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Entries in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (2)

Wednesday
Dec262012

Acid Attack Victim Using TV "Millionaire" Money for More Surgery

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sonali Mukherjee, the 27-year-old acid attack victim who went on India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to win big, told ABC News she plans to use her first prize money to finance more reconstructive surgery on her face.

"My family is very poor," said Mukherjee, speaking to ABC News on Tuesday by phone from her home in New Delhi.  "They paid all our money for my surgeries, and we had to stop my treatment."

On April 22, 2003, when Mukherjee was studying sociology in the eastern city of Dhanbad, three fellow students whose advances she'd spurned broke into her room at midnight as she slept and threw acid in her face as payback.  The attack left Mukherjee disfigured, blind and partially deaf.

Nine years after attack, Mukherjee decided she could no longer hide.  She made a public plea to the Indian government last July for help in receiving skin reconstructive surgery.  She also called for tougher penalties on her assailants, who were released on bail after serving three years in jail.

Mukherjee went so far as to appeal to the government for the right to commit suicide -- suicide is illegal in India -- seeing it as the only way out of her pain.

"I felt hopeless and helpless.  I didn't want to live anymore.  The conditions for my treatment were very difficult," Mukherjee told ABC News.

Soon after her plea to the state, Mukherjee started to receive some assistance.

"I started getting phone calls and messages, and a lot of people came to help. … Now I feel there is some hope. … I don't want to die anymore," she said.

In a desperate attempt to receive more funds, and perhaps feeling somewhat emboldened, Mukherjee became a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire -- the same show that was the centerpiece of the 2008 Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Mukherjee answered 10 questions correctly and took first prize -- 2.5 million rupees, about $46,000 -- which will go toward her next round of reconstructive surgeries.

"I've had 22 operations so far and I need many more. … When I recover, I want to help people like me," Mukherjee told ABC News.  "I want to talk to foundations to help other victims of acid attacks.  But I have to get better first."

"I can cash my prize in two months," said Mukherjee, who said she hopes to return to university one day.

"I was really close to graduating before the attack," she said.  "Now I have a dream of going back to university and getting a degree and learning to do more on the computer."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct272011

Real-Life ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ First to Win Big

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW DELHI) -- Sushil Kumar, 26, grew up in one of the poorest states in India. His family was so impoverished that they couldn’t even afford a television set. But today he is a millionaire and television superstar -- the first contestant to win $1 million on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

With the roar of audience applause in the background, tears streamed down Kumar’s face as the host of Kaun Banega Crorepati, Amitabh Bachchan, handed him and his wife of five months a check for 50 million rupees, the equivalent of a little more than $1 million, after he answered all the show’s questions correctly.  The winning moment was taped on Tuesday and is slated to air next week.

Kumar is a tutor and government clerk who lives in a home with his wife, mother and five brothers in the small town of Motihari, in the state of Bihar.  Before appearing on the show, he made the equivalent of $120 a month.

Growing up, Kumar was a voracious reader and very precocious, tutoring other students to enhance his own mind.  When current neighbors saw how he would answer question after question, they persuaded him to try out for the show.

He took the preliminary test in July and received a call on Oct. 16 that he would be on the show.  Kumar flew to Mumbai three days later for the taping.  It was his first time on a plane and his first visit to a big city.

His rags-to-riches story echoes the plot of the 2008 Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could do this,” Kumar told BBC News.

Host Bachchan said, “You have created history.  Your grit and determination has made you come so far in this show.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio