Aman Bisht was 19 when he left home, the remote village of Pabhe in Pithoragarh, to go make a living in Maharashtra. He had studied up to Class X, had limited prospects at home. He found work as a cook. It didn’t pay much — just enough to get by. But the little he could count on was gone when he lost his job in March. Like lakhs in India, he made his way back home, knowing there was little to look forward to except mounting debt and hopelessness.
What was initially a reprieve — the IPL fantasy league — eventually turned his luck around. He won Rs 1 crore by making all the right calls in a game between the Punjab and
Innumerable apps have made fantasy leagues, in which anyone can “create” a dream team of players whose real-time performance reflects on how the fantasy points accumulate, more accessible. And for several youths from the hill state, what is usually a pastime has made them crorepatis.
“My parents are small farmers. They only produce enough for us to get by. There isn’t even enough to sell in a market,” said Aman, now 25. “We have always lived hand to mouth. This was a windfall.”
It was the same for Darshan Singh Bisht, 24, who worked as a cook at an eatery in Jaipur but lost his job in April — he had to come back home to Thala village in
And for Bhagat Singh Khatri, who was 11 when his father died after being electrocuted doing his work as an electrical operator. Two years later, he moved out of his village, Lal Nagari in
’s Almora, in search of work. Now 24, he would work as a helper in taxi services in Gujarat and Delhi. Then, he came home to work as a labourer. He had to support his mother and siblings.
Bhagat won a crore in a game between the Kolkata and Hyderabad teams. “You only need basic knowledge of
. I used to place two to three entries in a match and focused on players whom few others selected. I would make high-risk teams,” said Bhagat.
Some financial investment would also be involved. “I spent about Rs 5,000-6,000 on
the fantasy league
. But it paid off,” said Aman. Bhagat had spent even more — about Rs 45,000. “But I don’t think I’ll play any more. I have made enough,” he said. In fact, he has used most of the money — it was down to Rs 70 lakh after taxes — to pay off debts and help a few neighbours out. “I have seen tough times. I don’t want anyone else to.”
Darshan, meanwhile, plans a startup with his winnings. And Aman is thinking of a restaurant.