For the last sixteen years, contestants on MTV Roadies have been travelling to different destinations to participate in various tasks that challenge their physical and mental strength. Winners are then decided on vote outs, vote ins, immunity, eliminations, captaincy and twists introduced by producers. Special appearances by guests- actors, sports persons and musicians- are regular features of the show. The current hosts-Rannvijay Singha, Nikhil Chinapa,and Gaelyn Mendonca- who were in Jaipur to inaugurate the city’s first Club Roadie talk to Shailaza Singh about their experiences.
In the last sixteen years, MTV Roadies has not only entertained the Indian audience with some ‘out of the world’ dares but also spread the ‘fitness fever’ amongst the youth. Rannvijay Singha, the host of MTV Roadies says, ‘I think this country has become fitter because of Roadies. If some hundred million people have jumped on to the fitness bandwagon, I can bet 85 percent of them have been inspired by Roadies.’
The three popular roadies, hosts Rannvijay Singha and Gaelyn Mendonca along with VJ and gang leader Nikhil Chinapa were talking about their connection with Roadies and Jaipur at the opening of the first Roadies Club at the Marriott Hotel in Jaipur. The free-wheeling chat was entertaining, spooky and engaging.
Shooting for Roadies.
Rannvijay said, ‘I had a spooky experience while shooting for Roadies 4 sometime back. After finishing our shoot in Chokhi Dhani at about 6:30 am, Raghu Ram, creator of MTV Roadies, Ranjeet Bajaj, an ex-Roadie, another guy and me decided to go to Bhangarh on four bikes since it was our day off. Just like it happens in those horror movies, one of the bikes broke down just outside Jaipur. We left it there and went on the remaining three bikes. Then we were greeted by storm and rain. This was the month of May-June. We took shelter in a small dhaba. Though the thought of going back did come, true to the Roadie spirit, Raghu and I decided that we would finish what we had started. We reached Bhangarh at about 12:30 in the afternoon. The entire place was very still and quiet as usual. There was no one there. We decided to get some shuteye since we had not slept the entire night. In my sleep, I thought I heard some noises of some children playing. I got up and looked around. There was no one. The other three guys were sleeping. After a while, we got up and went back on our bikes. Again, we were greeted by a storm and rain on our way back to Chokhi Dhani. In the night, when we were having food in Chokhi Dhani, Ranjeet who was perhaps the most easily frightened out of all of us told me that he heard some children playing when we were sleeping in Bhangarh. We all looked at him and realized that all of us had heard the same voices. That was spooky.’
So, what would you have done if you had actually encountered a monster in Bhangarh?
Rannvijay laughed and said, ‘ Whenever I go out to such places, I always go in a group. In such situations, my first reaction is to run. But since it is all about the survival of the fittest, I ensure that I am at least faster than one person so that I don’t get to be the prey.’
Gaelyn said, ‘I didn’t have a spooky experience but I had a very interesting experience all the same. Before every Roadie series start, we have a task trial. The crew of the Roadie try out every task before giving it to the gang leaders and the contestants. I have almost always been a happy guinea pig for those trials. I remember in one task we had to mixe the poop of a hippopotamus with the poop of an elephant. By the time I finished it, I was stinking but since we were in an open field, we had no bathrooms, so I had to spray a lot of deodorant and get ready for the show.’
‘I had no such experience,’ said Nikhil, ‘but I get very frustrated when I see people with big muscles and small brains. I don’t know what to do with people who say that they are physically very strong but don’t know how to row a boat or use a catapult or how to climb a rope. They don’t have the basic life skills and come to roadies after years of building muscles just by drinking protein shakes. I keep asking them how did they survive life so far without knowing how to play marbles or fly kites or bows and arrows.’
Changes in Jaipur Youth
Rannvijay said, ‘ My connection with Jaipur is very deep. My father is from the Rajputana rifles so we a lot of friends here. Also, in the last ten years, Jaipur has been voted as one of the ten best cities to settle down because of the quality of life one can get here. Earlier when I used to come here, I used to talk to people and they used to say that they had to go to Delhi or Mumbai for their careers or to study. In the last decade, things have changed. Everything including all brands, clubs, educational institutes are here. You have bigger houses, better roads (comparatively).There are more opportunities to do your own business in your own city are more as opposed to going to a bigger city and trying to find a footing there . I have realized that more and more young people are coming back to Jaipur and settling here which is good because the cost of living is low and quality of life is high. People no longer feel the need to go to Delhi and party or go to study elsewhere. Talk about parties or studies or careers, Jaipur has everything. Once I went to a party in Nyla Bagh and I realized that this party could even have been in Brazil.’
Nikhil agreed, ‘ I remember some fifteen years ago, there was a Maan Industrial Estate where they held parties that were awesome. In fact, I believe Jaipur has better opportunities in sports too because here you have relatively a few million people and more grounds as compared to twenty million people in a metropolitan city and the ever-increasing dearth of space due to increasing cemented jungle.’
Rannvijay feels that everything is homogenized because of the media and internet. ‘The youngsters today are following the same kind of people, same kind of fashion, same brands and opportunities.’ Agreed Gaelyn, ‘These days, it is even very difficult to know where a contestant is from unless he has a very strong original flavor of the place either in his speech or accent or mannerisms.’
So does that mean we are losing the local flavor with all this homogenization?
Rannvijay had a different point of view. ‘My parents wanted me to learn the Punjabi language, so they taught me. This homogenization is not technology’s fault. If parents and community want to ensure that the youth learn something about the culture and don’t lose out on it, they need to take the initiative.’ Nikhil agreed, ‘you can be anything you want to be. You need to create your own identity. It’s your choice.’
I realized that the Roadies were right. Life is all about choices and carving your own path. You don’t have to lose your identity to be a part of the crowd. As Gaelyn said, ‘You can be modern and yet be cultured. You don’t have to lose your identity just to be ‘with it.’
Published Author, Poet and Youtuber
This article on MTV Roadies was published in Rashtradoot Newspaper’s Arbit Section on 29 November 2019.