Leisure http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure.rss en Thu Sep 02 17:06:16 IST 2021 https://www.theweek.in/privacy-an-settlement.html connoisseurs-trying-to-revive-avadhi-cuisine-as-prepared-in-royal-kitchens-of-yore <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/connoisseurs-trying-to-revive-avadhi-cuisine-as-prepared-in-royal-kitchens-of-yore.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2021/9/23/Mohsin.jpg" /> <p><br> <br> </p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>To eat or not to eat is not a Shakespearean dilemma with a biological twist. It is a question of anthropology- of what cultures deem fit, of geography- of what is available and of culture- of what can nurture creativity. And under the rulers of Avadh, it was the question and the answer to what it meant to live amidst a constantly evolving refinement.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>In the court of Avadh- fashion, poetry, calligraphy, architecture, music and dance scaled never experienced heights. And in its cuisine, there was a coming together of all that it meant to experience the most delicate and the most heightened visual, artistic, spiritual, and gastronomical delights.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>There is nary a city in today’s India which does not have at least one restaurant offering Avadhi delicacies. But most of these are derelicts with just a label that is expected to miraculously conjure the tastes that were so relished in what was once India’s most glittering court.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The most obvious but overlooked of these representations comes in form of the biriyani. It is a dish ubiquitously attributed to Avadh with many heated arguments over which city between Hyderabad and Lucknow produces the better variety. Yet it is a delicacy that was never cooked in the province to start with!</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Biriyani came to Avadh from Delhi and Hyderabad with the royal brides who brought their retinue of cooks with them. But the parboiled rice with meat pieces was at once declared by the nawabs to be too coarse for their delicate palettes. Thus, efforts were made to improve it. This resulted in the&nbsp;<i>yakhni pulao&nbsp;</i>in which the rice was cooked in rich meat stock and no bone pieces or whole spices obstructed its eating.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>‘<i>Dastarkhwan-e-Avadh- The cuisine of Avadh’</i>, written by Sangeeta Bhatnagar and Raj Kumar Saxena, is a book that contains many recipes from the kitchens of the erstwhile royalty and elite. These recipes that were tried, re-tried and perfected by the authors come together in what remains a definitive book on the region’s cuisine. Its popularity is evident from the fact that since its first edition in 1997, the book has been often quoted and more often plagiarized.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Bhatnagar says that while there is a revival of interest in Avadh’s cuisine, big misconceptions about it remain. One of the most glaring of these is that the cuisine is synonymous with Mughlai food, despite the historical and political fact that Avadh was a different kingdom.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>She offers an easy primer on the standout difference- Mughlai food has overpowering spices (and often excessive use of&nbsp;<i>kasoori methi</i>&nbsp;or fenugreek) and the finished product will have whole spices and often swim in oil. In Avadhi food, everything is ground to a fine paste. Even curries are sieved through a muslin cloth. “It is a smooth symphony of flavours”, she says. So smooth is this blending that the true flavours of Avadhi kitchen will not even smell of&nbsp;<i>ghee&nbsp;</i>(clarified butter)- the cooking medium used. This is achieved by what is known as ‘<i>ghee durust karna’</i>. That is a tempering of the cooking medium with the addition of&nbsp;<i>kewra</i>&nbsp;water (distilled extract of screwpine flower) and cardamoms so that the smell of its rawness is eliminated.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>So why was the variety of such a refined cuisine lost over the years? And why did it come to be identified almost solely with kebabs and (the misleading) biriyani? And why was it so wrongly limited to only non-vegetarian food?</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Saxena, who was serving as the director of the Institute of Hotel Management, Lucknow when he was asked to write the aforementioned book, says that the food still exists but in a ‘modified, corrupted form’.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>“Unlike, say French cuisine, the history, documentation and classification of which is well preserved, there is little written material available on local cuisines. This is true of other cuisines as well such as Punjabi food. Much of the experimentation and art was born in the kitchen of the elites and was not in the public domain”, says Saxena.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>There is also the challenge of how food was cooked. The maxim- that which is cooked slow tastes best, is almost impossible to follow in this day of fast, processed and convenient food.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>‘<i>Dadi/Nani se suna tha’</i>&nbsp;(heard it from my grandmother) often remains the most quoted source for where and how some of the lost recipes are sought to be recreated.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>It was these memories that Mohsin Qureshi, the chef of Azrak restaurant at Lucknow’s Lebua Hotel dug into to capture the essence of the flavours of yore. Qureshi comes from a family of chefs or&nbsp;<i>khansamas</i>&nbsp;as they were then known. An ancestor also had a certificate of appreciation from Queen Elizabeth. “The journey from&nbsp;<i>khansamas&nbsp;</i>to chefs gave us hope that our calling would not die out”, says Qureshi.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>At Azrak, Qureshi curates food experiences attempting to never repeat the dishes. His patrons include film stars, and on the day he meets us, one is around at the restaurant. “The spices are the key to Avadhi food”, he says listing&nbsp;<i>jarakus</i>&nbsp;(lemon grass),&nbsp;<i>pathar ke phool</i>&nbsp;(black stone flower) and the stem of betel leaves as some long-forgotten condiments. “The leaves of cauliflowers and taro made for some of the most sumptuous dishes' ', he says dismissing the myth that Avadhi cuisine has no place for vegetarian dishes. He serves up&nbsp;<i>anjeer&nbsp;</i>(fig) and cream kebabs to prove this point. Both the flavours come through delicately.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>However, a reliance on memory can also lead to some level of subterfuge. One example of this is a dish called ‘<i>Wajid Ali Shah ke baghare baingan’</i>&nbsp;(fried aubergine of Wajid Ali Shah- Avadh’s last nawab). In the few texts which document the foods of the time, there is no mention of this dish. And thus, there is no story attached to it. But food and stories must go together. For instance, as in the Pavlova meringue- a dessert named after a Russian ballerina and created when she toured New Zealand and Australia.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Subterfuge was elevated to an art form in Avadh’s erstwhile kitchens. In the book ‘<i>Lucknow- The Last Phase of an Oriental Culture’</i>, Abdul Halim Sharar, who served in the court of Wajid Ali Shah, recounts some such examples. In one, a ‘light tasty and delicious’&nbsp;<i>murabba&nbsp;</i>(a conserve) was placed before a prince invited to dine with Shah. But though it looked like a conserve, it was a meat curry and left the connoisseur guest highly embarrassed at his inability to recognize it.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Shahnawaz Qureshi, the chef at a Lucknow restaurant called Tanatan (a slang for spiffy) has put this deception to use in the&nbsp;<i>chicken barfi</i>&nbsp;(a sweetmeat that looks like snow) he creates in his kitchen. He picked on the idea from a dish called ‘<i>mirchi ka halwa’</i>- an antithetical sounding dish for how can chilli be a dessert? For the sweetmeat, which Qureshi produces only on request, minced chicken leg and breast are boiled in a paste of ginger and garlic paste, repeatedly strained, and added to ground split Bengal gram. “Those who have not eaten it do not ask for it. But once you eat it, you will ask for it repeatedly”, says Qureshi.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>The delights of Avadh’s kitchens were not limited to the elite. Commoners too would revel in the cooking and laying out of food. (The latter is captured in the evocative word&nbsp;<i>dastarkhwan&nbsp;</i>which means the spread of a meal.)&nbsp;</p> <p>Noor Khan, an educationist and a food enthusiast who participates in a yearly festival of crafts, food and culture in Lucknow, cooking her&nbsp;<i>kheema lal mirch</i>&nbsp;(mince meat in red chilies) for the Sunday lunch in the gathering says that in her family of government officers eating in tune with the season was as much in vogue as was in the homes of the elite. “If it is the season of mangos, they will be used to add a tanginess to lentils, and for conserves and pickles. If papayas are in season, they will be used to tenderise meats”. Thus, eating what was fresh and seasonal was the norm in Avadh long before modern-day food scientists espoused it.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Sweets and desserts, much-maligned in today’s health lexicon also enjoyed an exalted position. To partake of these was spoken of in the words ‘<i>muh meetha karna’</i>- or to sweeten the mouth. The Muslims who made these were called&nbsp;<i>rakabdars,</i>&nbsp;the Hindus,&nbsp;<i>halwai</i></p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>Ravindra Gupta, the chief executive officer of Chappan Bhog, one of Lucknow’s most popular sweet shops says that&nbsp;<i>halwais</i>&nbsp;are traditionally a community ordained in the oldest religious texts to cook the foods that are to be offered to the Gods. In a larger reference to this, food is referred to as a&nbsp;<i>naimat</i>&nbsp;or blessing.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>“Our ancestors never practiced any trade other than the making of sweets. We have modified traditional sweets such as the balushahi (doughnut) and malpua (pancake) to convenient, bite-sized pieces. The simple amalgamation of ghee, wheat and sugar produces the most naturally delicious food that one cannot resist”, he says.&nbsp;</p> <p>For true food lovers, no lane is too narrow and no distance too large to partake in Avadh’s delicacies. A little over 20 kilometres from Lucknow is a small town called Kakori- which lends its name to one of the best-known kebabs.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> Here, on a pushcart, Faheem Ahmad skewers seekh kebabs which draw film stars and politicians. Ahmad is a fourth-generation expert of these kebabs which melt in the mouth. He lists ingredients that go into these- cloves, papaya, black pepper, cream, poppy seeds, almonds etc. “Then there are the secret ingredients. The taste comes from the hand grinding of these on a mortar”, he says. It is a task to which the whole family contributes.&nbsp;</p> <p><br> Sheeba Iqbal has been curating Avadhi dining experiences at her lavish home in old Lucknow since 2018. She says that over time there has been a steady rise in the number of tourists who reach out to her to experience the Avadh of yesteryears. “It is the true travellers who scour lanes and bylanes who come to me. It makes me happy that more and more young people are attracted to it&quot;, she says.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is in these experiences that the dilemmas of food dissolve in a gush of deliciousness. And the glories of Avadh are re-born and re-lived.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Recipes:<br> <br> Murg Ke Parche</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ingredients</p> <p>500 gm Chicken breast</p> <p>Salt to taste</p> <p>25 gm Ginger garlic paste</p> <p>2 tsp Lemon juice</p> <p>100 gm Fried onion paste</p> <p>1 tsp Yellow chilli powder</p> <p>½ tsp Black pepper powder</p> <p>¼ tsp Green cardamom mace powder</p> <p>¼ tsp Black cardamom powder</p> <p>2 tbsp Ghee</p> <p>1 drop Sweet ittr</p> <p>2 tsp Kewra water</p> <p>½ tsp Chat masala</p> <p>20 gm Green coriander</p> <p>1 tbsp Pomegranate seeds</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Servings – 3-4</p> <p>Prep time - 20 minute</p> <p>Cooking time - 15 minute</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Directions</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>1 Wash chicken breast, remove excess fat and cut into thin slices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>2 Marinate chicken slices with ginger garlic paste, lemon juice, salt and keep aside for two hours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>3 Make smooth paste of fried onion and remaining ingredients. Then add the marinated chicken slices and mix well, keep aside for three to four hours.</p> <p>Put chicken slices in a wooden skewer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>4 Grill the marinated chicken skewers on moderate temperature till done.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>5 Serve along with ring onion, lemon wedges and mint chutney. Sprinkle chat masala and pomegranate on top.<br> <br> <b><i>Courtesy: Chef Mohsin Qureshi</i></b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Avadhi Kathal Pulao</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ingredients:<br> 1/2kg Jackfruit (peeled, washed and cut into 1 1/2’’pieces)</p> <p>2 1/2 cups, long grain Basmati Rice<br> 3 medium sized onions<br> 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste<br> 6 green chillies (washed and slit)<br> 2 tbsp yoghurt (whisked)<br> 1/4 cup milk<br> 1/2 tsp saffron<br> 1 bayleaf<br> 1 brown cardamom<br> 4 green cardamoms<br> 6 cloves<br> 1’’piece cinnamon stick<br> 1 tsp mace<br> I/2 tsp coriander powder<br> 1/2 tsp cumin powder<br> 1/2 tsp red chilli powder<br> 1tbsp cumin seeds<br> 1 tbsp coriander seeds<br> 1 tbsp fennel seeds<br> 1 tsp whole black peppercorns<br> Salt to taste<br> 200 g ghee<br> Dough for sealing<br> 2-3 pieces of coal (optional)<br> Method:<br> <br> 1 Wash and soak the rice for at least 15 minutes.<br> 2&nbsp; In a large sauce pan, boil water (approx. 3l), with 2tsp salt, bay leaf, brown cardamom,4 cloves, 2 green cardamoms, mace, whole coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns and green chillies, for 15 mins. Then strain the water and keep aside. Discard the whole spices.<br> 3 Dissolve the saffron strands in lukewarm milk.&nbsp;<br> 4 Peel the onions. Finely slice 2 onions, and grind to a paste 1 onion.<br> 5 Heat the ghee in a kadhai, reserving 2 tbsp for later use.<br> 6 Fry the sliced onions to a light golden colour, remove and place on absorbent paper.<br> 7 Pat dry the, the jackfruit pieces, with a kitchen towel, and fry in the ghee till golden brown, remove and keep.<br> 8 In the same ghee, add 2 cloves, 2 cardamoms and stick of cinnamon, then add the onion paste, stir for 2 mins., then add the ginger-garlic paste and the powdered coriander, cumin and red chillies. Reduce the heat to minimum, then add the yoghurt and salt to taste, stir gently. Cover and cook on low for 5 mins. Then remove from the stove.<br> 9 Now put the saucepan of the spice-flavoured water on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the soaked rice, gently, and cook on medium heat till almost done. Remove from the heat and drain out the water, and quickly spread on a greased tray. Check for salt, if needed, season with salt, and drizzle the reserved ghee. Gently toss the rice so that the salt and ghee mix evenly. <br> 10 Now, in a heavy bottomed vessel, deg or kadhai, layer half the rice, place the cooked jackfruit pieces on top, discard the whole spices, then cover with the remaining rice. Drizzle the saffron milk, put the lid on, and seal with dough. If you have hot coal, place 2-3 pieces on the lid, if not, cover with a thick cloth and cook on low heat for 10 mins. When done, give the vessel a gentle shake, then remove the lid and serve on a platter, garnished with the fried onions.<br> Serve with a raita.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Courtesy: Sangeeta Bhatnagar<br> <br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><br> <br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/connoisseurs-trying-to-revive-avadhi-cuisine-as-prepared-in-royal-kitchens-of-yore.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/connoisseurs-trying-to-revive-avadhi-cuisine-as-prepared-in-royal-kitchens-of-yore.html Thu Sep 23 17:17:38 IST 2021 memoir-akash-kapur-reminds-us-why-imperfect-utopias-are-better-than-creating-none <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/memoir-akash-kapur-reminds-us-why-imperfect-utopias-are-better-than-creating-none.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2021/9/23/68-akash-kapur.jpg" /> <p><b>It was</b> Oscar Wilde who said, “A map of the world that does not include utopia is not worth even glancing at.... Progress is the realisation of utopias.” But panning the concept of utopia has a long-standing intellectual tradition. The word, coined by the English humanist Thomas More, means “no place” or “nowhere” in Greek etymology; it is a pun which asks if a perfect society or a self-contained community with a common, cohesive culture and a way of life is even realisable. In 1872, novelist and critic Samuel Butler wrote about a fictional country “of eternal progress” in Erewhon, which is again an anagram for “nowhere.”</p> <p>But of the many reasons one should read Akash Kapur’s <i>Better to Have Gone: Love, Death and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville</i>, one is to learn how to appreciate utopia as a rationalist. That one can arrive at a renewed understanding of the mysterious workings of faith. That broad-brush dismissals of so-called cults and “hippie-dippie” communes are hardly fun. That there is really no single reality. And while most utopias fail, some can endure with its many fractures and factions.</p> <p>This is precisely the point Kapur emphasises in a phone interview from the US. “This kind of a notion that Auroville was a unitary phenomenon is misguided. There is no unitarian Aurovillian position. Auroville, from the inside, is like any small town in the world,” says Kapur about the complicated legacy of the “universal settlement” of Auroville, the city of dawn. Formally inaugurated in 1968 by a Frenchwoman, Blanche Rachel Mirra Alfassa or the Mother, to realise the impossible ideal of “human unity” on a strip of barren land near the former French colonial settlement of Puducherry, Auroville sought to create an alternative community where dreamers, drifters, seekers and rebels would cohabit to create a spiritually evolved society of “supramental” beings.</p> <p>Today, Auroville, while no longer the best version of itself, still functions as an intriguing, although somewhat corrupted, promised land where one can hope to live a more quiet, internalised existence. “It doesn’t have a leader. There is no central vision. It is an anarchic community,” says Kapur.</p> <p>The heart of <i>Better to Have Gone</i> is the fascinating, almost cinematic, story of John Anthony Drummond Walker and Diane Maes; John—a product of East Coast royalty, all “cocktail parties with crystal chandeliers”—and Diane, the beautiful, restless, drop-out from small-town Belgium. Both from radically different social backgrounds meet at Auroville with all the promise and optimism of inhabiting a secular new world which derives its philosophical core from the teachings of Sri Aurobindo.</p> <p>But the price that John and Diane end up paying for their purity and persistence—in a land troubled by its own competing conflicts and contradictions in the 1970s and 1980s—is recounted with the foreboding energy of a cliff-hanger. In this thrilling memoir, the ending is already known, but the bit-by-bit process to get to the denouement is the most captivating part. A complete insider, Kapur knows the lay of the land. He grew up in one of the earliest farms started in Auroville—Kottakarai, where Kapur lived with his parents in a single-room hut.</p> <p>After boarding school and college in the US, Kapur came back to Auroville in 2004 with his partner, Auralice, daughter to the late Diane. In a way, the book serves to liberate both Kapur and Auralice from the overwhelming weight of their shared history, with unprocessed, painful memories. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle, Kapur pieces together John and Diane’s journey through the tumult of a revolutionary Auroville; he weaves their character sketches from personal letters, postcards, diary entries, old photographs and extensive oral interviews conducted over five years. And the result is a scintillating cast of characters searching for their own respective utopia, always teetering on the edge of a precipice.</p> <p>Auroville never could become the utopia it originally envisioned itself to be. But perhaps in an echo of Wilde himself, Kapur knows the importance of the project, imperfect as it may be. Especially in a democratically fractured society that we now inhabit. “Auroville is an important reminder. At least here is an attempt to build something less materialistic, less inegalitarian. Personally, I appreciate that aspect.”</p> <p><i><b>Better to Have Gone: Love, Death and the Quest for Utopia in Auroville</b></i></p> <p><i>Published by Simon &amp; Schuster</i></p> <p><i>Price: Rs699 Pages: 354</i></p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/memoir-akash-kapur-reminds-us-why-imperfect-utopias-are-better-than-creating-none.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/memoir-akash-kapur-reminds-us-why-imperfect-utopias-are-better-than-creating-none.html Thu Sep 23 15:28:28 IST 2021 fifa-22-will-include-isl-in-its-roster-of-over-700-playable-side <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/fifa-22-will-include-isl-in-its-roster-of-over-700-playable-side.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2021/9/23/69-fifa-22.jpg" /> <p><b>Come October,</b> Kerala Blasters FC will have a chance to go toe-to-toe against Manchester United before a packed crowd at Old Trafford. Mumbai City FC can then take their turn, playing Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. When that game wraps up, ATK Mohun Bagan and FC East Bengal can settle the next Kolkata Derby at the Allianz Arena.</p> <p>Far fetched? Not quite. FIFA 22, the next edition of the FIFA video game series, will include the Indian Super League and its 11 teams in its roster of 700+ playable sides. The intersection between India’s FIFA-playing market and ISL-viewing audience is likely a lucrative one (video games made FIFA more money in 2020 than actual sporting events) but for decades, Indian sport and, to some extent Indians themselves, have found scarce playable representation in video games.</p> <p>Though you could play as India as early as FIFA Football 2002, the team has been featured regularly only since FIFA 13. In that regard, FIFA lagged behind rival Pro Evolution Soccer , which had retained India as a playable side as early as 2006. While the PES franchise has long struggled to have licensed premier league teams (forcing the in-game Real Madrid to go by “MD White” and Manchester United, by “Man Red”), it had no such shortcomings for the Indian side in PES 6. It even featured the current East Bengal goalkeeper Subrata Pal, and the rather epicly named midfielder, Climax Lawrence.</p> <p>India is not a great team to pick in a FIFA game: The Blue Tigers have a measly single in-game “star” rating. They run slower, pass worse, and are generally a pain to play. But a good player wielding India can still beat an unskilled opponent wielding a five-star team like Barcelona, as many noobs to the game can testify. Regardless, here’s hoping that the ISL sides give their EPL counterparts a run for their (in-game) money.</p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/fifa-22-will-include-isl-in-its-roster-of-over-700-playable-side.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/fifa-22-will-include-isl-in-its-roster-of-over-700-playable-side.html Thu Sep 23 15:23:49 IST 2021 upcoming-docuseries-brings-together-paes-bhupathi-20-years-after-last-major-title <a href="http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/upcoming-docuseries-brings-together-paes-bhupathi-20-years-after-last-major-title.html"><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="http://img.theweek.in/content/dam/week/magazine/theweek/leisure/images/2021/9/23/70-break-point.jpg" /> <p><b>They are like</b> chalk and cheese, really. One, warm and chatty; the other, blunt and reserved. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, India’s most decorated tennis players, are like parallel lines that never meet. Yet, it was on these tracks that the famed ‘Indian Express’ chugged to three Grand Slam titles.</p> <p>The differences did not stop with their demeanour, unfortunately. Their bitter fallout is now as famous as their chest bumps. And, 20 years since their last major title together, the duo have come together to lay bare their rollercoaster relationship in the docuseries <i>Break Point</i>.</p> <p>When Bollywood director couple Ashwiny and Nitesh Tiwari broached the idea of a web series on this iconic partnership, it proved too hard for the tennis stars to ignore. “I called Leander and said, ‘Listen, we should explore this because they are some of the best storytellers in the country,’” Bhupathi told THE WEEK. “Even though we have been approached multiple times in the past, we never felt comfortable enough to take the plunge.” The Tiwaris’ love for tennis, he said, was a major factor.</p> <p>The makers have chosen to use raw, and rare, footage of the two to tell their story, instead of actors. Bhupathi says he got goosebumps going through the archives. The trailer of the series shows the two talking heads throwing shade at each other. But interestingly, over the one-and-a-half year shooting process, the duo may have actually bonded over it.</p> <p>“We got to laugh at a few of the things we had done,” said Paes. “We got to talk and communicate about things we could have done differently. The main motive behind doing <i>Break Point</i> is to inspire the next generation that two Indian boys had a dream, and despite our differences we could be world-beaters.”</p> <p>The series was filmed during the pandemic with the makers setting in place a strict bio-bubble. “Ashwiny took us to Rishikesh to shoot for the ambience there,” said Paes, adding how it was liberating to film in the open. “There is so much I learnt about film production in this process,” he said.</p> <p>The seven-part series will also feature legends like the Bryan brothers, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza speaking about the partnership, besides their own families.</p> <p>“There has always been that perennial question from fans about what if or why,” said Bhupathi. “Hopefully, this will answer those questions.”</p> <p>Asif Kapadia has famously made footage-heavy films to chronicle the careers of Diego Maradona and Ayrton Senna. A similar effort by the Tiwaris to narrate the tale of the ‘Indian Express’ through this docuseries—which releases October 1 on Zee5—could ignite a trend of documenting Indian sports stories without the PR bias.&nbsp; </p> http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/upcoming-docuseries-brings-together-paes-bhupathi-20-years-after-last-major-title.html http://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2021/09/23/upcoming-docuseries-brings-together-paes-bhupathi-20-years-after-last-major-title.html Thu Sep 23 15:20:12 IST 2021