Netflix’ reality game show “The Calling” pits three Indians against each other in a test of skills and personal knowledge of each other as they travel India checking items off their bucket list and earning miles toward the Grand Experience and a scholarship. Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are the lucky contestants who are traveling together and, at least up through episode seven, nominally competing against each other.
Each almost-30-minute show begins with a challenge related
to the area they have traveled to. One show, they tied ribbons on Yak horns. Another
show, they tried to steal pineapples while dodging arrows shot by local hunters.
The winner of the challenge gets 1,000 points and the grand experience for that
The losers of the challenge must curate an experience for
the winner based on two choices given them. Once the two experiences are over,
the winner chooses who made the better experience. That person gets to go to
the grand experience with the winner and 900 miles. The person, who’s
experience isn’t chosen, gets 800 miles. At the end of the season, the person
with the most miles will get a scholarship.
This show works as a quick showcase of India and the
possibilities of tourist travel. It also exposes parts of Indian culture that
people may not be aware of. It doesn’t work as much of a competition because
the dynamics of the three travelers tends to make them friends first and
competitors second. It would be difficult for three people who competed in a cutthroat
manner to travel together, Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are aware of this.
However, through the course of their travels, each of them
faces very personal challenges, and they need the support of their traveling companions
to overcome the problem. In one episode, the support actually led to the person
having the problem winning the challenge. It’s inspiring and nice, and it
challenges what Americans know from their own reality shows. “The Calling”
shows that people can compete and do so with integrity, respect, joy, and compassion.
Preethi, Guarav, and Atmaj are enjoying each other’s company and the experience
while having fun.