It was telecasted more than a month ago, but I watched the Discovery Channel’s Man vs Wild program only today. In this much-advertised episode, the host Bear Grylls takes the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Mr Narenda Modi on a short walk inside the jungle of Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.

I have been to this park, one of the largest in India and the home to Bengal Tigers and many other wild animals – when we went in the summer of  2015 we were not allowed inside the core jungle and so we saw only birds, monkeys and deers.

Venkatarangan visit to Jim Corbett National Park
Venkatarangan’s visit to Jim Corbett National Park

I watched the show on Netflix India and it was better than I expected. Yes, it was evident the program was entirely scripted and the short walk (~20 minutes) was on open plains with a difficulty level of not more than a stroll in a city park. This was understandable for a man who is holding the most important office of the world’s largest democracy.

Mr Bear Grylls was being careful to please the PM, and, the Prime Minister spoke what seems to have been pre-approved by his communications team and well recursed. Mr Modi spoke in Hindi for questions asked to him in English by Mr Grylls – for viewers like me (who don’t speak Hindi) there were sub-titles, but I was wondering on how Mr Grylls understood the answers spoken in Hindi and responded correctly. The PM had shed some light on how it worked during his monthly radio show “Mann Ki Baat” as below:

Some people ask me one thing, ‘Modi ji, you were speaking in Hindi and Bear Grylls does not know Hindi, so how did you carry on such a fast conversation between the two of you? People were also curious to know if their conversation was edited and how many times they had to shoot. The reality is that technology was used extensively in my conversation with Bear Grylls. Whenever I spoke, immediately there was a simultaneous translation into English or simultaneous interpretation in his ear. So I used to speak in Hindi, but he heard in English and because of that the communication became very easy and this is an amazing aspect of technology  – Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi

I learnt a bit about the lesser-known pages of Mr Modi‘s childhood. Overall, I found the program to be a short fun watch, and I welcome PM’s willingness to participate in such an unconventional interview. I am sure it served its purpose of being an advertisement for Jim Corbett National Park and a fine invitation to India – “Atithi Devo Bhava“!

The program is available on Netflix India.

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