Rannvijay Singha opens up on SquadRann, evolution of Roadies, and the rise of OTT

Recently, Rannvijay Singha’s SquadRann, which is a group of athletes and social media influencers, collaborated with William Lawson’s and Mumbai Indians in a #NoRulesCricket Trick Shot Competition video. Apart from Rannvijay, SquadRann comprised VJ and athlete Varun Sood, actor and creative director Harman Singha, and actor Vicky Arora.

That apart, his series Mismatched recently released on Netflix, with work underway on the second season of the show. Roadies is on air, and Splitsvilla will be shot soon. If that wasn’t enough, busybee Rannvijay is also shooting another web series, whose release date and platform are being decided, apart from other content which he is creating for YouTube. In a candid conversation, Rannvijay speaks about SquadRann, Roadies journey, and the emergence of OTT. Excerpts from the interview:

How was it collaborating with Mumbai Indians on the video?

Collaborating with Mumbai Indians was amazing! When I started SquadRann, it was to encourage people who are not in mainstream sports like Skateboarders, BMX riders, parkour artistes, stunt riders like Babar Khan, to have a platform where I could connect them to brands like William Lawson’s. The idea is to bring these individuals similar opportunities like other mainstream sportspeople in the form of sponsorships, deals, etc.

How did the concept of SquadRann come about?

In the last 17 years, I met many athletes since most of my brand collaborations would require a biker or a stunt rider. In fact, in one of my shows, Stunt Mania, there would always be a skateboarder, BMX rider, slackliner or a parkour artiste alongside me. The concept and idea of SquadRann occurred to me when I realised these folks were having a hard time financially. There ins’t adequate infrastructure available to them or any support from parents, school/college since they weren’t in the so-called mainstream sports like cricket, football or tennis. These mainstream sportspeople get sponsorships and other opportunities.

In the West, these guys would have been superstars, with brands lining up for them, left right and centre. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. There are not enough extreme sport athletes and the market just isn’t there.

Rannvijay Singha opens up on SquadRann, evolution of Roadies, and the rise of OTT

How do you think Roadies has evolved over the last 17 years?

Roadies has been going strong for 17 years now, and I think it has evolved a lot since I was a contestant. My journey with Roadies was different and unique. I was just 20/21 years old when I started hosting the second season, and most of the contestants were older than me. To be able to stand there and tell them tasks like jump off a building or they will be on fire, I needed to have first-hand experience, especially so that they wouldn’t question me. So I started doing the tasks and Roadies became bigger. By the fourth or fifth season, we went International and everyone on Roadies instantly started becoming famous. We started getting well-prepared contestants who were physically fit and talented. Today, Roadies is an incredibly huge platform. These kids instantly start doing collaborations, web series, etc. Even those who don’t pursue the media, and have family businesses or other ventures they want to go back to, get a marketing push because they develop a social media presence through the massive exposure. It is amazing to see the show’s growth.

What advice would you give to those aspiring to win reality shows?

My advice to reality show participants is to give it their all. If a person participates half-heartedly, they don’t stand a chance to win. One has to be fully committed and do whatever it takes to win. It’s important to understand the nature of the show, learn all tricks of the trade and at the same time, be truthful because one can't fake a personality for too long. It's an easier journey if one is honest from the very beginning.

You are a comics enthusiast, who's your favourite comic character and why?

A lot of seniors in my boarding school had comics, so I got hooked to them, and that drove me to superheroes. Before that, I would read the Commando Comics available in the Army libraries. I like Wolverine because of his attitude and also because of the brilliant manner in which Hugh Jackman brought him alive on screen.

Your favourite Indian superhero?

I also read a lot of Hindi comics at boarding school like Chacha Chaudhary, Super Commando Dhruv and Nagraj. And during our one hour of TV, we would watch Shaktiman every day. Those were my first introductions to Indian superheroes, and I guess, these are my favourites too.

What is your take on the present OTT scene?

I’m very happy with the OTT space getting bigger. It has brought me some interesting opportunities like playing a detective in Kaushiki for Viu, and continue the journey in a second season. Recently, I also played a professor in Mismatched on Netflix. It’s a very good time for me to be an actor, a creator, a producer, and I’m excited as a lot of fun things are happening.

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