Slumdog Millionaire is a hot topic of conversation in India, where it’s alternately viewed with pride and scorn, and few have a more interesting perspective on it than Harshvardhan Nawathe—the real slumdog millionaire. Nawathe is the only person to ever win it all on India’s version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?—a feat that earned him fleeting national fame.
Though his family wasn’t well off, Nawathe never lived in the slums. But he does know them well, because now, that’s his job. Sick of being idly rich, Nawathe has become deputy general manager of a foundation helping India’s poorest children. Few in India know that part of his story, because poverty is taboo—which is also why Slumdog is so controversial. Nawathe didn’t mind the film, but he thinks it’s pretty unrealistic.