Break Point: Reason behind Leander Paes-Mahesh Bhupathi split set to be revealed?
The most controversial as well as the most successful pair of Indian tennis - Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi are ready to spill it all in 'Break Point' for Zee5.
The fin de siècle of the 20th century brought about a revolution in Indian tennis with Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi helming the way - taking Indian tennis into territories unthinkable previously. The heydays of the Amritraj's and the Krishnan's had drawn to a close and the tennis fraternity in India craved new champions - someone who can fill in the shoes left empty.
The wish was met soon enough as Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi came into the picture and transformed it seamlessly - turning into poster boys for the sport. Ever since then, no Indian tennis pair has succeeded at this level in Men's Doubles - scaling heights unprecedented.
Known as the 'Indian Express' - the chemistry between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi was explosive both on and off the court. While they lapped up to Grand Slam successes as a pair - winning 2 Grand Slam titles back to back in 1999, the French Open and the Wimbledon as top seeds, and continued their magnificent partnership - the strains in this bond were soon to surface.
Seasoned with controversies and mud-slinging aplenty and ego battles, the relationship between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi ran hot and cold. Naturally, a source of curiosity when the duo decided to call it quits and part ways, the story of Lee-Hesh as they were popularly known as is now being captured in a non-fiction film called Break Point that will be directed by the husband-wife director pair of Nitesh Tiwari and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and will stream exclusively on Zee5.
From their bromance to their break-up, #BREAKPOINT the untold story of @Maheshbhupathi and @Leander is coming to your screens soon.— ZEE5 (@ZEE5India) July 8, 2021
Brought to you by the award-winning, film maker duo, @ashwinyiyer and @niteshtiwari22. #LeeHesh #BREAKPOINTonZEE5 pic.twitter.com/e7DHJ0ua4l
Boasting of having a great record of 25 wins and 2 losses in Davis Cup matches, Lee-Hesh also hold the longest winning streak of 24 matches between 1997 to 2010. In fact, in 1999, the Indian Express reached the finals of all 4 Grand Slams in a single year - winning 2 of them. In the 2002 and 2006 Asian Games - Lee-Hesh won the gold and in the 2010 CWG, the former World No. 1 pair in Men's Doubles clinched the bronze.
But by the time the Asiad and CWG successes happened, Lee-Hesh were on rocky terms. Although they'd pair up to play for the country often, they began staying away from the Grand Slam circuit after a lot of public spats where Paes would call out Bhupathi for showing lack of commitment while Bhupathi, tired of staying in the shadows of Paes even called the 18-time Grand Slam champion a 'back-stabber'.
However, the years have transpired and the hot and cold nature of their relationship has simmered to a lukewarm affair and with Break Point due to release soon, the curiosity has piqued once more. There is no denying what Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have done for the sport and in retrospect, both look back on it fondly now. While Paes excelled at the net, Bhupathi fired away from the baseline making for a wonderful, formidable combination.
"We kind of conquered a white man's game, which was never done before. It led to a lot of success... 1999 was the peak. We were the Titans of the doubles world, it was a lot of fun. We continued playing together, on and off, for about 15-16 years," Mahesh Bhupathi said in an Instagram chat.
Promising to uncover the truth behind the bitter split between the two, Ashwiny, who helmed the critically-acclaimed Nil Battey Sannata and Nitesh Tiwary, who directed Dangal - will bring the story of Lee-Hesh in this non-fictional endeavour, celebrating the two legends of Indian tennis.
"I had a vision that two Indian boys could conquer the world in tennis and win Wimbledon. Until then, no Indian had won a senior title at Wimbledon. When we went on to get to all four Grand Slam finals in 1999 we won the French, we won Wimbledon. Mahesh and myself went on to do some great things," Leander Paes had said in an interview with The Times of India
For Ashwiny and Nitesh, this has been a surreal experience as well - dipping their fingers into controversial territories. "It's great to bring to screen a series like this on a home-grown video streaming platform like ZEE5. Working with icons like Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes has been surreal and to bring their untold story to screen is something that we will cherish forever," they said in a joint statement.
Firstly, the very fact that the two have decided to look beyond their many differences - a product of the countless ego clashes they have had and agreed for Break Point is in itself a miracle, of sorts and for the Indian tennis fan - this is much-awaited.
"Mahesh and my on-court partnership was widely covered, and our off-court chemistry was largely speculated. This is the first time that our fans will get to see and hear it all, first-hand," the 48-year-old Paes said, in anticipation of Break Point.
"Mahesh and I worked really hard to put India on the top of world tennis and we are glad that we are getting a chance to present our story to the world, like never before," Paes said.
To get Mahesh onboard was also something. Given that he is mostly soft-spoken and does not talk a lot - "It is no secret that I am reserved when it comes to communicating, so this is a big step for me to relive the journey and put it all out there in the most candid and honest manner," the 47-year-old revealed.
Break Point is due to release soon on Zee5 and it will definitely create waves and put the speculations about Lee-Hesh to rest, for once and all.