Why do we watch Rajinikanth in a programme like Into The Wild by Bear Grylls? It’s largely to satiate the curiosity of how this endearing celebrity will react in potentially uncomfortable situations. Does wildlife scare him? Does the wilderness excite him? What does he get anxious about? How does he respond to stress? How outdoorsy is he? And if like me, you grew up watching him be invincible in cinema, there’s another question: How does he react to being hurt? Of course, you could ask whether such curiosity over a celebrity, even if it’s natural, is healthy at all. That’s a perfectly valid question, but for another day. Here, I’m just saying it exists. Such is the Rajinikanth phenomenon that even Discovery channel, despite the nature of this programme, can’t resist designing a mass introduction scene for him. As Bear Grylls sets about introducing him, we see Rajinikanth, dressed for a trek, arriving on an ATV, as music and multiple slow-mo shots pay homage. This is followed by a short highlight reel from his films—I suppose, to familairise everyone about his existence (you can roll your eyes)—before we can see him step ‘into the wild’.
Featuring: Rajinikanth and Bear Grylls
Streaming on: Discovery+
As they enter the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park, Grylls and Rajini begin warming up to each other by asking tentative questions. “How did you get into the film industry?” “How did you begin doing this show?” Rajinikanth mentions K Balachander, shares that his original name is Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, that his family calls him Shivaji… It’s the sort of information we could blurt out half-asleep. The parts I liked in this show are those where this cinema superstar shows a bit of vulnerability. Like when Grylls says that the park has a lot of snakes and Rajini goes, “My god!”, his eyes betraying anxiety. Or how about when he’s about to be harnessed across a rusty bridge, and he almost resignedly says, “Kadavul irukaar.” The superstar’s legs buckle as he’s rappelling up a ravine after collecting some river water. He’s suffered some cuts on his fingers, and he’s shaking and breathless. It’s hard not to wonder about the miracle of this fragile person being able to achieve such miraculous transformation when the camera is trained on him. You see a glimpse of this when Grylls tries to learn the actor’s famous sunglasses flipping gesture. Anxious and breathless till then, the moment he is handed the glasses, you get a hint of that transformation: of Shivaji instantly transforming into Rajinikanth.
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For the remainder of this review (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), please visit https://www.cinemaexpress.com/reviews/english/2020/mar/24/into-the-wild-with-bear-grylls-and-rajinikanth-review-a-so-so-peek-into-the-man-behind-the-supersta-17722.html