Online streaming TV services can produce some unexpected hits, such as Squid Game. But before the Korean show was around, the Indians had already put together Inside Edge, which recently released its third season.
What’s the Premise?
Inside Edge is an Indian sports drama series that was launched in 2017 as part of Amazon Prime Video. In so doing it broke new ground by becoming the first of the Amazon Originals to use Hindi as the main language. The show, created by Karan Anshuman, focuses on a fictional set of characters and events in the world of cricket. The heart of the show is the (fictional) T20 cricket side, the Mumbai Mavericks, and the owners who are busy dabbling in illegal betting.
Cricket is the biggest sport in India, and the inspiration of some real-world betting conspiracies helped to win the series critical acclaim, in addition to a nomination for Best Drama series at the 46th International Emmy Awards.
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The First Two Seasons
The inaugural season of Inside Edge introduced us to the Powerplay League, a T20 cricket competition that includes the Mumbai Mavericks. But all is not clean in this fictional world of cricketing drama, and Vikrant Dhawan brings in the lucrative but filthy practice of spot-fixing for cash, with most of the team (not necessarily willingly) going along with it. Beyond the illegal betting there’s plenty more sin to be had, with a splash of violence (all the way up to murder), including bloodshed based on the caste system (a major feature even today of Indian society).
Bhaisaab is a bigger presence in the second season (he’s more alluded to than visible in the first), as president of the Indian Cricket Board and the league’s founder. Zarina, co-owner of the Mavericks, rises in power due to Bhaisaab’s favor, but both are enemies of the scheming Vikrant. Performance-enhancing drugs, psychological problems, and conflicting loyalties are all themes in the second season.
Season 3 (December 2023)
The third season came out on 3 December 2023 and moved the series into the world of international cricket. It’s still rare in the real world for top-class athletes to come out as gay, so making the Indian cricket captain homosexual was certainly a brave move on the show’s part. Bringing in a Pakistani tour of India also adds an element of politics, as the two nations are historic rivals generally, especially both on the cricket pitch and regarding the Kashmir region (one of the Indian characters in the show is a cricketing newbie from Kashmir). The villains remain as entertaining as ever, though the numerous hot button topics in the third season may be a case of spreading the jam too thin.
As for the future, there has been no official announcement regarding the possibility of a fourth season of the show from Amazon Prime Video. However, there is a widespread anticipation that season four will indeed be commissioned, and, beyond the viewership looking forward to that, both the cast and the crew of Inside Edge are also expecting to be back for a new season. Creator Karan Anshuman has indicated his enthusiasm for a return to the world of cricket and controversy, which has done a solid job of putting together a story that’s imbued with not only cricketing storylines but compelling characters. Should a fourth season end up coming about, it is likely that we will see all (or almost all) of the main cast return to reprise their characters, and Kanishk Varma, director of season three, has also expressed great interest in returning to perform the same role for a potential fourth season.
The Real World Backdrop
Inside Edge is neither directly based on a real story, nor is it without some foundation in reality. The popularity of cricket, especially in India, has led to betting on it becoming a very big business indeed. Unfortunately, this means there have also been plenty of stories regarding criminal activity (such as spot-fixing by betting syndicates who seek to pay off players in order to manufacture highly lucrative winning bets.
This is a particular vulnerability for cricket due to a large number of secondary betting markets, such as how many no balls a match might feature, which are easy to artificially induce without appearing outwardly odd. The story in Inside Edge was inspired by real-world events that occurred within the Indian Premier League, the world’s foremost T20 competition. In the show, the competition is called the Powerplay League. Individual incidents and the general feel of the series can be said to have been derived from things that really happened, but this is not a retelling of a specific true story.
Viewers have noted some interesting comparisons between Inside Edge’s characters and real-world personalities, such as Lalit Modi and Bhaisaab. However, the fictional approach to the narrative has undoubtedly lent the show flexibility, not chaining it to one specific set of events but allowing it to explore new themes over the years, and moving to international cricket in the third season.
With the final season so recently released it’s uncertain whether the show will see a fourth, but so far the mixture of gritty real-world themes and fictional panache has drawn a crowd of viewers beyond those into cricket.