Review: ‘Salute Siachen’ Takes Celebs on a Trek to Remember
A journey of actors, sports people and models as they climb the Siachen glacier as a tribute to the Indian Army.
Web entertainment in India is flourishing by leaps and bounds and it’s heartening to see leading production houses supporting a variety of original content that’s by and large missing from our big screens. The latest player in the arena is Eros Now. And instead of going for yet another work of fiction, they have flagged off their web segment with Salute Siachen, a 5-part original series which documents the journey of nine celebrities up the dreaded Siachen glacier. The goal? To pay a tribute to the Indian Army, who brave extreme conditions to man the Siachen base at 15,632 feet above sea-level.
Headed by Arjun Rampal, the participants who went on the 20-day trek last August include actors Rannvijay Singha, Arunoday Singh, Hasan Zaidi and Sonnalli Seygall, model Namrata Gujaran, cricketer Rudra Pratap Singh, hockey player Yuvraj Walmiki and Haraamkhor director Shlok Sharma. Shlok has also directed the series.
Shot in the format of a documentary (and 60 per cent of it on smartphones as the terrain makes it impossible to carry heavy camera equipment) interspersed with little nuggets of information about Siachen glacier and mountaineering in general, Salute Siachen is not what you would usually expect out of an Indian web series.
What really works is the documentary-cum-travelogue format and the fact that it has been mostly shot on smartphones. The celebs, none of whom have professional trekking experience, share a lot of moments of the adventure through their phones, bringing the audience closer to what they see and feel. So you can hear them gasp for breath or the clang of an ice axe as it hits a glacial wall through jerky phone shots and selfie videos that make the experience way more real than it would have in a well-shot television documentary.
It’s also what makes the celebrities feel human - away from the starry lens through which they are usually seen.
It also gives the audience a up-close-and-personal peek into the rapid and destructive impact of of global warming on a unique eco-system. The sequence where the participants check out the only remaining ice-cave in Siachen is visually way more compelling than the reams written on them.
While the series could do with crisper editing in a couple of places, it balances out well on the whole, focusing as it does on the human factor - individuals coming together as a team to battle the elements. And we would have definitely liked to have seen more of the super spunky mountaineer Dilshad Master Kumar, who led the group in the adventure.
What the series is also steeped in is patriotism - a rather troubling term in these unsettling times. In every episode, a large chunk of the narrative revolves around how the celebs are doing this as a tribute to the Army and the definitely incredible work they do - in Siachen and elsewhere. Let’s just say, it just stops short (thankfully) of jingoism.
Salute Siachen is an engaging piece of work, both for its conceptualisation and execution. And its importance lies in bringing together celebrities to experience and highlight something way more meaningful than cat fighting in a reality show.
The episodes are available on Eros Now.
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