'Inside Edge' creator Karan Anshuman says the sports drama, whose third season promises yet another peek into the mind games and scandals behind the game of cricket, offers viewers something that feels off limits even if it's all "fiction".
'Inside Edge' is Prime Video's first India original series and has built a loyal fan base since its first season started streaming in 2017. While season one focused on fixing and betting, season two revolved around doping in sports (2019).
The third season, which centres on Test cricket, explores the possibility of legalised betting and more power struggles among the big players, both on the field and in the boardrooms.
Asked why scandals appeal to the audience both on-screen and in real life, Anshuman said just knowing things about other people or anything that's taboo stokes one's desire.
"It's a basic human emotion. In a way that salacious nature lends itself very well not just to sports but to any kind of drama. 'Inside Edge' is essentially a kind of mix of two. When we watch a live sport, that's the only thing in real life where you wear your emotions on your sleeve... the most honest you are as a viewer when things are changing minute by minute on something you have no control over," the creator told PTI in a Zoom interview.
"It plays out in fast forward, you mix that with secrets... when you find out that you can have an insider peek into what their lives might be even in a fictional world that's why the show is..." he added.
Directed by Kanishk Varma, the new season will see series regulars Richa Chadha, Vivek Oberoi, Tanuj Virwani, Aamir Bashir, Sayani Gupta, Sapna Pabbi, and Amit Sial reprise their roles.
Chadha is back as Zarina Malik, a fading actress and co-owner of the team Mumbai Mavericks, who now wants more power for herself.
Scams and scandals, the 'Masaan' star believes, are part and parcel of every society.
"This is why conspiracy theories work," she said.
"In society, there's always a group of people who know what they are doing and then there are the untrained masses whose opinion is shaped by the media, and different influences. We live in the midst of a million kinds of scams. Scams, scandals will always be around and so will be the people who want to get to the truth, to know what really happened," Chadha said.
Actor Akshay Oberoi, known for films like 'Gurgaon', said people are curious to figure out 'the game behind the game' and that's what keeps them hooked.
"When scandals happen, it actually tickles something inside people that 'oh maybe this is actually a part of my own fantasy or something I suppressed is actually playing out'," Oberoi, who is the new addition to the series, added.
Produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Akhtar's Excel Media & Entertainment, the third season of 'Inside Edge' was delayed due to the coronavirus-led lockdown.
Anshuman said the team started shooting for the new installment while season two was in the post-production stage.
"We had a very good head start but unfortunately the best laid plans, as we know, they just go haywire. The challenge was to try and work from home on a very post-heavy show like this. The visual effects, editing, and sound which are all what you do with specialised studios but we had to figure it out," the creator said, describing the experience "oddly educational, effective, and efficient".
Chadha said her character comes full circle in the game she has played and she "enjoyed this delicious turn" in Zarina's life.
"For the longest time, girls have grown up watching women who are self-sacrificial, subservient. Perhaps it gets internalised so much that you start justifying everything around and you don't really stand up for yourself. Which is why I enjoy a character like Zarina. She's not black or white, she's grey, just like the world around her, the people who have manipulated her," she added.
Oberoi, who plays Rohit Shanbagh, said he was excited to join the series especially because he hasn't worked on a sports drama before.
The actor, who grew up playing basketball in New Jersey, US, also expressed gratitude to the makers for trusting him with the role of a cricketer in the series.
"They trusted me to play the game. I said, 'If that's the thing, I will pick this up. I'll do what it takes to get up to speed'. I really wanted to be in this show. I wanted to play a sportsman and be amongst all these great actors. It's a unique role and the responsibility to do all these things was really exciting. I worked really hard to play some decent cricket. Now I've fallen in love with the sport," Oberoi said.
In February, the government said a 'code of ethics' and three-tier grievance redressal mechanism would be applicable for OTT (over-the-top) platforms, such as Prime Video, Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar, news publishers and digital media.
The OTT censorship has been a cause of concern among filmmakers, writers and actors for some time as many believe it will curtail their creativity on the digital platform, which has witnessed a boom in India in recent years.
Asked if any modifications were made to the upcoming season of the show following the government's guidelines for OTT, Anshuman replied, "There was nothing as a fallout of that".
"Of course, there were a lot of creative calls we took but nothing that had outright censorship in that sense because 'Inside Edge' is one of those series that's not controversial," he said.
"You'll be amazed at how people managed to find the ways and means to subvert this kind of thought control. That will always happen," added Chadha.
'Inside Edge' season three will premiere on Prime Video on December 3.
[With Inputs From PTI]