- Original Air Date: 10 July 2017
- Director: Karan Anshuman
- Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Angad Bedi, Tanuj Virwani, Siddhant Chaturvedi.
Inside Edge is by no means perfect. It has an antagonist who hams to the extent of getting on your nerves. There are things that happen towards the end of the series that would have been better suited to a 80s Bollywood actioner and not a series that is contemporary and has an appeal that is largely based on the authenticity of the content. Certain episodes tend to drag and the finale may not have been the best way to end a series that again credits its grip to the authenticity of its content. Nevertheless, Inside Edge still struck an entertaining chord with me and the reasons for that are many.
Inside Edge revolves around a fictional cricket franchise called Mumbai Mavericks playing in the Powerplay League (which is very similar to the real Indian Premier League). Mavericks is on the verge of being dissolved as its investors are backing out. The owner, Zarina Mallik (Richa Chadha) is going all out to get bankable investors and even though she is having a tough time in her own film career, she finally lands an investor in the form of Vikrant Dhawan (Viveik Anand Oberoi) who has his own set of unholy plans for the Mavericks.
Vayu Raghavan (Tanuj Virwani) is a star player in the Mavericks who is a problem child. He is in love with a reporter, Meera (Sarah-Jane Dias) but doesn’t let go of any chances to let his carnal desires get the better of him which coupled with his indiscipline soon puts him out of the team. He now has to hit back with better performances and better yet discipline as he tries to resurrect his career from a rut. Prashant Kanaujia (Siddhant Chaturvedi) is a rookie who has made it to the Mavericks but is still awaiting a chance to play in the eleven. He has to toggle between understanding a new way of life, dealing with racial onslaught of some of his team mates and his inability to perform well enough to be noticed by his captain as he grows through the season. Arvind Vashisth (Angad Bedi) is a veteran Indian cricketer and the captain of the Mavericks making his way through the series dealing with personal issues, backstabbing, unreliable team mates and the death of a dear friend. Inside Edge is a mishmash of all these and a lot more.
First things first. Inside Edge is able to make the cricket matches feel breathtakingly real. I have never seen a better rendition of a modern cricket match on screen in Bollywood let alone the small screen in years. Be it the manner in which the games are shot, the physicality of the player or the overall feel, the director gets it all spot on. There is a portion where the commentators are talking about dew on the field and the director makes it a point to show us a nearly drenched bird sitting on the ground with a bug inching its way towards its feet. It reminded me of some similar shots that I saw in live cricket matches over the years. The director went on to sign actual TV commentators who knew how to do a live commentary and that really helped the cause even more. Add to that the perfectly rendered mannerisms and the athletic build of the actors involved in the game and you have the perfect rendition of a cricket match.
The performances by most of the ensemble cast are perfect. Amit Sial plays Devender Misra, a veteran spinner who is knee deep in all kinds of shady stuff involving the game. He unleashes a flurry of racial onslaughts on Prashant who hails from the same district as Devender but is of a lower cast than him. Misra tries to destroy his self-confidence and make him disbelieve that he can be worth a damn. When Prashant finally makes his way into the team, Misra tries to woo him with soft talk into underperforming. Sial is a wily performer but here I liked his act more than I liked any of his previous acts. He gets under the skin of the character and adds a punch to every line that he is asked to deliver. He is not only likeable but extremely funny in an ironic sort of a way.
Tanuj Virwani is awesome as the fiery Vayu Raghavan. He doesn’t overdo the bad boy tone. He shows his weaker side from time to time. We see how important it is for him to be in the team. He also makes it abundantly clear how much he loves Meera and how desperately he wants to be back with her. Interestingly enough, it is between these parts that he sometimes does the unthinkable and he does it with such comfort that one questions everything else that they are made to believe about his character thus far. With this act, Tanuj Virwani has become one to look out for in the future.
Richa Chadha is a seasoned actress. Here she gets a character that is though steeped in commercialism but has many aspects to it. She is an actress herself and hence she knows how to play one. What is added to that aspect of her character is the added responsibility of having the ownership of the team, being dragged along by her new investor who is not afraid to molest her, being reduced to a nothing in her film career and her increasing proximity to her team captain Arvind. All these factors sum up to make her character organic and since Richa essays Zarina with all her heart, the character becomes intriguing and affecting.
Siddhant Chaturvedi is great as a guy who is clueless about how the world of big-money cricket works. I loved the portions where he shows his weaker side and also the points when he starts coming into his own. Just look out for him delivering a fiery spell in the episode “Opening Bids”. Angad Bedi is perfectly suited for the role of an honest cricketer and he does just enough to merit our attention.
Last but not the least, Vivek Oberoi is the weakest link in the otherwise well acted series. He overplays his part of a suave mastermind who takes orders from a certain “Bhaisahab” but has unprecedented control over how he makes money is way too over the top to merit any credibility. The camera gives him so many close-ups and so much of time is spent showing him either laughing for the most miniscule reasons or grinding his teeth for an equally trivial one that his character gets on your nerves within a few episodes. He just doesn’t have the gusto that would make him scary or affecting for that matter. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he single handedly pulls down the acting affectivity quotient of the series.
Speaking of the negatives, the next big issue with the series is it’s over the top violence and some serious lack of thoughts into the screenplay. A major character is killed and it is used as an excuse to rope in some innocent players and try and blackmail them. This whole portion is so stupid that not even a 5 year old would not buy the plot that was being sold by the police. However, the dimwitted characters that are in the middle of the soup never for once raise the all important questions. This really made me laugh and at certain junctures cringe at the inept writing.
Too much of drama is extracted in the fixed matches that would never have been the case had it been for real. The swinging devotions of the men involved is also sometimes too much to fathom. A few of the characters are extremely annoying. To top it all up, we have an important character shooting another character for a reason that is so trivial that it could have been avoided all together.
Having said all that, Inside Edge is still a very watchable series that can be enjoyed at varied levels. Good performances, interesting plot and some cracking episodes make it a re-watchable series that if not taken too seriously can be enjoyed quite a bit.
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)