In 2017, when the first season of Inside Edge dropped on Amazon Prime Video, it captured the audience with its sensational tone. Cricket lovers were given a no-hold-barred look at the ugly underbelly at what is traditionally considered a ‘gentleman’s game’. Drugs, sex, politics, insecure players and match-fixing — everything was fair game in the show. Four years later, the Farhan Akhtar-Ritesh Sidhwani production has become a family drama as sob stories of characters get most of the screen time. As for cricket, you don’t even see a first-class match till the sixth episode.
The first few episodes are used to set up the characters. We find out Vikrant Dhawan (Vivek Oberoi) and Yashwardhan Patil (Aamir Bashir) are step-brothers. And while he always respected his ‘bhaisaab’, the latter didn’t even blink before taking credit for PowerPlay League, Vikrant’s brainchild. Vikrant is now vowing vengeance, and he will not stop at anything. In a bid to make him the sole villain, we get to see how Patil uses the loss of his legs to manipulate his daughter.
On the other hand, Zarina (Richa Chadha), the daughter of a film extra, wants nothing but power and fame for herself. Having seen her mother being slapped around, she has gone to great lengths to emerge as a star.
The secret to Vayu (Tanuj Virwani) being so gifted with the sport is also revealed, and his sister Rohini (Sayani Gupta), who otherwise is a cricket analyst, spends all her time playing detective, trying to prove their dead father innocent. There’s also Devender (Amit Sial), the bully of the team, who is being whitewashed here.
So what’s new this season? The Indian cricket team captain (Akshay Oberoi) is a closeted gay, and refuses to be seen with his partner in public as he is afraid he will lose his ‘manly image’. While this could have been a progressive move, it also fails to get its due. Why does Allen (Ankur Rathee) have to act so feminine? Is asking for a fair LGBTQ representation on screen too much to ask? Also, getting them to kiss in the climax may get makers a few hoorays, but technically, partners, or even family, is not allowed on the ground during a cricket match.
We also have Mantra (Sapna Pabbi) filing a plea to get betting legalised in India. Before she can reach the public, she has to fight paid IT trolls and become part of a TV ‘debate’, and, of course, convince politicians. Inside Edge 3 shows Pakistan’s tour of India as they play Test cricket. Angry politicians issue threats and the Kashmiri newbie in the Indian team gets some unwanted attention. Romance, politics, drama, thrill, Indo-Pak onfield rivalry — the season is trying to pin down every topic under the sun.
Coming to performances, we miss Richa Chadha as her screen time is limited this time round. Vivek Oberoi manages to impress once again as Vikrant, and so does Tanuj Virwani as Vayu. Aamir Bashir and his cold-hearted bhaisaab are bang on while Sapna Pabbi and her weird accent continue to irritate you. Akshay Oberoi as Rohit, the Indian captain, could have been the star of the show but fails with his restrained performance. Siddhant Gupta plays Imaad well. You can feel his pain as his talent is overshadowed by his father’s sifarish of getting him on the team. Also, we wish Renuka Shahane as the Indian prime minister had more to do.
Inside Edge is too long, and feels like a drag at times. Characters saying a lot of their dialogues in English also feels strange. The show also has its preachy moments. After Chhorii’s horror was adulterated with the ‘message’, the judge (played well by Dalip Tahil) lauds the match-fixer for uttering the truth, and how that made him respect him. Like really?
Verdict: With such fabulous actors, a story revolving around glamour and nail-biting cricket, director Kanishk Verma had gold in hand. However, with the quest to do too much, the show fails to leave an impact. Inside Edge 3 will still interest loyalists given the time they have already invested in its characters for the last four years. For the new audience, it is a match abandoned due to rain.
Inside Edge 3 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.