There are two ways of gleaning at a docuseries like Inside Story. One would be through the eyes of aestheticism, marvelling at the spotless sanguinity with which sunrises and sunsets are pictured and the world painted as the haven of incredibilites. The other would be through grim, sallow eyes, sponging the cricket out of it, only the cricket, squinting into dressing rooms and a few minds.
Halfway through Inside Story: A Season with Rajasthan Royals, you wonder if the docuseries attempts to give both and ultimately crops up as a confused, runic gallimaufry.
The series falls across no gradient: there are either excellent insights or thoughtless banalities. With the perspicacious Paddy Upton sprawled across its three episodes, Inside Story offers something but is agonisingly short at only 60 minutes. Is there a story to be told? Content to be eked out? There perhaps isn't any from the glorious omnishambles that was Rajasthan's 2019.
The circumstances make this so much less about retribution, as The Test or The Roar of the Lion, and leaves gaping holes that can be plugged by only cricket, and here, Inside Story makes an effort but only feebly.
Curious look-ins are offered into the auction process, with Head of Cricket Zubin Barucha rhapsodizing about the 'auction simulation' in which owners split up into eight teams to determine the upper-limit prices of each potential player. Reels featuring the ebullient logistic manager Romi Bhinder are both charming and vivacious, and the Catapult GPS tracking system, that spawned a bulwark of confusion in Amazon's The Test, gets a mention.
Yet, there is a lot of throwing around of cliches, the worst being the 'Yahaan kuch bhi ho sakta hai's about the Indian Premier League (IPL). Sequences repeat under the false carapace of a prologue, and Barucha appears way too often as a rotund sweetshop owner gloating over his own malpuas.
The cricket is hurtled through, thanks to obvious want of BCCI footage of the games and as cover-up, an avalanche of animation is squeezed in, sometimes unnecessarily, diluting the potentials of the stories that could have been the mankad, the precocious Riyan Parag, Steve Smith's comeback or Ben Stokes' struggle for form.
On the upside, there are dainty moments strewn across Inside Story that would stretch your lips into an involuntary smile - the conversation about fear between Australian big wave surfer Mark Mathews and the team was a delightful scoop of cake, for instance. But on the downside, questions are left unexplored, like the mid-season captaincy swap and Ajinkya Rahane's own form, barring the usual la-di-da psychobabble.
It is undeniably difficult to produce a documentation of a season as bland as Rajasthan's 2019. When coupled with footage shortage, it weighs you down like a mountain. Inside Story does prod you passively and flits your mind towards pertinent questions such as post-match recovery and the 'under-ratedness' of this team. However, the crammy run-time flicks a ham-like hand and shoves your mind away from all pertinency - because . . . err, what's next on the list?
Even if you turn a blind eye to all its deficiencies and unsustained beauties, Inside Story still doesn't entertain; it becomes a story of what should've been but was not made out to be. In the end, the cricket writhes harrowingly under the crushing nonsensicality of platitudes and bromides, even when it was all that could've been made out to be the USP of an otherwise undramatic plot and series.
Watch Inside Story when you have an hour of your life to while away. Its information can be crammed into a 750-word essay, but if you have the time, it's worth a watch.Published 05 Sep 2020, 10:36 IST