Without giving away the big reveal at the end of Episode 1 that shakes things up, let's just say Showtime is about the burning insider vs outsider debate in Bollywood. A second-generation film producer is challenged by a young entertainment journalist – but the issue at hand isn't just restricting outsiders' access to big studios – I'd imagine that would touch a nerve. It's about bringing back the old glory of Hindi cinema in place of the products masquerading as movies today.

It's a worthy battle and as young film critics who grew up on the glory days, we'd be the first ones to get in line and champion this show. But Showtime isn't interested in flag-waving of any kind. It wants to entertain: through its observations, through its candour, through its self-deprecation, through its Reddit validation, through its starry cameos, through its OTT-isation of Bollywood. It wants to be the headline that a generation of instant gratification latches on to, instead of being the long-form read that they bookmark and never get back to.

On that front, Sumit and co-writers Lara Chandni and Mithun Gangopadhyay hit some right spots. Their grasp on the online chatter and studio whispers is firm and far-reaching. Their take on how today's Bollywood takes the legacy of historical films and completely squanders them with marketing tools is bang on – a rapper suggests an end-credit song, a first-time action hero suggests Tatya Tope do parkour, and a producer takes the story of India's heartland to an overseas location for scale.

Equally sumptuous is how a leading star is envious by his actor-wife's comeback, especially when she bags a big-budget spy film instead of being relegated to an OTT project like most ‘90s female actors today. Item songs may hopefully be a relic of the past, but an ‘item’ girl's desire to grow into a leading star is still a story waiting to be told. And so is the tale of an outsider ticking all the right boxes of what an actor should be today, yet getting thrown out of a project for eclipsing the lesser talented male star.

Showtime also works as a spot-the-reference spectator sport because of how zeitgeisty it is. Dialogue writers Jehan Handa and Karan Sharma oscillate from bombarding the audience with the obvious to allowing them to read between the lines. My favourite dialogue is when a character calls the woke entertainment journalist “Aaram Nagar ki Anna Hazare.” Or when a producer convinces Ayushmann Khurrana's manager to say yes to their film and they'd forcefit a social cause into the script. The joke isn't new, but for it to make it to a show without changing the name is refreshing.

It's also fun to guess (Reddit threads surely to follow) which character is inspired from which real-life celebrity. For the record, they're all amalgamations. For instance, the A-list star played by Rajeev Khandelwal is dressed like Shah Rukh Khan of today, is about to do his first action film in a long career, and lives at a seaside bungalow called Jannat (no points for trying). But his mannerisms, especially the way he takes a top producer to eat mooli (radish) on his organic farm during a work meeting, is so Akshay Kumar. 

Similarly, Naseeruddin Shah and Emraan Hashmi as the father-son producers who have ideological battles about what cinema stands for – seems like a page out of Karan Johar's life. Or it could be Aditya Chopra. Also because his father is seen admiring his own movies with chiffon saris in snow-clad hills (actual footage from Tum Kya Mile). Or could it be Raj Kapoor? But he didn't have a descendant who could take the legacy of his studio forward and completely turn it on its head. There are no easy answers, but guessing is a gift that keeps giving for a generation that's grown up on blind items.