Inside Edge makers Karan Anshuman, Kanishk Varma on striking back with Season 3: Cricket never gets old
It was always the intention of Inside Edge to celebrate good cricket and test cricket, which is the ultimate form of the game, the duo said
Karan Anshuman & Kanishk Varma, creator and director of Inside Edge, speak to Firstpost on the shows third season. The following is an edited excerpt from the interview.
This is the third season of Inside Edge? Why did you think the story needed to go on?
Karan Anshuman - It's more than just that. In the first two seasons we covered everything that we had to and there was obviously this test record aspect that we wanted to bring in and we have done that. It was always the intention of Inside Edge to celebrate good cricket and test cricket, which is the ultimate form of the game. This is where we really wanted to be when we started.
From its genesis to its present avatar, what makes the series relevant according to you?
Karan Anshuman - All the themes that we are tackling this season are relevant to what's happening in the world out there now — whether it is Oberoi’s track, the legalisation of betting, how test cricket is losing ground to T-20, and women in sports these days. All these topics are relevant and important today. In every season, we have included issues relevant to sports at that given point of time. Cricket doesn't get old. There's always drama and there's always more to look forward to.
Kanishk Varma - I agree with Karan here. The issues we are talking about in the series are kind of happening around us now. With characters like Akshay Oberoi, he is a hot star cricketer who is in the closet. Sexual orientation shouldn’t be a problem, it should be just your choice. So that and legalisation of betting and how women have come forward in this arena as well. So that’s something we are really excited to explore in this season. In the last few years, you see how test cricket came back and got people excited. That's also something that we have tried to show and we're really hoping that people will fall in love with this format of the game after watching season three.
Among other things the commodious plot speaks of legalising betting in cricket. According to you, is that possible?
Karan Anshuman - I don't think we want to take any stand on it on a personal front. It is definitely already sort of happening and taking shape. In reality, we have, in the show, tried to open up the debate on whether it is a good idea or not. And, the show might take a stand but that does not necessarily reflect our personal views.
Your vast cast seems to be having a blast? Were all these your first choices? Who or which are your favourite characters and actors?
Karan Anshuman - They were our first choices definitely, we wanted to work with these people. Some of them were not known names when they started off but they really nailed the auditions. My personal favourite character is Sayani’s character because that’s who I am in real life. Like the newly geeky guy who is more hands-on behind the scenes. So I really enjoyed watching her play out what I would be like.
Kanishk Varma - For me, I think Vayu. I am nothing like him in real life though, but it’s really difficult for me to pick one. Karan has created these characters, but he has lived these characters much before people played these characters. But for me, it’s difficult to choose, but I will still go with Vayu.
Many feel the OTT has become a dumping ground for waste material. How do you feel about the way the digital space is being used?
Karan Anshuman - It doesn’t matter who chooses what, it’s really up to the viewers. A lot of people, obviously, who make those films or shows don't think it's a waste. They obviously put their hearts, sweat and blood into making it and it's just up to the viewers to make a choice whether to watch it or not. I don’t think any makers think they dump their content on OTT. It's really up to the viewers to pick up the remote and pick what they want to watch. That’s the beauty of OTT, there’s something for everyone.
Kanishk Varma - Well yeah I mean, I completely agree with Karan. Nobody wakes up and thinks that I am going to make a bad project and dump it. Nobody sets out to do that. It, like Karan rightly said, is the viewer's choice what they think is good or bad. Everybody just makes the stuff they want to make and the viewer’s decide at the end of the day what is good and what is not, and so everybody 'dumps' as you said on OTT.
One of the more interesting characters is that of the captain of the cricket team played by Akshay Oberoi who is a closeted gay and a hacker who is transgender. Is this a deliberate effort to make the plot more inclusive?
Karan Anshuman - Yes, you could say it's a deliberate attempt at inclusivity. The whole world should be starting to be more inclusive in every manner possible. And, besides the character, I feel the effort at inclusiveness has already started in the writers' room where 50 percent of the writers for Inside Edge 3 are women. Then there are, of course, these characters. There's a transgender character, the captain of India who is gay. His trials as a gay athlete in the show reflects the trials of many real-life athletes around the world. And we are focused on highlighting these stories and situations.
Kanishk Varma - I don't think it's a deliberate effort. Karan as a creator and the writers wanted to start a conversation about sexual orientation and how it shouldn't be a taboo. Everybody has a right to choice. Choosing your sexuality should be normal, why should anyone have to come out and say whether he is straight or not. It shouldn't be a point of conversation. Karan always believed that people should talk about this subject and such conversations should not be forced. Hence he found a way to weave it into the narrative.
Cricket in India is a religion but your series shows it to be anything but. Is the desecration of the sacred cow your ploy to create interest among surfeited OTT viewers?
Karan Anshuman - Cricket is definitely a religion in India. I think I'm one of the primary contributors and biggest devotees of this religion, because I've been watching cricket and I've been a fan of it for the longest time. It is not a desecration but it is actually a celebration. Yeah, we highlighted a few of the wrong aspects of the franchise format. The best cricket or a true game is where it really tests the athletes to its fullest. And season 3 is that celebration. It is a hallelujah to test cricket. It is about test cricket and sort of trying to get the fans of the game activated.
Kanishk Varma - I don't think that cricket is shown in a bad light only. To me, as a fan of this show, my take is that yes there are bad apples in every profession but there are good people as well. If there is a Dhawan and Bhaisaab to exploit the game then there is also Vayu who fights for the right reasons. I don't think it's a ploy to create interest. I think everyone can relate to it. There are also a lot of people who love the sport despite all the things and that's the reason why this is the number one sport in the country. People love the sport. Coming back to season 3, we are celebrating the sport. It's just a great story point and 'fiction'. Yes, we are showing the dark side but it's never a deliberate attempt to put the sport in the bad light. Both Karan and I are huge fans of the game.
There is talk of Season 4. Are you game for it?
Karan Anshuman - If there's a season 4, I'll be obviously going for it. Cricket is never short of drama and drama around cricket is always amazing. So yes, I'll be looking forward to taking up the fourth season if it happens!
Kanishk Varma - I have always joked that if ever there's a Season 4, I would be the director. But jokes apart, I think it would be great. I know for a fact that Karan has a lot of material that he can use for the next season. The whole franchise is so personal to me, it's like a family and I would even bribe Karan to let me direct the season.
Inside Edge Season 3 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video India
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based journalist. He has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out
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