Inside Edge Season 2 is bigger, more layered & more expensive: Karan Anshuman

Amazon Prime Video and Excel Media and Entertainment return with Season 2 of the Amazon Original Series, ‘Inside Edge’. Building on the success of its International Emmy nomination last year, ‘Inside Edge’ is the story of the Mumbai Mavericks, a T20 cricket franchise playing in the Power Play League. 

Prime members across 200 countries and territories can stream all 10 episodes of ‘Inside Edge Season 2’ on December 6, 2019. 

Produced by Excel Media & Entertainment and created by Karan Anshuman, the second season stars Aamir Bashir and Sapna Pabbi, along with the stellar cast of Season 1, including Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadda, Angad Bedi, Sayani Gupta, Tanuj Virwani, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Amit Sial. 

‘Inside Edge Season 2’ delves deeper into the dark underbelly of the Power Play League. Ramped-up production scale, cinematic storytelling, underlined with dramatic twists and cliff hangers, Season 2 invites viewers to take a look at “the game beyond the game”. 

Adgully caught up with Karan Anshuman and Vivek Oberoi to know more about their association with the Emmy-nominated ‘Inside Edge’, what to expect from Season 2, growth of the OTT space in India and much more. 

Please tell us a little more about ‘Inside Edge Season 2’?

The first season was a bit of an experiment as there was no template that we were following at that point of time. There was no Amazon Prime at that point and we were just having a lot of fun making it. I don’t think any of the actors were ready for the kind of praise and response we eventually got. We went in happily clueless but came out a lot wiser and stronger, honing our crafts and all our individual capacities. 

From the production aspect, we executed the show like a film. There were many things that we had to learn. This sort of happens a lot in the West, but was happening in India for the first time and we really had to figure out how. We took our learning and applied it to season 2 once it was commissioned. Amazon Prime, Excel Entertainment, Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar really backed us up to make it bigger, better, more layered, and more expensive like when we got the opportunity to shoot over scenes. 

We did not hold back on the writing in any way because we knew it will be a lot more ambitious this time. I handed over the directorial range to Akash (Bhatia) and helped him as the show runner to shape the narrative, where we are coming from, where we are going and the job of executing it. The cast really got into their characters. They were still figuring out in the first season and then by the second season they knew who they were and their interpretation of the scenes in the script was always spot on. That’s something very interesting that doesn’t happen in films. 

Films are always about reinvention, and over here it was more about continuity in new situations for the same characters. They really took it upon themselves to play the parts with perfection and owned it. All the learnings from the first season went into like post production. We were a lot more prepared for the VFX edits and systems were in place so that it went a lot smoother because of which we were able to make it a lot bigger. 

‘Inside Edge Season 1’ received an Emmy nomination. Tell us about it.

That was completely out of the blue. I literally thought it was some kind of email scam or something. Turns out it was true and it’s an aberration, according to me. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but we are happy it happened. It gave the entire team a real boost. I will always be thankful for the Emmys because it really helped the team bond and get together. It gave validation to their work. 

According to you, how does Indian content, especially in the digital space, compare with global content?

I think we are getting there and we have great stories. I think all the stories that we have and want to tell have been held back because of various reasons in our films. Once those shackles are off, we will have some very interesting things to tell and there are so many writers who are coming out with fantastic ideas. So, on that front we are at power. We still have to figure out execution, but we have started making good looking shows. 

I really think ‘Inside Edge Season 2’ is one of the best-looking shows. But it’s a collaborative effort between all the departments – direction, production design, costume and specially our DOP (Director of Photography) Vivek Shah. The execution depends on those systems. Hollywood has a great system of studios which are able to shoot episodically. We are still doing location-based filming. So, we will get there. 

How do you view the OTT space in the country today? How is it opening up avenues for content creators like yourself?

The OTT space is an obvious choice. The moment it arrived, it became an obvious thing to do. No longer are you going to be constrained by the hours in a day and television by appointment. Not constrained by physical locations of the theatre when it comes to films. 

OTT is giving the viewers the power of watching good content at their will and convenience. That’s like an absolute game changer, when it comes to the way you consume shows and content. There’s only so much content that we can make and platforms want to experiment with all kinds of shows, so that there’s something for everyone to consume. One man’s leftovers could be another man’s feast. In that sense, every writer, content creator and even technical crew are getting that tune. There’s a lot more work going around than actual talent these days. That’s a very happy problem to have for any industry. 

What are the content preferences of Indian audiences?

We don’t know. I think we are still figuring that out. I’ve made and directed ‘Inside Edge Season 1’, then I directed ‘Mirzapur’. They are two totally different worlds. One is super rich and glamourous and the other one is set in a small town of India. Audiences loved both of them. It’s too early to figure out what is working and what is not working. Viewers are as invested in good characters and good storytelling as the makers are. 

How is writing a web series different from writing a TV show or a movie script?

I don’t have much experience writing a TV show. But I’ve written a bunch of film scripts, and the big difference is that there is no one author that speaks in a streaming show. You have a show runner, who is leading the writers, which could have any number of people, say from 3-7 or even more. That collaborative of writers is sitting down together every day and thrashing out the best ideas. What’s really interesting is that the best ideas are what win out and it’s not a single vision which usually happens in films. 

Films usually have 1 or 2 writers, who are very aligned in terms of what they are going to explore. The directors and writers are in agreement most of the time. 

Over here, a director may not even come on board until the script is done. The script is always a product of multiple people coming together with different points of view, making it far more democratic and exciting to be in a writer’s room. We have some fantastic writers on Season 2 and they were present throughout the shoot. There’s Naren Bhatt, who has written a whole bunch of films, including the recently launched ‘Bala’. Of course, we get into arguments sometimes, but the best way to settle that is to get into a boxing ring! That’s always best for the show. 

I’ve always tried to disrupt: Vivek Oberoi 

As a film actor working in a web series, what has been your experience?

It was really fun, because when I first started out everybody asked me why are you doing it? Are you crazy? Why are you going on to the digital platform? No one knew what an Amazon Prime Original was. So, it was interesting because I felt like a pioneer. 

I believed very much in my friends, Farhan and Ritesh. Excel has been a hallmark of great content and great cinema for decades. I knew that they will do something that will make me proud. I believed in Karan Anshuman. I believed in the world that he was creating and I believed in how hungry and talented he was. So, I just closed my eyes and took the leap of faith and I’m really happy that I did, because honestly none of us expected ‘Inside Edge’ to become such a huge hit and for us to win an Emmy nomination was a cherry on the top. 

I’ve always tried to disrupt, when I joined the industry 18 years ago. In all this time, I have done 47 films across 7 languages. At that time, it was unusual for somebody like me, who was a star kid, to not have a rocket launch by his own dad. 

I was one of the first guys and I think the only actor to have performed in four South Indian films all in the same period – in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. I had fun doing it and I kept challenging myself. 

Do you see big name actors increasingly becoming part of the digital world?

It is happening and it’s a good thing that is happening. I’m just glad that people are recognising the power of the digital content space and tying up with the OTT platforms and creating some really fun and exciting content.


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