Angad Bedi is gearing up for the second season of Inside Edge, Amazon Prime Video India’s International Emmy-nominated series. The Original revolves around a cricket team franchise, Mumbai Mavericks, playing in the Powerplay League T20 league. While he played an honest and upright captain in the first season, his character Arvind Vashisht undergoes a slight change in the second.
“The first season saw a good man who is deep-rooted in the cricket world. He is left alone at the end of it. My character fought against the system, politics, match-fixing, corruption, and the second season will show his rise. He is still very emotional. He is still for the game. He is still for his people, and his team but he won’t be fooled anymore,” says Bedi.
“Where my character left off, it is a total different graph altogether. He has a lot to prove, he has come back with a lot of vengeance but he still loves the sport. He still wants to believe in the good. He still fights for the best players, and wants to eradicate all the negativity that exists in the game but he will not be fooled. He is still holding his vulnerability but he is not letting it come on the forefront. There is a total new arc to him. Now, he doesn’t want to dwell in his personal life. He wants to take charge, and he does just that,” Angad adds.
“I have seen the first five episodes, and it is very exciting. The first season was nominated for the Emmys. Hopefully, this year too, India is put on the map digitally. The scale has gone bigger in season two. We shot a lot in Georgia, parts of Jamaica, India, and South Africa. Performances are much more superior. The show creator, Karan Anshuman, has put in a lot of effort. Digital is 600 minutes of footage, literally three features shot together, and then you edit it and put it over a season, which is 10 episodes,” he says.
It has been eight years Angad has been on a roll. After breakthrough films like F.A.L.T.U. (2011) and Ungli (2014), it was Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu-starrer Pink that proved to be a game-changer for him, followed by Salman Khan’s blockbuster Tiger Zinda Hai, that further upped his game. What came next was the content-rich and successful Soorma, and most recently, The Zoya Factor, and Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl (with Jahnvi Kapoor), which he just wrapped up.
“A huge star like Salman Khan helps to build your market. Tiger… is Salman’s biggest grosser, and when you get into his market, you can only benefit. There was no star in Soorma but Dilijt Dosanjh has got a good market overseas. The film did very well. It was low-budget,” says Bedi. “(The) Zoya Factor was niche and probably, audience didn’t understand the film. It was not a mass film. We went wrong. When you are making a parody then even the climax should have been treated that way, which they didn’t,” says the actor, pointing out the possible reason behind the debacle.
What excites Bedi about digital shows is more scope to perform. “In films, you can do justice to one or two principal characters but in a web series, all the actors are equally important. There is lot more room to perform, and every character’s arc is well-defined. Many mainstream actors are moving to digital because that is what will eventually stay. People will go to cinema only if you give them a 3D experience, like Baahubali or Avengers or something like War for that cinematic experience. Younger audience is watching digital from age 15 to 25-30. As an actor, I want to stay relevant to the younger audience, and I can do that by being on digital. Inside Edge would be constant in my life because that character really resonated with people. I love the name of my character as well,” says Bedi, who was seen in the web show The Verdict: State Vs Nanavati a few months ago.
However, big-screen spectacle remains the major attraction for most actors, and that includes Bedi. “I have been getting my due, especially after Pink, and 2016 has been a turning point in my career. I got accepted as an actor, and people took me a lot more seriously. I was no longer that person whose name didn’t figure in the casting. Now if there are 10 to 12 names that are discussed on the table, my name always features in that. For Inside Edge and Soorma, characters were written with me in mind, and I hope it happens more often. I have moved from multi-starrers to being considered for parallel leads, or when they make a two-lead film, they think about me. But I am still working my way up. The security I have is of work, and I keep on getting cast. I want to explore more. Also, I have been fortunate to have great co-actors, all very collaborative like Mr Bachchan, Salman, Richa Chadda, Dulquer Salmaan, Taapsee (Pannu), Diljit, and Jahnvi Kapoor,” he says.
Bedi lost out on some good roles in the past as he was replaced quite a few times. He says that it is his sporting attitude that has helped him fight the situation and sail through the period of struggle.
“I was replaced in Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che. I have been dropped from two to three films, which is quite normal. When Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was being cast, they initially wanted to cast a new face, and I was tested and locked for it. I went through a 15-day workshop, and then got replaced. I would have loved to run. But then Farhan Akhtar (co-producer of Inside Edge) was a bigger name.
Sometimes, rejection may affect you, and you may go down in the dumps, or you rise and get better. I chose to rise. This experience taught me a lot, and that comes from my sporting attitude. I am a strong fighter. I will never give up,” he says.
“There have a been lot of ups and downs but I surround myself with good people. My support has been my childhood friend Yuvraj Singh. He was also getting in and out of the Indian team. I was not getting work. We were hanging out keeping each other positive. He helped me in Mumbai, and I felt secure under his guidance. I have seen failures quite a few times, which has made me realise that don’t take success seriously. Failure is constant,” he adds.
“But I want to work with Abhishek Kapoor. He is still a friend. Sometimes, casting can go either way. I am glad that it (getting replaced) happened to me much earlier in my career. Abhishek has followed all my work. He has been very honest with me. I would also love to do comedy, something like Vicky Donor. I want to work with Shoojit Sircar. He does nice slice- of- life films with good emotional content. Then I am looking forward to doing a sports film. I want to work with Aamir Khan,” Angad adds.
Son of cricket legend Bishan Singh Bedi, who captained India for five years, junior Bedi loves sports, and is pretty regular with cricket, table tennis, swimming, squash, and badminton. “But I always wanted to be an actor, and I am glad cricket didn’t happen. If you see longevity in career… now, I am 35, and if I am fit enough and keep going, keep improving, I can act till I am 70 but in cricket, your career is at the fag end when you are in mid-30s. Also, there is no comparison with my dad. Here, in Bollywood, the only competition is me with myself. When I was playing under-16 level, people used to always compare me to my dad. I don’t like these comparisons,” he says.
Coming back to his character in Inside Edge, it was initially felt he drew inspiration from MS Dhoni but Bedi denies the same, insisting he was influenced by his dad. “I play a character who is very honest and upright. I look up to the way my dad led his life, the way he stood up for what is right. He was quite honest. He was heard the most. I drew inspiration from that perspective,” says Bedi.
Life after marriage (with actress Neha Dhupia) and daughter (Mehr) has been beautiful for the actor, who has so far received fair share of critical acclaim and appreciation from fans. “I was looking for a change, and it has happened at the correct time. Now, I understand empathy, how to think for your partner, your family, child. All these things make you a very real person. It makes you understand your purpose for life. It is helping me a lot in my work, it has made me a better human being. I feel settled. There are immediate highs and lows in this profession, and maintaining mental equilibrium is equally important. After all, family is your support system, which is going to stay with you forever,” he concludes.