Before anything on Inside Edge, one should congratulate producers Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani and director Karan Anshuman for venturing into the digital platform and giving it the treatment it deserves. With Inside Edge, whose first season premiered on Monday on Amazon Prime Video, the trio has made a foray into the world of web-series but the show’s first episode assures the quality, at least technically, hasn’t been compromised with just because it is a far smaller medium than films.
One can credit this to Farhan, Ritesh and Karan’s own interest in web content – the makers have admitted that they watch a lot of international web series, which are superior and far ahead in the stuff made in India currently. So, from the first minute into Inside Edge, you see a stylish presentation – which ascertains the producers’ investment and efforts. The almost 45-minute long first episode gives a sneak-peek into the main characters of the show, which is about the behind-the-door games that are far more complex than the cricket matches that the audience witness on the ground.
The IPL-inspired series shows the crisis around the Mumbai Mavericks team, whose co-owner is a Bollywood actor Zarina Malik (Richa Chadha). While the T-20 league is on and the popular team is winning matches, there is an uncertainty on its future as one of its owners has gone bankrupt.
This crisis makes way for the entry of a powerful business tycoon Vikrant Dhawan, played by Vivek Oberoi, who buys the team. And while he comes in quite late in the episode, one knows that Vikrant is going to be a key player in this 10-episode long web series. Apart from him, rest of the characters, including Zarina, look mere pawns in the premise. There’s a go-getter coach in Niranjan Suri played by Sanjay Suri, who once again shines with his sincerity, a dedicated captain of Mumbai Mavericks in Arvind Vashishth, done by Angad Bedi, looking comfortable in the role and a notorious team member in Devender Mishra, by an impressive Amit Sial (of Titli fame). There’s also Tanuj Virvani’s star (read spoilt) batsman Vayu Raghavan. While the actor’s efforts are visible, at times he looks pretentious as I-don’t-give-a damn player.
Two of the better performances come from Sayani Gupta, who looks pleasant and effortless as the Mumbai Mavericks’ smart and sassy analyst, and Siddhant Chaturvedi, a rookie fast bowler who is new to the Maximum city and the big (bad) ways of Mumbai Mavericks. Siddhant displays naivety, simplicity and determination of Prashant Kanaujia, who is like any other aspiring cricketer in the country, coming from a humble background.
Vivek as the shrewd Vikrant looks convincing but Richa as the former Bollywood glory, Zarina, is sadly inconsistent. While Richa brings out Zarina’s vulnerability quite well, she appears in the scenes that require her to be in control of herself and her position as an actor and Mumbai Mavericks’ owner.
The first episode has a cliffhanger end, setting the right tone for the series that aspires to be surprising. But it’s too early to say if the content in the rest nine episodes fulfill the expectations or Inside Edge, which is Amazon Prime’s first original Indian series, turns out to be just a smartly packaged fluff.