Ritesh Sidhwani feels the latest season of his production Inside Edge will satiate the audience who waited two years for Season 2. The Amazon Prime Video web series debuted in 2017 and even went on to receive a Best Drama series nomination at the International Emmy Awards.
In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Ritesh, who co-owns Excel Entertainment along with Farhan Akhtar, talks about ruling the web space with three unique shows – Inside Edge, Mirzapur and Made In Heaven. He also shares how an Emmys nomination helped him take Indian content overseas.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Inside Edge revolved around match-fixing. Inside Edge 2 is about doping. How big is the season getting this time?
If you liked season one, we are pretty sure that the hunger of two years will be satisfied. We touched upon match-fixing in season one. (This time) There is much more cricket and politics. There is drugs and doping involved. You will see what happens with Angad and other characters. You will see Tanuj pitted against Angad. You will see what happens with Vikrant and Zarina after the events of season one. And, who is Bhaisahab? So I think it is going to be far more engaging.
When you are totally fictionalising it, there’s nothing besides the fact that a team is owned by a woman and she happens to be an actress. That’s an idea. It does not mean Zarina is Shilpa Shetty or Preity Zinta because the graph is different. I also don’t think Vayu is Virat (Kohli) due to his temperament and flamboyance. He is shown taking drugs. You take bits of various traits and put them all in a fictional character. And then you make him real so that the audience can relate to him. You might think it is Virat. Someone else might think it is Rohit Sharma. People have different thoughts. The fact that there is a little bit of everything there is a good thing for us because it draws you to the show. It makes it more believable, but we have peppered it with fiction. So I don’t think it is based on anybody.
You and Farhan changed contemporary Bollywood. Was that the aim when you ventured into the digital space too?
I was feeling a huge void. There is a significant segment like these millennials between 14-25 years, or my group, which was not watching TV. They were not engaged by the content that was out there. Then you start reading stories which cannot go into a theatrical, and they don’t fit into the TV model. And I had four years ago seen what had happened with Netflix or Amazon (globally). So it was just a matter of time when they came into India. And when something comes up in India, it just explodes. I said let’s start curating, creating and keeping content ready because there will be a time (for such stories). I remember I called up a platform and said we have a show. They said, ‘We don’t want shows. We want your films’. I said films are easy, and I want to create original stuff, but they refused. I also called Amazon which, at first, also said no. Then after six months, they said we have a plan now and asked if I still had the show. I said I have two now. They were surprised when we gave them Mirzapur and Inside Edge. Immediately, they said let’s go ahead and create this.
And your three shows, Inside Edge, Mirzapur and Made In Heaven catered to a different audience too.
Yes, because the format is different. People are getting to watch it when it is convenient for them. They don’t have to go to a theater to watch the content. They don’t need to sit in front of a TV at 9 pm. So when you create something like that, it’s more of binge-watching at one’s convenience. One can watch it in their house or car. There was a huge audience who you have not tapped into. So I think that’s where this came in.
Has Inside Edge getting nominated for Best Drama series at the 46th International Emmy Awards helped in Indian web content going global?
I feel it has because I have been asked by three different cricketing countries to see if the show can go on TV. Amazon is considering that as it will help season two. You have suddenly got a new audience which has not discovered it on the platform. They are watching it on broadcast TV in those countries. So when season two comes, they will find that season two is already out on Amazon. So I think it has allowed your work to get discovered by 200 countries. Suddenly you feel that there was no opportunity earlier for you to take your films to those countries, but the shows are travelling where movies have not reached. This is helping the market grow and making Indian content more global. It is giving recognition and birth to new talent, both in front and behind the camera. There was a serious dearth of writers. Now, everyone is busy creating content for various platforms. It’s an exciting time right now.