Last updated on – Jun 8, 2020, 19:54 IST

01/13​Exclusive – KBC’s first winner Harshvardhan Nawathe: After I answered the Rs 1 crore question, Big B called his personal makeup artist to do my touch up

Kaun Banega Crorepati’s first winner Harshvardhan Nawathe, who became the poster boy of the show after winning Rs 1 crore, is happily married and is leading a normal life. Harshwardhan, who became a celebrity overnight after winning the show was the head of Group Corporate Social Responsibility at Mahindra Group till last year. He is currently exploring opportunities. The 47-year-old Mumbai resident recently spoke exclusively to E Times TV about his winning moment, how his life changed post the show and also shared a few tips for the aspiring KBC participants. He also talked about legendary star and show’s host Amitabh Bahchan’s special gesture for him and his meeting with late Shri Bal Thackeray. By: Vijaya Tiwari

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02/13​How has your life changed post being the Kaun Benega Crorepati’s first winner?

Life gave me an opportunity in the form of this show and I made the most out of it. It has been 20 years now and it is not a short duration of time. Things have changed a lot definitely I wouldn’t say that when I walk on the streets it’s the same like it was 20 years back but that recognition still remains people do recognise me when my name is called out. When I am going for meetings and I give my business card and look at my name the reaction is different, the recognition is always there and it will remain till the time I am there. I think that opportunity was so used at that point of time that I will always be known whatever I do in life. I will always be known as the first KBC winner whatever I do in life you tend to remember first of everything whatever achievements one has made and whoever is the first one.

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03/13​​I went to UK I did not have to take a huge amount of loan

It gave me a platform and I was a student back then, I was preparing for my civil services and life changed drastically and I couldn’t pursue for my civil services because my interest was lost and I had to be in Mumbai because there were some PR contacts. I was involved in many things that I was doing at that point of time. I would say the platform that KBC gave me was like a net and then I could experiment with life. Then I went to UK I did not have to take huge amount of loan. I did my MBA. I came back and started with my professional career. It was a net, it allowed me to experiment a little more than I would have. That is what changed in my life.

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04/13​Who pushed you to take part in KBC?

When the show started I was in Delhi for my IAS preparation. The show was launched and I could see the posters of the show everywhere. But I was engrossed in my preparations and came back to Mumbai somewhere around August 1 and KBC started around sometime in June. I came back in August and I would watch the episodes of KBC with my parents. And while watching I would be able to answer most of the questions being asked during the show. And it was my mother who brought it to my notice that you are sitting and answering all the questions why don’t you try. That’s how I started trying.

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05/13​After 6th attempt I got a call from the makers of KBC that I have been shortlisted

My mother is the one who pushed me to do this. The process was different in those days. You had to make phone calls and we had no mobiles during those days. it was a landline number that was displayed on the screen during KBC promotions. I would call that number and it would be continuously busy. My strategy was since I used to study a lot and read all night, so whenever I took a break, I would just pick up the phone and call the KBC number. While doing this I figured out that during 3 o’clock for 4 o’clock in the night my phone used to connect and there used to be a automatic voice note, with questions and options. Then we would choose an option and press the correct option from the given choices. I did that a couple of times, I think 5 times I was selected but the second filtration call never came and after 6 attempts the call came back that you have been shortlisted. Another couple of questions were asked from us and then there was one ask a question without an option. That was the process then that you aren’t given any option and you have to answer. I manage to crack it and the next day I got a call that you have been selected and we will send you the details. Then by courier I got all the details and I landed up on the show.

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06/13​How was it sitting in front of Amitabh Bachchan?

It is very difficult for me to describe in words because I have seen all the people of my generation and before me who have idolised Mr Bachchan. I have grown up watching all his movies. There are movies of him that I have watched more than hundred times. I am not exaggerating at all. Even today while switching the TV channels if I come across a movie like Sholay or Deewar, I watch it all over again. And to see him in person or in front of you was a dream come true. It takes you some time to digest the fact that he is in front of you. He has that demi god like persona, his voice, it takes while to sink in that you are in front of him. What the shows makers do they give you some time with Mr Bachchan and he comes and he says hello to everyone and interacts with everyone. That levels it out and people feel comfortable in his presence. Otherwise it will become very difficult for someone to focus on anything else who is seeing him for the first time. You can look at him for hours. They make you comfortable and he is very down to earth, he comes and talks to you and says hello to you. So that’s how it starts and that’s what makes many people comfortable to be around him. That’s what happened to me also and once I started playing the game, I was very focused. It was all about the questions asked and what will be the answers. I was quite focused then.

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07/13​Did he do something to make you comfortable?

I don’t think I required anything from him to make me comfortable. But what I remember and this I will always remember, I am sharing this for the first time and it’s a very good question. When I finally answered the Rs One crore question, he took a commercial break that time and said ab hum lete hain chota sa break and we went off air, what practically happens in the shoot that they take a very small break for 30 seconds or something and they bring you back. When that happened, I had already answered the final question. During the break he called his makeup man Mr Deepak Sawant and asked him to do my touch up. He said in saheb ka zara touch up kar do…. He started doing the touch up and then I somewhere knew that I have cracked the Rs 1 crore question. When Mr Deepak Sawant did my makeup it was a very special feeling because he was Big B’s personal makeup man and he has been around Mr Bachchan for 30-40 years. It was a special gesture from his side. This is during the show. After the show there have been many instances where I have interacted with Mr Bachchan and I have several examples that I can quote. He treats you differently and has that human touch which is so absent these days amongst even common people but given a person like his stature he is very humble. Whenever I have met Big B after that, he has always asked me about my parents because he knew I was the only child. After the show, he interacted with me for an hour. The feeling of me having won the show had not sunk in. For me it was like any another quiz show because since my childhood I had participated in many quiz shows. Winning Rs one crore was something I had deliberately kept away from myself. It was not about money for me it was more like going there and experience. It was like a civil aspirant jo itna padhaai kar chuka hai kya proof kar sakte hai. He called me and spent some time with me. He told me Harshvardhan you don’t know what you have done ab aap bahut Sambhal ke rahiye aap apne parents Ka khyal rakhiye and take care of yourself.

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08/13​Amitabh Bachchan’s words of wisdom for Harshvardhan Nawathe

I mean these things come from someone who has seen it all. He meant it was very easy to lose yourself in that bubble fame of yours. He was in a way trying to tell me that be cautious and prepare myself for the change. I think those were very wise words and they have remained with me probably because of my upbringing and the kind of environment that the parents have given me. I was able to able to balance myself otherwise it is a very tough situation to be in. I was on page 3 of Bombay Times almost every second or third day you are in the newspaper and your life is being covered. In those days not every phone had cameras so people preferred taking autographs. I have given millions of autographs. It was very uncommon to me and I am not a film star or a cricketer. I come from a very humble and middle class background and suddenly I was thrown into this situation, so it becomes very tough for an individual to handle everything. Moreover if you talk of celebrities like film stars, actors who you know and see on page 3 they have done a lot of hard work to reach that stature. Hrithik Roshan did not become famous on Day 1 he worked hard to reach there. Even Sachin Tendulkar has been doing this for years together for him to be known as The Sachin Tendulkar. I had not done anything. I had cracked the show in 21 minutes and that also became a kind of record of sorts. They were trying to research at that time if my time was the shortest and because of a commercial break and all they couldn’t come up with the conclusion or conclusive data but they were trying to do that. 21-22 minutes doesn’t mean anything but it changes everything in your life.

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09/13​Crazy fan moments

There are many moments. Some positives and negatives as well. I don’t know what to call it whether it was jealousy or something else. But I have had sad moments also sad as in unpredictable. Like when I started my life again within a year after returning from the UK. I went for job interviews and unfortunately people would behave in a very sad way. People were trying to pull me down for my achievements. That has happened to me during my job interview. There were people who would tell me why do you need a job, you have earned so much money. Had we earned so much at your age then we would have retired. (yaar tum ne toh itna Paisa Kama Liya hai… Are agar tumhare age mein ham itna Kama lete to ham retire Ho jaate). Chairman of your company saying this is not motivating. It is not a great thing to tell a 28-year-old that he should retire. They would tell me to go and buy a beach house in Goa and enjoy beer. (are aap toh Goa mein ek beach house le lo aur beer piyo chill karo). Those were the things that were negative. Fortunately not everything was negative.

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10/13​Mobbed and hand got slit

I was attending an event where there was a huge crowd and my friends (who were also my bodyguards on days) were stuck somewhere and I was somewhere else, so when I was getting down from the stage I couldn’t find my friends and got mobbed. Everyone was trying to touch me and shake hands with me and later I found my hand sticky. I pulled my hand and found it bleeding. So, someone had slashed my palm with a blade. You know that thin cut that you don’t realise but it bleeds. So, these kinds of incidents have also happened to me. But mostly things have been positive with me and people have been kind.

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11/13​His meeting with Shri Bal Thackeray

After this incident, the next day I went to meet Shri Balasaheb Thackeray and I had marks all over my hand. He saw that and asked me what had happened and I narrated him the entire incident. He in his own humorous style which he is known for, folded his hands and said Harshvardhan this has to be your greeting from now on. This is something that I will always remember that out of that negative incident also came out a very positive thing. He told me you should always do a namaste and stop shaking hands and I followed it to the extent I could.

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12/13​When the lane he lived in was called Crorepati galli

This Crorepati galli name was given by the rikshawallas and auto drivers who stand at the station. They started calling it crorepati gali. I also realised this when one of my relatives came to our house and he asked one of the auto drivers to leave him at my address and the rikshawallah replied to him saying achha crorepati gali mein jana hai. That’s how we realised that it has been called crorepati Galli.

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13/13​​Tips for aspiring KBC contestants

I am not the one who can crack all the quizzes and competitions. I am no one to give tips. But from my side I would say that once you are there on the hot seat just focus on what the question is and whether you know the answer. The second thing is not about planning something when you get a call from the channel and the KBC people it will take you only to a certain level it can’t take you all the way. It is a show for someone who has been reading. Following what’s all been happening around in the world, someone who has been aware. If you are aware you can crack it. It is not very tough, it is a show for the masses and the questions that are asked are something that you have read, even if you have not read you have at least heard about it so if you are listening to the daily news, your politics and current affairs has been covered. Mythology I think we all grow up listening and reading about. It is about being aware and not about being prepared. A lot of people ask me up mein kaun si kitab padhi thi jaane se pahle it is not about one book or one literature that you will read and crack the show it is about your awareness level. It is not about money or anything else it is about showing what you are made of. it is not about 15 days preparation for 1 month preparation it is about what all you have learnt through your life.

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