Rough Cut

Why Inside Edge hits it out of the stadium

The new series on Amazon Prime Video is everything the IPL promised to be — saucy, scandalous, and steamy.

 |  Rough Cut  |  5-minute read |   09-07-2017
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So I have a confession to make. After the first three editions of the Indian Premier League I didn’t ever watch another, either on TV or on the ground. The cheerleaders, the big hitters, the nightlong parties, the crazy fans, the big star promoters, the sheer excitement. It was fun while it lasted.

But if anything made me want to go back to the early days it was Inside Edge, a new series on Amazon Prime Video, which is everything the IPL promised to be — saucy, scandalous, and steamy. And believe me cricket is not the only sport you’ll be playing when you watch the ten-part Season 1, which premieres on July 10.

Who’s playing who is the biggest game. I recognised characters loosely based on Preity Zinta, Ness Wadia, and Yuvraj Singh (he’s even called Vayu). But aficionados will find many more.

But that’s not the only guilty pleasure. Every episode of Inside Edge is exactly like a T-20 match. Lots of target setting, run chasing, cheerleader breaks, screaming (more often from the sex than from the cricket) and scamming.

There’s Richa Chadha playing Zarina Malik, an actress on the verge of becoming a has-been, with no films and perhaps soon no team, staring at the prospect of a life without fans. She’s done 30 films, five of them with a hero who pursued her, starred with her, recommended her to various producers and directors, before tiring of her and moving on to a younger version.

She came to Mumbai with nothing as she says, and is not afraid to lose it all — though she fights like a tigress to protect her 15 per cent stake in a Power Play League (PPL) team called Mumbai Mavericks.

Her partner, Mr Damani, has gone bankrupt and she is about to lose her team before a mysterious buyer, Vikrant Dhawan, played by a suitably oily Vivek Anand Oberoi surfaces to buy her team. Of course, because he drinks only Yamazaki single malt, eats Wagyu steak flown in from Japan and cooked on a temperature controlled grill, and travels only by his own jet (so he can speak killer lines like I don’t like to fly in planes I don’t own), you know he’s up to no good.

ch_070917122315.jpgRicha Chadha in Inside Edge.

The Mumbai Mavericks’ captain, Arvind Vashisth, played by Angad Bedi is a straight arrow, with a bored trophy wife. There’s the coach, Narinder Suri, played by Sanjay Suri, and the find of the series, Tanuj Virmani, who plays Vayu Raghavan with an electric energy that fairly jumps off the screen. He snorts cocaine, smokes spliffs, does various unmentionable things with cheerleaders (he likes to bat without protection, wink wink) and of course, invariably performs in every big match.

He’s the bad boy who left his original Chennai team, and of course, they hate him there (plot tension alert). But is he the naughtiest boy in class who will eventually turn good? Or is he just a bad egg whose only redeeming feature is his tremendous talent?

The season goes down to the wire, to quote Ravi Shastri, in order for us to find out. He also has a particularly nerdy but very cool sister played by Sayani Gupta and an on-off girlfriend who is an IPL TV anchor, Meera Nagpal, played by Sarah Jane Dias.

There are lots of other plot tension points which keep the PPL pot boiling — a subplot involving a Brahmin player from UP and a newbie low caste fast bowler from a village close to his (both played brilliantly by Amit Sial and Siddhant Chaturvedi respectively), another involving the rather, er, raucous relationship between a mysterious power broker familiar in the corridors of power in Delhi (modelled on Niira Radia, no doubt) and a Haryana baron who has a finger in every pie but a complex as gigantic as his fortune about his English speaking skills.

And yes, there’s another subplot, of a mysterious stranger, Bhaisahab, who controls the betting syndicate, and a whole lot else. The language is colourful (I learnt more about the male anatomy and Hindi words than I have in my considerably long life till now). The sex is loud (and indiscriminate about positions). The money is big. And the fights are manic (especially those that start in bars).

Chadha is quite uninhibited as Malik, and thank God for that. Not afflicted by the namby pambiness and wishy washiness that strangles our heroines, she goes for it, kissing full on when needed, unbuttoning with elan, purring quite seductively when required, and swearing like a sailor — or indeed a PPL cricketer.

She projects the fragile ego of a fading star rather well, snapping at her manager when she gets her a short film offer (things are not so bad), sleeping with an ex because, well, she cannot help it, and lighting up whenever she is tense (but never in front of the fans). Her secretary Bhatiaji plays the old style Bollywood secretary to the hilt, holding Madam’s bag, scheduling her shoots, slinking out when required and bustling in when desperate.

Social comment, movie glamour, some great cricket, and yes some unapologetic sex that one hopes Mr Scissorhands Pankaj Nihalani doesn’t get to see. Ladies and gentlemen, let the games begin. And prime yourself for Season 2.

There are enough cliffhangers that leave us poised on the edge.

Also read: How IPL should have changed Indian cricket (and what really happened)

Writer

Kaveree Bamzai Kaveree Bamzai @kavereeb

Consulting editor, India Today Group

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