VJ and actor Rannvijay wants kids to move out and challenge themselves, just as he did

The next season of MTV Roadies will be its tenth. The series, with its peculiar mix of realpolitik and daredevilry, has won fans and detractors in equal measure. Some of them complain that it initiated the network’s phasing out of its music programming. But it certainly consolidated, if not unleashed, the energies of reality television among Indian audiences.

The fortunes of the show and network have been intertwined with Rannvijay, the boy from Jalandhar who won the first season, hosted every subsequent season and several other shows on MTV, and is now nothing short of a youth icon. His latest venture is aimed at a different demographic, however.

At The Lalit to launch Rocksport Challenge, Rannvijay describes the concept, his brainchild, as “an adventure race that tests the physical and mental strength of a team while assessing their combined leadership qualities.” The challenge will be conducted in two categories – the junior challenge for classes 6 to 8 and the senior challenge for classes 9 to 12. In due course of time, Rannvijay wants to take the concept to colleges and offices as well.

He is in his “work-mode” and has not slept the previous night. So over a cup of coffee, he delves further into his latest mission. “While growing up, we were just mucking about outside. It was one of the reasons we grew up so well. But kids today want to either “hang out” at a mall or “chill out” at a hookah bar. But it’s not their fault either. They don’t have the options anymore”

“A lot of people abroad are into canoeing and windsurfing. But here it is a post retirement plan. But it shouldn’t be like that. It should be a lifestyle option. We have to be one with nature,” he adds passionately.

Counting himself lucky to have a work schedule which is half filled with adventure, Rannvijay hopes the challenge will instil in kids the same sense of adventure and a love for the outdoors; and that they get a few scratches on the way.

Remembering the events that led to his current career, Rannvijay bluntly concedes that it was the greed for a Karizma, the Hero Honda bike which was the prize for a roadie, that unsettled his and his parents’ plan for getting into the Indian Military Academy, whose preliminary exams he had already cleared.

A basketball player who studied Commerce in Hansraj College, Delhi University, Rannvijay does not betray the “sportsie” stereotype. “When I was in College, I used to eat a lot of junk food. We used to get individual allowances from college, which we’d pool together and order samosas with. Our typical day would have dosa, maggi, gulab jamun, chai and samosas.”

He distinctly remembers the food joints of North Campus, which, he alleges, would put a not-so-delicious Indian spin on every cuisine. North campus probably retains its character, at least in this regard, but a lot has changed for Rannvijay since.

“After college, the two major things in my life have been activities and food. When you travel abroad, hotels become a part of your life. So every time I went to a new place I learnt a lot about its food,” he says.

Rannvijay finds that the eating culture has improved greatly in Delhi. “Earlier it was just butter chicken and tandoori roti, but now things are changing. Al Kauser still has its charm, but you don’t find people entering a restaurant and asking “yahaan pe accha kya milta hai” (what’s good to eat here?) anymore,” he says.

Over the last few years Rannvijay has also cast off his reality TV trappings and entered the film industry through films like Toss, Action Replayy and London Dreams. Though it’s claimed that reality TV is as dramatized as any drama, Rannvijay says there is no difference in his television persona and real life. For the same reason, he says, “when someone congratulates me on what I have done in a film, it gives me a great rush.”

Rannvijay has also acted in a few Punjabi films. They are different in that in the Punjab film industry “investments are really low, but potential for profits is really high.” But according to him, they have both failed to deliver sports films consistently.

They are not very far, Rannvijay will have us believe. With Rocksport Challenge, he has already provided a shot in the arm to the war on laziness.