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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

What went into PM Modi’s wild adventure with Bear Grylls

Proceeds from the Man vs Wild show with Bear Grylls and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shot in Corbett in February, and aired on Monday night on Discovery channel, will be donated for a national cause, according to officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and the broadcaster.

india Updated: Aug 13, 2019 00:03 IST
Sunetra Choudhury and Kumar Uttam
Sunetra Choudhury and Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi features on Man vs Wild. (Photo Courtesy: Discovery channel)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi features on Man vs Wild. (Photo Courtesy: Discovery channel)
         

Proceeds from the Man vs Wild show with Bear Grylls and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shot in Corbett in February, and aired on Monday night on Discovery channel, will be donated for a national cause, according to officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and the broadcaster.

According to officials, the channel is looking at supporting wildlife conservation in India. “The proceeds will go towards conservation. We are figuring out with the PMO if it will go to tiger conservation, the PM Relief Fund, or for Namami Gange,” said a Discovery spokesperson.

The Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, where the show was shot, has at least 250 tigers according to forest officials who based their estimate on the latest national tiger count according to which the number of big cats in the state increased to 442 in 2018 from 340 in 2010. Overall, India has 2,987 tigers according to the latest count, up from 2,226 in 2014.

The show was aired across 165 countries.

The officials cited in the first instance also revealed some of the behind-the-scenes moves during the filming of the show.

One of the biggest challenges, they said,was to decide on what Grylls would and could get the PM to do.

“In President Obama’s show, they went looking for food and then grilled and ate salmon which a bear had half-eaten. We told the producers that PM Modi was vegetarian and that they would have to be imaginative and think of different kind of challenges,” said one of them, who was also present in Corbett during the shoot.

Given time and weather (it was unseasonally rainy this February) , the team eventually decided on three challenges. They would make tea using hot water and sweet neem (curry leaf). And they would use a makeshift raft to cross the river. “Getting the PM to smell elephant dung was also something the producers thought of,” the officer added. Even during the crossing, the officer said, the risk was minimal, because there were Special Protection Group officers around.

“During the planning, there were various officers and departments that were involved. From the SPG, to the communications department and of course, forest officials for various kinds of permits. What they didn’t plan for was the bad weather, which meant that certain tasks had to be done away with,” the officer added, refusing to elaborate on what these were.

The fact that PM Modi is extremely comfortable with the camera helped and there were no retakes, the officer said.

Modi didn’t take anything with him during the shoot to make the experience “as wild as it could have been” and he chose the clothes he wore during the shoot, the officer said. Grylls was inquisitive about the time Modi spent in the Himalayas as a young man, and chatted with him about that.

In one of the exchanges with the host of the popular survival show, the Prime Minister spoke about why it was important for young people to see life in its entirely and not in fragmented pieces. If they did that, he added, they would realise that there would be ups and downs in life.