Viewers of India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire were beyond thrilled this week when Sushil Kumar, a young, poor man from a small town in the eastern state of Bihar, took home more than $1 million. Of course, news organizations around the world immediately began proclaiming him the "real-life Slumdog," after the street kid character in the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire who won the game show. After all, who doesn't want to see life imitate art -- especially when it's art with such a happy ending?
The only problem is: There are some major differences between the real-life millionaire and the character in the movie script ...
That's because Kumar isn't exactly a "slumdog" -- at least, not by the movie's standards. The 26-year-old newlywed has a graduate degree in psychology and lives in a modest rented home. He works as a government computer operator and part-time tutor, earning about $120 a month, which is about five times the amount of what the government considers below the poverty line. It's still inspiring to see someone that doesn't have a lot come into such a fortune. But that's certainly a far cry from the movie's hero: an impoverished, orphaned teen from the slums.
But you know what? WHO CARES.
This is still an awesome, feel-good story, especially when you consider how Kumar is planning to spend his winnings. First, he will pay off his parents' debts and help his four brothers start small businesses. For himself and his new bride, he wants to buy a house as well as enroll into a preparatory school that will help him get a better job. Oh, and he's going to build a library in his hometown.
So maybe Kumar's bank account doesn't match the character's in the movie rupee for rupee, but he seems to have just as much determination and heart.
Image via roberthuffstutter/Flickr