Directors Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari and Nitesh Tiwari give the audience a documentary series that they rightly deserve; making you fall in love with it even if you were never into tennis
Documentaries in India are a tricky and risky terrain. They don’t get funds. They don’t theatrical releases. They don’t receive audience’s adulation. All this, ofcourse generally speaking. But documentary filmmaking in India has always been powerful and strong. Break Point is one such addition to the list of impeccable documentaries (this one is a documentary series), that gives an actual insight into controversy, through first hand narratives. It just can’t get better than this.
Watch the trailer here:
The documentary series traces the life journey of Indian tennis legends Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi right from their early days to their heydays, their pairing, their rise and fall (and rise and fall again and so on).
Spread across 7 episodes, the series is a an example of how narrative is a very important element of documentary as well, much like the features. Firstly, it’s an idea that deserves a standing ovation. Anybody who is closely associated with the world of tennis in India, has always been intrigued about the lives and pairing of Paes-Bhupathi and what went wrong. Something went wrong, was known by all. How and why- nobody knew. You have it all here. Kudos to makers (two powerhouse filmmakers) for not making this a feature film, or else the gravitas would be all lost in the questions of authenticity.
Here, you have Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, their parents, coaches, trainers, international players who they played against, team managers, journalists of that time- all of them coming tell their story. A story that matters. Without filters. What is to be noted here that the makers have not only given you a strong dramatic story, they have also tries to keep it very real, accepting inputs on the same incident from different people. The perspectives open your eyes, shock you, wrench you, fill you with anger and you feel you are living their lives.
The series evokes an array of emotions- more on the lines of teaching you life lessons. But never going preachy about it. The note at which the 7th episode ends, chances are that you will find yourself in tears. You get engrossed in the story so well that it becomes the edge of the seat affair. And you thought only thrillers can do that. Credit goes to the intelligent filmmaking that despite being a documentary, it very nicely adheres to the pattern of series of keeping a hook at the end of every episode. The reactions captured, the topics raised are so puzzling and engaging, that you would not put your device down till you have figured out what happens next.
Coming to think of it, they’ve had a really long journey. Grand Slams, Olympics, Asian Games, partnership, partnership being called off, injuries, ego clashes, personal lives- all happening for over a decade. It’s incredible how the two Tiwaris have captured the feel without ever losing on the intensity. There is drama and melodrama, humour that occurs between friends, camaraderie of partners in a sport, angst, thrill of a live match, blame game, comments that count, comments that don’t count, and perspectives- making for a piece that’s bound so well that you never feel that you aren’t watching a feature film.
The people are real. What they say and how they say has also made a significant impact on the overall finesse of the series. The aspects and elements of filmmaking are also never ignored. While watching the film, you tend to forget that this is a documentary and how arduous it is to make one. You get mesmerized in almost every scene of every episode, majorly because of the flow that has been achieved.
It’s a strong approach by Ashwiny and Nitesh, right from the word ‘go’. The feel along with catering to the sporting flavour of the film, renders so many emotions and holds you tightly all throughout. You feel the narrative moving from one point to another and when one major setback occurs, you are in for amazement as to what will happen next. You are exited and curious. The sentiment of ‘India’ has also been maintained by the makers, which ofcourse has been made to come from the words of Paes-Bhupathi, which again is a masterstroke.
The score by has been carefully designed and gives the film richness in terms of its reception. It is a tricky terrain as you don’t have much to play around with. Challenging is the situation. But it has been made to strike harder with positive energy flowing. You sense a feel of pride when it’s time or sadness when players talk that way. Emotions come alive majorly through intelligent score.
Cinematography must be applauded to no bounds. The frames have depth, almost all of them. The ones that don’t have depth during the interviews, background lighting has been used to offer visual richness. There are are cutaways that complement incredibly to the narrative. You never feel bored of seeing one person on screen for a long time, because there is variety is how they are made to sit and talk to the camera. The sets are also elite and exquisite. The colours are sobre and with this kind of a subject, suit perfectly to the narrative.
But editing by is hands down a winner. Had it not been for such exemplary editing, the film would be just another documentary with less vision. The editing makes it interesting and thrilling to watch. It is editing that gives it a flow. It is editing that majorly makes up for what you are supposed to feel and when. This one here is a lesson in editing for sure.
It’s a series that every Indian should watch. You love Tennis or not. You definitely know these Indian men who put India on the world map in a sport that was opted by so many in our country, only after them.