If you are one of those who think that the professional T20 Indian league is all about spot-fixing, white lines of cocaine snorted through five hundred rupees, players humping cheerleaders just before they go out to bat, threesomes, egregious sleeping around with the wives of others, greed with a gazillion zeroes, murder, mayhem and very little cricket, then boy, Amazon India’s much-hyped and greatly-reviewed web-series “Inside Edge” is here to confirm all your biases.
Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s “nothing succeeds like excess”, “Inside Edge” believes in amping up the volume to eleven. In that spirit of garish excess, of gnashing teeth and thrusting cleavage, it captures perhaps very closely the league it is based on, christened Powerplay Professional League, for obvious legal reasons. Real people are winked at, and that perhaps is where “Inside Edge” is the most fun when you try to make the connections, a fading female star partially owning a franchise, cheering her team on energetically, a “mother-sister-sprouting” tatooed handsome bearded star, with a liking for the ladies but a heart of gold, who is the next best thing to happen to Indian batting, an evil franchise owner with cricket enthusiasm in his heart, but even there the fun quickly vanishes because of how inauthentic everything is otherwise. Just when you think this might actually be enjoyable, you are assaulted by yet another cliche that is so cliche so as to make 90s porn look original, or another twist as predictably disastrous as a Yusuf Pathan over, with the only accurate bit of actual cricket is the Kolkata franchise being shown consistently as being second to last.
There are good bits. A casteist Uttar Pradesh spinner with some good raw Hindi lines. Angad Bedi as Alok Nath you wouldnt mind sharing a bed with. Rohan Gavaskar putting in his NREGA days playing a commentator.
But they are all consumed by the black hole of acting talent that is Vivek (he has dropped the “i”) Oberoi.
It is difficult to describe Vivek Oberoi’s performance as evil fixer Vikrant Dhawan in words.
It is very difficult.
I am tempted to bring, as a point of comparison, Rahul Roy in “Naughty Boy”, but that would be like comparing Anghshuman Gaekwad’s hitting power with Chris Gayle’s. Vivek Oberoi does not chew scenery, he gulps them down in ravenous bites. He is either holding a whisky glass or fishing out a handcuff from his pocket, either devilishly arching his eyebrows or grinning maniacally throwing his head back, either greedy or horny and usually both at the same time. Sometimes he is sensually stroking a pepper shaker to suggest a sexual act to a lady, sometimes he is asking the lady to “open wide” as he stuffs wagyu steak into her mouth while bragging about his “temperature-controlled grill”, all the while involuntarily channeling Austin Powers through lines like “Would you like a drink or shall we just fuck?”
It is a memorable performance, I will give him that, in the way that Kolkata Knight Riders can never forget the franchise paying $670K for Mashrafe Mortaza for him to play a single game where he gave away 21 runs to Rohit Sharma.
A second season seems to be in the offing, and I might be tempted to come back, but only if Mr. Oberoi is there, because in today’s day and age, it is very difficult to get gentle pleasures like “Inside Edge”, unselfconscious in its delightful campiness.