachin can play in many matches, Hrithik can make one movie after another, but KBC can be won only once. I enjoyed till the full glory lasted and eventually it died down from that euphoric state.

Being Balanced in the Head…

I won a handsome amount. But I did not splurge. Yes, I did buy a car of my own, but then my father was there to guide me through. I have read stories where other KBC winners apparently did not use the money well. It all depends on your upbringing and values. You need to be aware that when all dies down, reality stays. I did have offers from producers to act or host a show, but things did not materialize. I was not comfortable acting so would not have done it just for the heck of it. One needs to know his or her calling.

The Regret…

My father is an IPS officer and my idol. I always wanted to follow his footsteps. KBC happened to me when I was 27, and 28 was the cut off age for civil service back then. Post KBC, there was much commitment chaos and when it died I did try to clear civil service, but the dream did not come true.  That’s the only regret I have…rest all is God’s blessings.

The Bachchan Charisma…

Mr Bachchan is amazing. So humble, dignified and inspiring. I have always been his biggest fan. The biggest take away from the KBC experience was to spend time with the living legend. He is something else. Post the show, I have met him many times and every time he has inquired about my family, parents…he is an evolved human being. Bachchan saab is special and will always be my favourite.

On the game…

See, the feel has evolved over the years. After Shar Rukh Khan came as the host, the tonality became very peppy and fun. Later, the game projected itself as a massy one, catering to larger audiences with an emotional connect. Having said that, it is an amazing show where the range of questions is phenomenal. Kudos to Siddharth Basu (creator of Big Synergy) for preparing them. One has to be alert and sharp to win it. But yes, over the years the questions have become a bit easier (smiles).

Tips for aspirants…

Don’t think of the fame, money, glamour…go there for the quizzing. Remember, the questions test your knowledge which you would have gained throughout your life, read and absorbed. Don’t think mugging up a current affairs book will make you victorious. A question on Tom & Jerry or Mahabharata will not be part of a current affairs book. It’s about what you have learnt over the years. Have fun…live the experience, earn some money, get your 15 mins of fame and if nothing excites, participate to meet Bachchan saab, it’s a golden opportunity.

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