For fans of the cricketing franchise that kicked off in 2017, Inside Edge is still likely to hold some interest, no ifs and ‘bats’ about it.
Batting and betting remain the series’ patent preoccupations. The characters, all 155 of them(no I wasn’t counting, just guessing) remain locked in a self-serving vault where they can only see the world asa place to mint money, and more money. Sporting ethics be damned.
The ten episodes of Season 3 have their high points. But the low points sadly exceed the high. There are many loose ends in the plot: for example, why is Richa Chadha(who gets top billing) missing in the first 5 episodes? Even after she makes a belated entry her character Zarina Mehta seems uncertain about her presence and her future. Flashbacks of her mother’s humiliation as a junior artiste are too perfunctory to project an even remotely rounded portrait. The same is true of the other principal characters. They all seem to have a back story which doesn’t quite justify let alone rationalize their slithering moves as over-ambitious go-getters.
The age-old rivalry between the stepbrothers played by Amir Bashir and Vivek Oberoi (both in brilliant form) is given some sort of a centrality in the plot. Nonetheless the storytelling this time is fatally unanchored.
The characters who (over) populate the plot are either ill-formed, or ill-informed or both. Sapna Pabbi as Bashir’s daughter Mantra frantically trying to legalize betting, cuts a particularly sorry figure specially when pitched against a “professional” anti-establishment journalist who at one point, is shown masturbating to Mantra’s video image. I am not too sure what that is supposed to signify? That he wants to f..k her over not only on camera but in person too?
Too many characters here are either not sure of their actions or just too sketchily drawn to be convincing in their manipulative moves. Either way, the storytelling suffers grievously for the want of credible characters and finally falls fatally to the floor writhing on the ground helplessly.
Not all of it is in vain. Some characters in spite of a hazy lazy writing, succeed in leaving a positive impact largely because of good performances. Amit Sial as a bluntspeaking off-spinner is a showstopper. Siddhant Gupta’s Imaad, a privileged Kashmiri batsman who is brought into the Indian cricket team from the backdoor, has three levels of discrimination(as a Muslim,Kashmiri and a figure of favouritism) to grapple with.
Imaad’s struggle appears real. As does Akshay Oberoi’s closeted gay captain of the team suffering the tireless taunts of his uncloseted partner (Ankur Rathee). And yes, Sayani Gupta is excellent as a daughter trying to live down down a cricketing scandal that killed her father. Tanuj Virwani as her brother is just not given any significant footage to chew on.
The plot sprawls indolently over ten inconsistent episodes.Some of this is really good stuff with dialogues that are barbed and inconsistent. But on the other hand, much of this feels like a spillover of the earlier seasons. The characters don’t grow. They groan dangerously close to the edge of irrelevance.