The new year got off to a dream start for an Indian housewife who became the first contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire) to win the jackpot of around $1 million (Rupees 50 million).
Now in its sixth season, the show is hosted by Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan who has been the face of the show for all but one season since its 2000 debut. While the show launched with a Rupees 10 million jackpot when it first aired on News Corp.'s Star network, this was increased to Rupees 50 million by the fourth season when the game show shifted to Sony Entertainment Television.
The host touted the big prize for Mumbai housewife Sunmeet Kaur Sawhney on social media.
“The first woman to accomplish this feat ever in the history of the game in India. We have had Rupees 10 million winners, but never a Rupees 50 million winner! Incredible!! What a game she played!”, Bachchan posted on his Facebook account.
Referring to the recent gang-rape of a young woman in Delhi leading to her eventual death which shook India, Bachchan added: “In this atmosphere of crime and discrimination against women, this has come as a compelling event...Sit up and take notice of the women in our country. They are half our strength and increasing in numbers by the minute. We must protect them, give them their place in society, honor them and look upon them with dignity and standing!”
“I hope to be an inspiration for many other women in the country," Sawhney said in an interview with a newspaper. "At this time, when the country is talking about women empowerment, my advice to all women is to be mentally and physically strong.”
A high-school graduate married to an actor who has appeared in bit parts in movies and commercials, Sawhney also gives tuition classes to young children. The mother of two daughters, about four years ago, Sawhney suffered from a life-threatening tumor, which also caused her depression until she said her husband suggested she “start reading books and widen my knowledge.”
While she is still deciding how to spend all the money, Sawhney said that she has decided “to dedicate one portion of the money to some good cause and another portion will be for a religious activity.”
Following the win, Bachchan also posted pictures of him dancing with the winner and her husband on the TV show's set. The episode will air on Indian TV on Jan. 12.