The kids of 90s, I followed a few games back in the day; the first one always was cricket, but other than that, tennis was another sport I was an avid fan of. Grand slams like the US Open or Australian Open or Rolland Garros or the biggest Wimbledon, I used to follow them all.
Another reason I did so, or if I could call it quits, to introduce me to the game was the Indian team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, whom we remember well as Hesh and Lee or the Indian Express.
Their contagious chest beat made the crowd go away, a site I still have memories of, and gave me goosebumps instantly. So when the news broke, I became so frustrated that I stopped watching the game. So this week, when Zee5 brought me the seven-part documentary of Lee and Hesh’s life, I was naturally happy.
I was hoping it would turn on my watch as I patiently waited for the flow of anger without getting a glimpse of what had gone wrong in what might have been the most significant Indian Sports Tragedy tragedy. And with that, I just finished BreakPoint on Zee5. Is it worth your time? Stay tuned.
“There is a lot of confusion in the doubles team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes, which makes the players twice notice the connection and trust. And they didn’t have that,” said sportswriter Rohit Brijnath about their relationship. The ups and downs of the pair make up the theme for the latest Zee5 docu-series ‘Break Point,’ which airs from 1 October.
‘BreakPoint’ is directed by Ashwini Iyer-Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari. Their previous notable work featuring ‘Panga’ and ‘Dangal.’ have continued the excellent work of finding interactions between stored images, old photos, and talking to the right people within their ecosystem.
The makers travelled long distances to speak to reporters, rivals (Mike and Bob Bryan, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde), colleagues (Radek Stepanek, Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, etc.), family (Dr Vece Paes, Krishna Bhupathi, Jennifer Paes, Mira Bhupathi, Kavitha Bhupathi), friends, and coaches (Nandan Bal, Enrico Piperno).
The seven-part series reveals their meteoric rise in cricket-mad India in the 1990s. Most notably, Paes-Bhupathi shot an ad alongside former England player Sir Geoffrey Boycott and cricket. That alone highlighted their importance to advertisers while cricket was the mainstay and destiny of brand organizations. Still, their differences are growing from 1996 to 2001 (or otherwise), which is a recurring theme.
It turns out that not a single difference has led to division but to many. Unlike Hindi sports biopics or false content on such topics, which often go overboard, the creators have focused on focusing on expressing the personality and characters of Paes and Bhupathi.
Based on extensive research, well-articulated questions, and detailed interviews with friends, family, and coaches, along with opinions from people in the world of tennis, the difference between “The Indian Express” was shared by all stakeholders.
Based on extensive research, detailed questions, and detailed interviews with the characters, friends, family, and coaches, along with people’s views on the world of tennis, the difference between “The Indian Express” was shared by all stakeholders.
The series is trying to figure out which pairs played for the first time in Jakarta; shared room and stealth entry at Wimbledon’s All England Club; those who had spent hours together inside and outside the courtroom could reach a point where the couple could not even communicate.
The series takes a chronological approach to Lee-Hesh’s partnership by focusing on their start in tennis in the first episode, including Leander Paes’ high-level decision to work with Bhupathi – contrary to everyone’s suggestion.
The second episode highlights how they played against the Woodies at the Atalanta Olympics (where Paes won a bronze medal in singles), against the Netherlands in the Davis Cup in Jaipur, where Bhupathi won the fifth final. Still, in the event, it was also the seed of what became a social uprising. It was sown there.
At the 1997 French Open, Bhupathi became India’s first Grand Slam champion with Japan’s Rika Hiraki in the title race. It brought praise to Bhupathi and, with Mahesh, a cold response from Leander Paes. Leander will say at the end of the episode: “It was the human mind, chalupanti, keeda” about rumours that he did not like Bhupathi.
This “keeda,” as Leander Paes calls it, becomes an essential point in their lack of confidence to move forward despite success in court. And that victory, which would last a long time, finally came in 1999. That year, Lee-Hesh’s pair reached the finals of all two Grand Slams winners (French Open and Wimbledon).
Episodes three and four describe in detail the sacrifices made by each other and making things work. Leander Paes gives up his support of single people to get Bhupathi a better deal. Bhupathi has released long-term coach Enrico Piperno at the insistence of Leander Paes. It also describes their success at Roland Garros in Paris and Wimbledon, where Bhupathi plays with tears in his groin.
The saddest moment in the series is when both are asked how they have achieved success even though they have not spoken. “Rollercoaster. It’s hot and cold. Meanwhile, Leander Paes said, “Because of so much pressure, winning, expectations, outcomes, lack of communication, in a split group. It’s extraordinary.” It was in Indianapolis when everything split in half.
After mixed messages from both groups of players and teams, Leander Paes and Bhupathi played with different partners. “That was an episode that broke the camel’s back; I was physically and mentally tested in a relationship afterwards,” Bhupathi said of the situation at the RCA Championships.
In the mid-2000s, another heart attack followed, but the team that won the record 24 consecutive Davis Cup games decided to split without putting the ego aside. At this point, the fragile relationship became sour for Leander Paes, believing that Bhupathi was close to the unnamed woman he saw.
“Then I think this is more broken than I thought it was,” Bhupathi recalled telling Leander Paes as part of the interview. They will continue to play India further in the Davis Cup, trying to build a relationship in 2011 in the men’s tournament (ATP), but the relationship seemed unresolved.
In Leander Paes, the series attempts to exorcise demons through the Buffalo over the past two decades. He told Firstpost, “I think it’s like healing. I think the way we were able to deal with some problems 20 years later; we can probably laugh about it.
Where we can look at the archives and look at our body language and the look we give each other, which we probably would have done better in 1999-2000, we would have better communicated. We may have been playing for a long time; who knows,” said Leander Paes.
Article Proofread and Edited by Shreedatri Banerjee