Seattle-headquartered e-commerce giant Amazon's video-on-demand platform 'Prime', in its first Hindi original web-series, dives deep into the darker side of cricket, especially the T20 format. Titled 'Inside EDGE', the 10-episode series was launched on the streaming platform on July 10.
The series features a T20 franchise 'Mumbai Mavericks' owned by a film star (played by actor Richa Chadda) struggling to sustain it and therefore, looking for an investor. The cast also includes Vivek Oberoi (he plays the investor) and Tanuj Virwani (he plays the star player of the team), who is, apparently, styled to resemble Indian skipper Virat Kohli.
On www.primevideo.com, here's how the show is described: 'Set in a landscape of conflicting interests, where selfishness is almost a virtue, where sex, money, and power are mere means to an end, Inside Edge is a story that pulls no punches, minces no words, and takes no prisoners. Come witness the game behind the game.'
As the new investor (Vivek's character is called Vikrant Dhawan) brings match-fixing into the plot, one already peppered with scenes of runs, relationships, sex and drugs, things get interesting.
Is there a link between Tanuj's character Vayu Raghavan and Virat Kohli or actor Angad Bedi's character Arvind Bashisht and Rahul Dravid (he's called Mr. Dependable in the show)? "Not at all," says Karan Anshuman, the writer and director of the show.
Where did the idea come from? "I am a cricket fan myself. The entire show is fiction and imagination. We have shown the 'league format', which we see everywhere, and have interpreted it in our own way," answers Anshuman.
The show is produced by Excel Entertainment, owned by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar, and our reliable sources who worked closely with the production unit tell us that Amazon Prime spent around Rs. 20 crore to make the series.
"From the point of view of shooting the series... we have not treated it any differently from a movie. The cameras used were of high quality. Amazon has its own standards which are very high and it was fun working on a project like this," Anshuman says.
Web-series in India are considered to be a launch-pad for strugglers. Karan Johar famously said, "What fails to be a movie or a TV show ends up being a web-series." Well, not in this case. The production house has many successful movies to its credit (Don, Dil Chahta Hai, Zindegi Milegi na Doobara, Rock On).
"We did not treat it as a web-series; from Day One we were clear about wanting to make a great show which can stand tall alongside other Amazon Originals," says Anshuman.
Prime's focus on original content is well known. Bollywood filmmakers Zoya Akthar, Vikramaditya Motwani and Vikas Bahl have been roped in to create original content for the platform.
In a recent interview with afaqs!, Nitesh Kripalani, director and country head, Amazon Video India, said that while they are starting out with Hindi content, they might even foray into the regional space. He also said the platform is investing in global talent and conducting workshops to up the quality of its content in India. "See, writing great shows in India has not really happened, so we are investing in bringing our show-runners and writers from the US to do workshops here... we're in the golden age of TV shows in the US; hopefully we will get there in India too," Kriplani said.
The big question is: Will it set a new benchmark for digital content in this market? And for Amazon Prime, a different question, with a more tangible answer, lurks: Will the buzz around the show convert into subscription?