Online streaming platforms gave the entertainment sector a new life with youthful short format and funny videos with their different takes on the urban society. But these soon became repetitive. Now, there is a wind of change as Eros Now, the online platform for Eros International, plans Salute Siachen, a celebrity expedition that will be documented and streamed on the online platform.
Salute Siachen, an adventure-reality documentary, will give the audience a peek into the lives of soldiers guarding the Siachen glacier, a terrain that was not open to civilians at all until 2007.
Every year, a group of trekkers (30-40 persons) is chosen by the Army Adventure Wing to trek from the Siachen base camp to Kumar Base—named after Col Narendra Kumar, who ensured India’s presence at Siachen, the world’s longest non-polar glacier.
The 81-year-old Colonel, who was present during the announcement of the show, observed that while this would not be the first time that a non-defence person was climbing the hill, this expedition is different because of two factors. "Firstly, because these nine people are celebrities and, secondly, because earlier everybody took a helicopter but these celebrities are daring enough to go there by foot."
In 1978, as the principal of National Ski School, Kumar took two German expeditors to navigate the upper reaches of the Indus river in Ladakh, on the commandment of Sheikh Abdullah Sahab, the then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. One of the explorers returned to India two years later. He asked Kumar to join him on an expedition to the Nubra Valley, which separates Ladakh from the Karakoram ranges. The German pointed out that the area was in Pakistan. Kumar did not believe the American map, but, the duo returned with evidence of litter left by trespassers from Pakistan. In April, 1981 Colonel Kumar became the first person to scale Siachen, claiming it single-handedly for India.
Kumar wanted to celebrate the 35th anniversary of his achievement by giving the country a glimpse of life at Siachen. His daughter-in-law, Dilshad Master Kumar, a mountaineer herself, came up with the idea. "A group of civilians have been trekking the glacier every year, but this will give the soldiers and their life on the glacier much more publicity than any story written about them," said Kumar.
According to Zulfiqar Khan, the business head at Eros Now, the streaming is not being planned as a regular show. He says that it is not a commercial project but a 'passion' project to bring out some of the glorious achievements from the country’s history. "When I talk to young people, most of the time they are either unaware or partly aware of such glorious facts from our history. It is necessary to bring it back in an interesting way," he says.
In fact, the descriptive format of the show will only be planned out after the expedition. "It is an unchartered territory and every participant will go through their own journey and we will try to document as much as we can and they decide how to take it forward," Khan said. The team will begin their trek on the morning of 15 August and will go on for the next 20 days.
The team of celebrities include actors Arjun Rampal, Arunoday Singh, Sonnalli Seygall, cricketer Rudra Pratap Singh, hockey player Yuvraj Valmiki, TV heartthrob Rannvijay Singh, Namrata Gujaran and Hasan Zaidi. Each celebrity has his own reason to be in the squad. While Arjun Rampal’s grandfather was in the army and had climbed Siachen and put the first gun there, for Valmiki it is his dedication towards the country.