Friday, March 24, 2023
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Dear Rajini, Bear Grylls’ Man vs Wild is not about conservation. It’s plain human arrogance 

Filmstar Rajinikanth is all set to appear on Bear Grylls’ show ‘Into the Wild’ Monday night. But it’s nothing wildlife lovers should be excited about.

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Dear Rajini,

I am not sure I want to watch the ‘Into the Wild with Bear Grylls’ episode featuring you (it airs Monday night). 

I am writing to you out of apprehension… It’s the same apprehension with which I wrote to Discovery’s press team as soon as I heard about the shooting of the episode inside the Bandipur National Park. 

The press team told me that Into the Wild with Bear Grylls is inspired by the Man Vs Wild series, and that it’s the same series that included an episode with Prime Minister Modi, which was shot at the Jim Corbett National Park and broadcast last year. I have not watched this episode either because the “sneak peak” — where Grylls takes out a spear and says “if a tiger comes…” — was enough to turn me away. 

In our country, tigers are given the highest level of protection under the Wildlife Protection Act. The animal is also revered for larger conservation purposes — many of our policies revolve around the idea that if you “save the tiger, you save the forest”. 

Now, I am sure that you are aware of all of this. What I cannot understand is, why Bear Grylls? Why work with someone who thinks of our shared space as ‘Man vs Wild’? It’s a format that pushes for a confrontational attitude where people are encouraged to enter wildlife habitats — like Bandipur and Corbett that are legally protected, especially for wildlife — and then get into “battle-mode”. Sheer stupidity aside, such attitudes go directly against conservation values. 

So, what kind of message do you think this ‘Man vs Wild’ theme sends about wildlife conservation? 

Also Read: Why conservationists are upset with Rajinikanth, Akshay Kumar & Bear Grylls of Man vs Wild

‘Unnecessary intrusions’

Bandipur is also a tiger reserve and I’d hate to see Grylls walking around the area with a spear.

The Discovery press team said that you agreed to make your TV debut with Into the Wild because you believe that it is “a truly unique show” that offers “adrenaline-pumping action” and also “lends itself beautifully to driving a specific purpose for the larger good of society”. Where is this “larger good”? How is disturbing wildlife habitats with unnecessary intrusions serving a “larger good”?

Nevertheless, the team claimed success with the PM Modi episode, saying it “generated much desired attention on conservation of wildlife”. 

I was also informed that your episode with Grylls is about raising awareness about water conservation. I fail to see why this “awareness” had to be raised from within the boundaries of a protected wildlife habitat with a ‘Man vs Wild’ format. 

I fear that more such episodes will be shot within protected areas around the world, more such carefully planned ‘Man vs Wild’ adventures will be led into wildlife habitats for the “larger good”, and more people will be led to believe that shows like this should be emulated in real life to experience “truer” forms of adventure when, in reality, human-centric arrogance lies at the core of such productions.

Here’s hoping that wilderness survival shows stop their fight against wildlife and that you turn around, with your signature sunglass move, and announce to the world that ‘Man vs Wild’ is an idea that should die soon.

The writer is a Bengaluru-based freelance journalist

Also Read: Does Rajinikanth need ‘Man vs Wild’ to prove that he can be a successful politician like Modi?


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  1. It’s amazing how concerned we are about protecting animals, but don’t give a whit about butchering babies in the womb (abortion) in millions. Can we find a single article in ‘The Print’ addressing that evil so prevalent in our midst? No.
    Yes, I think, we should do our best to protect animals. Before that let us do something to protect babies: at least let us start speaking against that heinous act. Human life is far more sacred and important than animals.

    • Hahahahha. Wow. Wtf are you talking about? Survival? Or making a decision to not have a child? Let’s abort that tigers baby and then kill it and save the brain for your thick skull.

  2. I can agree on a few points and disagree on others. Traditionally, some of the shows which Bear Grylls has done in the past (MvW, Running wild with BG) have been needlessly brutal. I have seen a rattle snake being chopped off for food and alligator being killed for dinner. Probably that’s why shows of similar format couldn’t be shot in India. Such acts would have been in contravention of the law and the public would have burned their ass off. The current series being shot in India ( Into the wild with BG) taps into the Indian ethos of wildlife conservation and environment preservation. Would expect better research in the future.

  3. Clearly you don’t know how “Into the Wild” is shot. It is a written script where they know exactly where they are going and what animals they will meet. Bandipur is an amazing National reserve and I have been following them for long. They have 24*7 tracking of all the tigers ever since Aircel started the campaign to save our tigers. If this is your problem with this featurette, then please do some ground-work before you write an article. If it ain’t, then I’m afraid you’ve got bigger problems with either Modi or Rajini. And if that’s the case, then you are not adhering to the broader journalism standards.

    I understand how hurtful these comments can be, but it wasn’t my intention to hurt you. It would just be better to have a more informative and unbiased opinion on something that isn’t political. These shows promote awareness about the wildlife reserves of our country. So please don’t try to indulge your political inclinations on articles that have nothing to do with it. I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you.

  4. Rishika, first and foremost… I am not writing this response because its about Rajini or Modi, but about your interpretation of the series… this has nothing to do with confronting the wild animals (they are just incidental events), it is primarily about dealing with an environment that could be hostile or wild to you as an individual – a challenge that you have not done before and conquering the fears.

    This is primarily a vehicle for leaders or someone who has a fan-following to use the medium to share good thoughts and ideals. Watch Federer’s in the Swiss wilderness or Obama in the US wilderness – it has nothing to do with human arrogance, just like how this is not.

  5. Dear Ms Pardikar,

    I understand your disappointment regarding this TV Series, and I also agree with some of the points you have raised. However, if you would give the show a chance and watch what happens in the actual episode, there are conservation messages being spread through the show. And unlike what Man VS. Wild may imply in being confrontational, in the PM Modi episode it is reinforced time and time again that the participants of the expedition should not see this as being against nature, but instead they should be cooperating with nature. There are some good takeaways to obtain from the show, should we choose to see these benefits. However, I do agree that many of the guests that come on the show do preach ideas that they may not believe in or even act on. Regardless, I would not blame the show for that, I would blame the guests. And in general, trailers or teasers alike tend to overemphasize and create controversy in the hopes that it will create discussion, which would then equate to more views. In a nutshell, all I’m trying to say is that there’s good things worth viewing in the show, but there are poor qualities which are undeniable as well.

  6. It’s an great article Rishika
    It’s true that they don’t really get in to wild or do real adventure..just posing for the sake of proving something like this stupid water thing..everybody knows water is a problem here we don’t need awareness we need solution and inthe sneakpeek bear is tieing rajinis shoelace that’s really toofar..

  7. Genius,
    He won’t tell PM modi to kill tiger with a spear. He just tells him to drive away the tiger he can use the spear.

    Also, killing tigers are all illegal in india. Even if they had encountered they are not supposed to kill it. They will choose area to make sure that wild animals don’t intrude.

    Mostly into the wild is about survival in forests and not about killing anything

  8. When you are saying man vs Bandipur animals is just shows arrogance, by taking the title by it’s littral sense just shows that you didn’t really understood the purpose of the program. It’s a survival guide program just to show people how you can survive in a Jungle when u encounter such situations, it doesn’t really suggests you to Jungle and kill animals or fight it. it’s all about survival, doesn’t matter where they shoot which country they shoot or with whom they shoot. It’s not at all about bandipura jungle, since he is shooting with Indian star they chose a indian Jungle. Nowadays some people find problem in everything they see, i guess it’s only to get some cheap publicity they don’t really care about anything.

    • No, “genius”!

      The Bhaskardeva doesn’t revolve around “the Messiah” aka your “DashAvatāra”.

      So it’s a non-AADHAR® authenticated presence like yours truly who’s making it about “Him”. Beyond a necessitated passing-reference, there’s not a single thing about “Him” in the whole blog-post.
      But even if by some “Vedic Science”: Let’s believe that’s indeed the motivation. At least significantly, if not entirely.
      Then, your ad hominem( spelling-out: blatant personal-attack) still *falters* because the said “arrogant” of a “Colonial” descent, Sir Grylls doesn’t have the required authority to wantonly invite whomsoever on “his show” as he pleases. Now only if you knew how International Television works. Or to simplify a-gain: Knew to have enough of attention-span to stick your eyes at the ToA flipping credits at the end of that Special. Hint, hint: A Hollywood*-based indie ANONYMOUS® CONTENT was also involved!

      *Unlike the derivative-noun ‘Bollyweird’, “Hollywood” is a metonym taken from an actual hub-city in the relevant region. Which, in turns: Removes the necessity to be precise for the aforementioned object of a proper-noun.

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