Early on in the new Netflix reality show Ranveer Singh vs Wild with Bear Grylls, the actor says the purpose behind taking a journey into the jungles of Serbia with adventurer and survival specialist Bear Grylls is “to get in touch with my primal self”. We realise as the show progresses that it is only partly that. This is not an adventure for the sake of adventure, but a staged, grandiose romance. Why is he in Serbia and what is his goal? It is to fetch the rare Serbica Ramonda, a flower that grows on mountainous terrains in Serbia and blooms through the year withstanding seasonal changes as well as harsh weather. He fetches it for his wife Deepika Padukone, a gesture supposed to be emblematic for the love of his life.
Bear Grylls charts a journey that involves eating testicles of dead pigs, walking over snakes inside a dark, narrow cave, climbing a steep, jagged mountain with rappelling tolls and harnesses, sleeping under dry leaves and converting his underwear into flaming torch of fire. As soon as the show dropped on July 8, memes inspired by it poured out on social media.
A lot of the action is, of course, staged, and Singh is generous with his Indian fans. A lot of his pieces to the camera are in Hindi, talking to the audience. To motivate himself for the next dreaded push towards his goal, he says, “Jai Bajrang Bali!” or “Jai Shiv Shambhu!” The interactive element in the show is peripheral. Audiences choose some options for him through the journey that will make the journey easier or tougher.
There are some laugh-out-loud moments in this bromance of sorts—Singh is joined by a friend in one leg of the adventure. Man versus nature, testosterone and adrenalin versus nature and unpredictability are the overall ideas, but Singh’s enthusiasm to emphasise that he is also a man with the feels, a man who cries and gushes over his star wife’s ethereal beauty and singularity every now and then, is relentless.