Ambitious but underwhelming
50%Overall Score

THE UPSHOT
The show provides wonderful insights into the inner workings of franchise cricket. The behind-the-scenes analysis, the players’ auction and the recreated matches all feel authentic. However, the show suffers from having too many plot lines running parallel to each other, and therefore fails to deliver a payoff to the intrigue built by the first season.

Directed by: Aakash Bhatia, Karan Anshuman, Gurmmeet Singh
Written by: Karan Anshuman, Niren Bhatt, Saurav Dey, Ameya Sarda
Cast: Richa Chadha, Angad Bedi, Tanuj Virwani, Aamir Bashir, Vivek Oberoi
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Inside Edge was Amazon Prime’s first Indian original show. The streaming platform went with a foolproof formula, combining the two glamourous worlds that Indians love most, cricket and Bollywood. Season one was no masterpiece, but was gripping enough to make the audience look forward to another installment. While the first season focused on the murky underbelly of betting and spot-fixing in cricket, the second season attempts to go bigger. In order to make the plot more sensational, a lot more controversies are weaved in like cricket board politics and the issue of performance enhancing drugs. However, this proves a little too ambitious for the show’s own good, as the makers struggle to effectively handle these new elements, resulting in a season that feels unfocused.

Bhaisaab finally makes an appearance

The mysterious Bhaisaab, who was the figure pulling strings in the background of the first season, finally makes an appearance (Aamir Bashir). He is a powerful politician and the president of India’s cricket board. His vision is to transform cricket from a commonwealth sport to a global one, and will stop at nothing to achieve this ambition. Zarina Malik (Richa Chadha), famous Bollywood actress and co-owner of the team Mumbai Mavericks, is no longer the meek and vulnerable figure that she was. She is now a shrewd and manipulative businesswoman with a taste for power, willing to put her morals on the line. Arvind Vashisht (Angad Bedi), who captained the Mumbai Mavericks in the previous season, has now moved to the Haryana Hurricanes, which means star batsman Vayu Raghavan (Tanuj Virwani) leads the side now. Another addition to the cast is Sapna Pabbi as Mantra Patil, Bhaisaab’s daughter and new co-owner of the Mavericks. Rookie fast bowler Prashant Kanaujia (Siddhant Chaturvedi) is reeling from the trauma of his violent bust-up with teammate Devender Mishra (Amit Sial) in the last season. Meanwhile, Vikrant Dhawan (Vivek Oberoi) is still in the picture, lurking in the shadows and quietly plotting revenge for the treatment meted out to him by Bhaisaab and Zarina the last time around.

Bashir’s underplayed but powerful portrayal as the primary antagonist is a welcome change from Vivek Oberoi’s scotch-twirling, constantly smirking Vikrant Dhawan. Bashir and Angad Bedi (laudable as the morally upright Arvind Vashisht) give the only restrained performances in what is otherwise an over the top drama. Richa Chadha is incessantly dramatic, and Tanuj Virwani’s constant yelling is even more obnoxious than before as the testosterone-filled Vayu Raghavan.

Inside Edge Season Two
Aamir Bashir as Yashwardhan Patil aka Bhaisaab and Sapna Pabbi as Mantra Patil.

The attention to detail is impressive

The highlight of Inside Edge has always been the manner in which the show tackles cricket as a sport. While the match scenes have always been top-notch (save for the tacky commentary) with impressive special effects and graphics, this season gives us a glimpse of the behind the scenes work that goes behind a game of cricket. The stats and analysis in the show from the Mavericks’ team analyst Rohini Raghavan (Sayani Gupta) have a sense of authenticity about them, as do the discussions that take place in team meetings. The makers have evidently put in the hard yards in conducting research for the show.

Real-life incidents and personalities form part of the story

We’re already aware that the PowerPlay League (PPL) and the Indian Cricket Board (ICB) are fictional equivalents of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) respectively. This season weaves even more real life into the plot. For instance, the PPL moves to South Africa this time around. A scene also depicts protests from the infamous Padmaavat controversy. Some contemporary issues revolving around Indian cricket, like conflict of interest and transparency, are also touched upon.

And if the first season didn’t throw enough hints, the second makes it all but clear that Arvind Vashisht’s character is inspired by Indian legend Rahul Dravid. Vashisht is “the only gentleman in cricket today”, a man fiercely committed to upholding the spirit of the game. This draws strong parallels to the public image Dravid has held over the years. Moreover, Vashisht is a veteran who has retired from international cricket and now leads a young underdog team in the PPL, much like Dravid’s stint with the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL a few years ago. If there’s any more doubt, it is dispelled by Vashisht’s jersey number, 19, the same that Dravid wore during his playing days.

Makrand Deshpande makes a brief appearance as Vayu’s childhood coach Mukund Pansare. A middle-class Maharashtrian man who wears a golf cap and coaches kids in the maidans of Mumbai, Pansare has strong shades of Ramakant Achrekar.

A lot of developments are wholly unnecessary

The show includes too many side plots in too short of a time, often ones that don’t really contribute to the main story. The story line that involves performance-enhancing drugs is one of these, although it’s dropped rather abruptly. Siblings Rohini and Vayu Raghavan are confronted with demons from their childhood. There is also a romantic subplot between Vayu and Mantra Patil, which has no point other than fulfilling the makers’ need to surround Vayu with beautiful women. The show would have been better served if there was more focus on telling the story instead of adding unnecessary drama that distracts viewers from it.

At the end of the day, the only thing enjoyable about the second season of Inside Edge is the scenes pertaining to the sport. Watch it if you’re a cricket fan who enjoys the analytical side of the game, or if you like over the top drama.