‘I felt very, very good sitting on the hot seat. It’s a different feeling altogether.’

Which European cartographer is credited with creating the map that gave the name ‘America’ to the newly discovered continent?

Answer: German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, in the year 1507.

Chances are, you’ve had to Google the answer but 12-year-old Mayank answered it correctly and became the youngest contestant to win Rs 1 crore on Kaun Banega Crorepati.

The bespectacled youngster has returned to his hometown of Mahendragarh, a district in Haryana, and his newfound fame follows him.

So though he is running a fever, he sportingly and patiently gives multiple interviews through the day, chatting in Hindi.

“My father used to play KBC Play Along, that’s how I got interested in it,” Mayank tells Ronjita Kulkarni/Rediff.com.

“It was his dream to go on the show. I felt I should fulfil my father’s dream and so I registered. This was my first attempt and I was successful. My father was very happy when I got selected.

“But more than anything, I was excited about meeting Amitabh Bachchan sir because it’s been my dream to meet him. I’ve a big fan from a very young age. He’s my favourite actor.”

Mayank made his first trip to Mumbai in October for the on-ground audition, where he had to give an interview and a test.

He only got a day in the city, and managed to fit in a bit of sightseeing, and saw The Gateway Of India and the beautiful sea-facing Marine Drive.

He came back the next month for the shoot.

“The second time, I couldn’t see Mumbai much. It was just hotel to studio and back, and then back home. But it’s become my favourite city now. I liked the food there too. We mostly ate South Indian food like idli, dosa and uttapam,” he says.

Mayank narrates his KBC experience: “During the mock, I got tensed because I felt I was lagging behind. But the episode shooting went well, so I started feeling better. I felt very, very good sitting on the hot seat. It’s a different feeling altogether. I was not nervous at all.”

How did he prepare for the show?

“I read GK books, newspapers and prepared notes. My parents and school teachers helped,” he says, admitting, “I don’t come first in school but I’m in the top 5.”

Mayank went on to win Rs 3.2 lakh without using any lifelines and used his first for the Rs 12.5 lakh question.

The Standard 8 student even attempted the final Rs 7 crore question: Subedar N R Nikkam and Havildar Gajendra Singh were awarded the Order of the Red Star by Russia for conveying supplies to which city during World War II?

But he chose to quit as he had no lifelines left.

“I felt very nice when I won Rs 1 crore. I got a bit emotional. I did not expect to win such a big amount at such a small age,” Mayank says.

“My parents were with me, and they hugged me. They had tears in their eyes. When I saw the episode on television when it was aired, I got even more excited,” he adds.

“Amitabh sir complemented me on the way I answered the questions. He told me, ‘I like you.’ We didn’t chat backstage but I did a photoshoot,” Mayank says.

Along with Rs 1 crore, Mayank also won a car, the Hyundai i20.

“We had a car — the Maruti Suzuti Alto K10 — earlier but had to sell it,” Mayank says, excited about his new hot wheels.

Mayank’s father is a head constable in the Delhi police while his mother is a homemaker. He has a seven-year-old brother named Vansh, whose “dream changes everyday”! These days, he wants to become a soldier.

Mayank seems clear about how he will spend his prize money: “I will invest the money in my higher studies. I want to be a robotic engineer. I want to join IIT-Delhi. That’s my dream.”

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