Inside Edge review: A saucy insider take on the edgy world of cricket, movies and the lust for power
Director: Karan Anshuman
I have a (sports noob) theory about why Excel Entertainment's Amazon series is called Inside Edge (apart from the fact that it's an actual cricket jargon). Could it be because it gives you an edgy and insider take on what happens in the world of a cricket premiere league?
Two minutes into the first episode of Inside Edge, you'll realise that it actually does. There are very few sequences of people playing cricket, and a lot more sequences of what happens behind the scene. Straight off the bat (pun intended), one of the biggest successes of the web-series is that you immediately start to draw hypothetical parallels to the characters and the situations in the show.
It's a no-brainer that Inside Edge is a fictional take on the Indian Premiere League. The trailer itself informed us that there was going to be a lot of sex, drama and scandals in the show, and after having binge-watched the whole series, I can safely say, there really was.
Arvind Vashist (Angad Bedi) and Niranjan Suri (Sanjay Suri) are the Mumbai Mavericks' captain and coach respectively. One of the owners of the league is Zarina Malik (Richa Chadha), who has a whole narrative arc with the other owner of the league — the (supposedly) suave and demonic Vikrant Dhawan (Vivek Oberoi). They keep sparring over issues related the team, endorsements and there's a sense of oneupmanship between them.
There's also Vayu Ragahavan (Tanuj Virwani), who is the Yuvraj Singh/Virat Kohli equivalent in the team — brash, aggressive personality, messed-up but with a heart of gold. His sister, Rohini Raghavan (Sayani Gupta) is the Mavericks' analyst; she's the one who tells them what works and what doesn't in terms of technique.
There's also a lovely juxtaposition between the team's oldest member, Devender Mishra (Amit Sial), and its newest member, Prashant Kanaujia (Siddhant Chaturvedi). Both belong to the same district in UP, and while to the world it looks like a mentor-mentee relationship, Mishra regularly harasses Kanaujia for being Dalit.
The issues in the Power Play League (PPL) universe — match-fixing, corruption within the team, how sex is used as a tool by everyone to get what they want, infidelity between forever-touring sportsman and their spouses — are the right balance between being dramatic and sensationalist.
Would you believe it if I said I didn't consult google/imdb for any of their names or characters? It's been three days since I watched the show, and I remember each and every character's nuances like I wrote them myself. This is Inside Edge's biggest win — well-defined characters from the protagonists to the supporting roles.
Kudos to Karan Anshuman (the creator and director of the series) for making some of best sequences I've seen on the small screen. Not only are they very well edited (each episode starts and ends with a bang), they are superbly shot too. The show makes us see Mumbai in a whole new light.
One such sequence involves Vayu Raghavan and his sister. Vayu has a bit of a drug problem, and on the day of a crucial match, goes missing. Rohini finds him passed out in a parking lot, after having taken a concoction of drugs. What follows is a countdown sequence — they have exactly 60 minutes to get him ready to play in the match. 3 cold showers, 1 steam and a breakfast later, he's finally ready, but how they get there is a treat to watch. This is one of the best scenes in the series.
All the actors in Inside Edge have acted their part well.
You believe Richa Chadha's eyes when she doesn't say much, but emerges face first from a tub full of water, smoking a cigarette in stress. You believe Angad Bedi's body language as the captain of the Mavericks; he's the glue that sticks the whole team together through its many controversies. I have to mention here how in Pink, Bedi really makes you hate him, and in Inside Edge he really makes you side with him. Special mention to Siddhanth Chaturvedi and Richa Chadha, whose performances were some of my favourites.
That's not to say that the show doesn't have its flaws. There are some moments that are just cringe-worthy, it terms of corniness. There's a death in the show (I won't tell you who) that I predicted in episode two. Some of the "twists" are executed in a very haphazard manner, often leaving you with more questions than answers (and not in a good way).
And finally, Inside Edge's biggest let down is Vivek Oberoi.
His performance of Vikrant Dhawan is over-acted, over done and extremely conceited. This is a travesty only because Oberoi can act. He has great screen presence too. If he had just toned down his performance, the natural evil within his character would come out far more than it currently does. Right now, he is hamming the antagonist act.
Inside Edge is truly a guilty pleasure watch, because it lends itself well to the TV format. The episodic hooks leave you wanting more, secrets dominate the thrill factor in the narrative, there's a proper underdog and an over-achiever who get you invested in character journeys, and most of all, the episodes are crisp and well-performed.