It took Amole Gupte six years to complete his biopic on badminton champion Saina Nehwal. The film is all set to release with Parineeti Chopra essaying the part of the badminton ace. Talking about the movie, which is titled Saina, he says, “I felt like I had jumped off an aircraft with a parachute that wasn’t opening for a while. I thought I was going to crash land and disappear, but luckily it opened and I had a smooth landing.”
The project, which took off in 2015, faced a hurdle when Shraddha Kapoor, who was to star originally in the film, bowed out. What also took time was the immense research that went into making the project. “I knew only about Saina’s achievements, but nothing about her story,” he explains, adding, “I took the opportunity and a leap of faith to make a film on her when she became the World No 1 badminton player in 2015. Since August 15, I have been devoting my life 24/7 to the great lady called Saina Nehwal. Her life has been a kadhai of emotions.”
Amole says that it was in 2019 that Parineeti stepped in as Saina and within six months, the project went on the floor. “I spent a lot of time researching. We were in continuous contact with the family to understand Saina’s ecosystem. Had it not been for the pandemic, we would have delivered the film in less than 12 months. Now, we are coming in at a time where people are wary of going to theatres. It will be great if the people make this an inspirational pilgrimage to the theatre to watch the film,” he says.
The director recently screened the film to Saina’s parents. He says, “Saina is not in the country, so I showed the film to her parents, Usha Rani Nehwal and Dr Harvir Singh Nehwal. They are so simple and down-to-earth. They loved the film and got emotional watching their daughter’s story unfold on the screen. And I was overwhelmed by their reactions.”