Binge Watch | Entertainment

How ‘Inside Edge’ manages to hit the 'so-bad-it’s-good' sweet spot

A still from ‘Inside Edge’.

A still from ‘Inside Edge’.  


The second season of the Amazon Prime show starring Vivek Oberoi and Richa Chadha was released recently

I have always had a soft spot for a good hate-watch. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, it’s when you find a show so incompetent, so utterly devoid of substance that you can’t look away. For an earlier generation, this category of films and shows were often called so-bad-it’s-good (the Mithun Chakraborty film Gunda (1998) being the lodestar of the genre). The current wave of ‘cringepop’ stars like Dhinchak Pooja and Taher Shah can run because Gunda walked.

For the first time in many years, I believe, there’s finally another Indian show that has what it takes to be so-bad-it’s-good — Amazon Prime Video’s Inside Edge, the second season of which was released recently. Quite simply, Inside Edge (created by Karan Anshuman) is a show about the Indian Premier League (IPL), fictionalised here as the Power Play League (PPL).

Or to be honest, there are two shows (belonging to very different genres) wrapped up in one here. One mode is the snappily edited sports movie. Inside Edge is decent without being spectacular on this front. Scenes with cricketing action were technically better than I expected them to be.

It’s the other mode, however, that Inside Edge truly belongs to. This is its rendition of IPL’s infamous corruption scandal, with Bollywood stars, politicians and scheming team owners. Richa Chadha plays a slightly over-the-hill Bollywood star who’s also co-owner of the (fictional) Mumbai Mavericks. Vivek Oberoi gleefully hams it up as the sinister corporate super-villain of the pack.

Addictive melodrama

Gully Boy newbie Siddhant Chaturvedi plays a Dalit cricketer from Mirzapur, while Amit Sial plays his casteist senior teammate. Angad Bedi and Tanuj Virwani play sparring cricketers, while Sayoni Gupta plays a super-smart analyst (who also happens to be the younger sister of Virwani’s character).

The show aspires to Shonda Rhimes-ian levels of addictive melodrama and pure, breathless, incoherent thrills. The incoherent bit is important because with a typical contemporary Rhimes product, like How to Get Away with Murder, even devoted fans find it difficult to remember plot details a week after. In many ways, the Viola Davis-starrer is a show designed for the binge-watch, packed with just enough sex and intrigue to keep realist concerns at bay.

That is how it is with Inside Edge, too — nothing is muted or subtle or under the surface here. Villains declaim their nefarious schemes for the benefit of everybody in earshot. Heroes declare their imminent triumphs for the audience’s benefit. Oberoi has an asphyxiation fetish and likes to tie unsuspecting female guests to the edge of his penthouse roof. Chadha has formidable screen presence as always, but is hamstrung in the first season by some unintentionally hilarious screenwriting. The sound mixing is so bad in a scene featuring Chadha and Karan Oberoi that you can barely decipher what they’re saying.

And yet, somehow, Inside Edge hits that so-bad-it’s-good sweet spot. I’d be lying if I claimed I knew exactly how. Figuring out parallels between real-life figures and the characters they have inspired — definitely entertaining, but that’s not it. Could it be the way Oberoi enunciates each and every one of his dialogues the exact same way, like he’s mentally undressing everybody on set? Could it be the way Chadha goes to town on his silly head, demonstrating a most promising bat-swing? Or maybe it’s the over-the-top, anachronistic alpha maleness of Virwani’s character, which is so 1980s he could have been playing alongside Kapil Dev and Gavaskar.

Whatever the case, the truth is that I inhaled all of Inside Edge’s second season in one night. And very soon, I’ll need to read my own article to recall just what I saw.

The writer and journalist is working on his first book of non-fiction.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 2:28:13 AM |

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