Sushil Kumar was making $120 a month before he went on the Indian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."
His family was so poor, that he couldn't even afford a TV set, forcing him to go to a neighbor's home to watch the quiz show. Watching him tick off correct answer after correct answer, his neighbors persuaded him to try out for the show, he said.
In the 2008 film, the main character, also with a poor background, goes on the same show and wins the grand prize.
Kumar and his wife of four months wept when Indian movie legend Amitabh Bachchan, the show's host, handed them a check for 50 million rupees (just over $1 million) after the contestant gave all the right answers.
Kumar, the 26-year-old son of a farm laborer, said he will use his money to buy a house, help his brothers and to build a library in his village.
The show first started in 2000 with a jackpot of $200,000, which was won twice. The prize money was hiked to $1 million last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.