In 2011, Sushil Kumar became the first contestant on Amitabh Bachchan-hosted Kaun Banega Crorepati to win Rs 5 crore, but soon afterwards, his life took a turn for the worse as the IAS aspirant lost his path. Sushil has earlier spoken about how the winning amount made him disillusioned, and in a recent chat with The Times of India, he said that he lost focus in academics as the media was closely watching his life at the time.
Sushil said that after winning the show “media exposure started to irritate” him as they were “too interested” in his personal life. “My behaviour also got influenced in a way. My decisions were impacted considering, ‘Media kya kahegi?’ (What will the media say?) Studying is something that you do in solace. As I was exposed to the media, I couldn’t really focus on my studies as there was always a distraction. I was constantly written about. I had to give clarification when false stories were published. This went on for 4-5 years,” he said.
Talking about how reality shows use contestants’ personal stories to boost TRPs, Sushil said that this was not the case with KBC back in the day, as the people who came on the show were there to either change their fortunes, or because they were big fans of Amitabh Bachchan.
Sushil shared that reality shows should not focus on just sob stories but also highlight the hard work that the contestants have put in. “Sure, their stories should be shown, but also the entire process, their struggle, how they reached that point after years and years of hard work and practice should be highlighted. So that the viewers get a real picture of the struggle and they don’t develop a false narrative that they can also make it without having the real expertise,” he said.
In a Facebook post shared in 2020, Sushil had mentioned that he became a “local celebrity” in Bihar after his appearance on the show and was “invited for multiple events across Bihar for 10-15 days every month. Because of the same, my education took a back seat.” At the time he also mentioned that he donated huge sums of money and was also duped as many around him took advantage of his philanthropic nature.