Ranveer Singh joined the esteemed company of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ‘Canadian’ Akshay Kumar by appearing alongside adventurer, survival expert and Man vs. Wild presenter Bear Grylls in his special 70-minute “choose-your-own-adventure” Netflix episode on Friday. But to put it in charitable terms, the final results of Ranveer vs Wild are more unconvincing than unmissable.
The problem exists from the get-go, as the duo find themselves in rural Serbia in search of Ramonda Serbica, a flower native to the Balkan nation, as a gift for his wife, Deepika Padukone. Ranveer has a 36-hour deadline to traverse across the hilly wilderness to the flower’s location, with Grylls helping and guiding him every step of the way, set to Ranveer’s voiceover narration.
Despite sounding like a good enough idea on paper to pair these two individuals, the central premise doesn’t lend itself to interesting enough scenarios. Ranveer’s exuberant bilingual over-acting rarely ends up gelling with Bear Grylls’ more deadpan humour.
As evident from one of the earliest attempted jokes with Ranveer “mistakenly” marking his forehead with wolf scat and inspiring Bear to do the same, the chemistry between the duo fails to develop, making it a wooden, stop-start affair.
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Interactive style doesn’t work
Like a standup comedian slowly bombing their one-hour special, Ranveer vs Wild just plods along to fill the release slot, ultimately appearing more awkward and dull than being “trashy” enough to hook you, which is perhaps the biggest crime any piece of reality TV can commit.
Similarly, the novelty of the interactive “choose-your-own-adventure” wears off quickly as Ranveer spends more time cracking PJs, mentioning Deepika Padukone and over-explaining to the camera rather than performing the necessary tasks.
Be it tyroleaning vs. rappelling, or recovering a GPS vs. going old-school, the pairing of choices is logical enough. But in practice, the interactive style ends up leading to abrupt transitions between scenes rather than a tightly produced depiction of an arduous adventure that flows well.
Perhaps the “choose-your-adventure” style simply doesn’t translate well to a nonfiction TV show or a film compared to a children’s educational video game or a Give Yourself Goosebumps book, but it is hard to truly tell when the final product is as lazily thought out and put together as Ranveer vs Wild.
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Who does it appeal to?
The sole selling points, if any, are the Serbian scenery, which the production team should have arguably done more with, and Bear’s presentation, which is educational when it needs to be, with the odd attempted joke here and there, more or less in line with the quality of presentation he has been putting out since 2006.
But ultimately, it is difficult to figure out who this project appeals to the most—Ranveer superfans will love the Ranveer-isms but zone out at Bear’s numerous lessons. Survivalist nerds will be satisfied enough with more Bear content but not necessarily buy into the duo, despite Ranveer impressively flying through the tasks.
“I think, maybe stick to the acting, Ranveer,” quips Bear in response to Ranveer’s joke about being the only tiger in a forest dominated by ‘Bears’ and wolves. The unfortunate irony is that it applies to Netflix’s decision to greenlight this entire episode.
(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)