BreakPoint Review: Remarkable Story of Paes and Bhupathi could have been told better


Directors: Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, Nitesh Tiwari

Throw: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi as themselves

Stream on: ZEE5

If I remember correctly, I saw tennis champions Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi playing cricket on television in a suitable commercial. The curiosity factor was indeed cricket, a sport I loved like any other kid in India. That memory was refreshed in the Break Point series which lands on ZEE5 today. The story behind this commercial is as dramatic as the commercial. Don’t reveal any details now. Paes and Bhupathi are the flagship of Indian tennis, in fact other Indian sports than cricket, which continue their dominance in terms of popularity and money.

What the ace duo, formerly known collectively as the Indian Express, has achieved on the international tennis arena is remarkable. In India, sports and athletes other than cricket / cricketers are not recognized until they win a medal or tournament on a global platform. Once they do, the nation will go crazy for them. Check out the admiration Neeraj Chopra received after winning the historic Olympic gold in Tokyo this year. These athletes deserve every bit of that admiration.

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Paes and Bhupathi were world champions. They were role models for other tennis stars like Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. That makes me think how many athletes can we name besides cricketers? We have to go online to know beyond Saina Nehwals and PV Sindhus (both badminton champions). Hindi cinema has been producing biopics of athletes for almost a decade. Neeraj Pandeys MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehras Bhaag Milkha Bhaag top the list. Given the subject and conflict of Break Point, the documentary was the best medium to tell the story.

At the top are the directors Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (Neel Battey Sannata, Bareilly Ki Barfi) and Nitesh Tiwari (Dangal, Chhichhore). But this casual documentary series hardly has a hint of mastery. It is best to hear the story of Paes and Bhupathi from yourself. The journey of struggle and passion is remarkable. The research is solid, but the storytelling is weak. The series deals with many aspects of their journey. But mostly it’s just pure information. An Alpha Leander Paes speaks with passion. In comparison, Mahesh Bhupathi is relaxed and reserved. Apparently that worked for them when they played on the court. Both tell their sides of the story, as do their family members, friends and other tennis champions. It’s pretty informative, but just getting information can be boring at times.

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These anecdotes are interrupted by some original video recordings and photographs. Sometimes stock footage has also been used to re-enact some incidents like the young paes practicing, waiting for a response, aerial shots of the cities while referring to the championship events like Wimbledon, US Open, French Open, etc. A simple black slate with text would have done it too. Based purely on the end result, any documentary filmmaker could have done the solid research. The top billing director duo here just means bigger amounts of production and money. To be honest, the production quality is inconsistent across the series. It is evident that portions of the documentary were filmed during the pandemic, so we can probably exempt this poor chroma work.

Wouldn’t have minded if these two champions sat on a chair in a studio and carried out their journey with as many original images as possible. To be honest, the gimmicks used here don’t add value to this average documentary series. The real conflict in the series is the different attitudes of people towards the same events. It’s difficult to incorporate these attitudes into a narrative. Here BreakPoint loses its act. The narrative lacks the grip to keep you occupied. Just had to torment me through a few episodes because I had to review the series.

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