Updated: March 26, 2021 10:34:21 am
Six years ago when writer-director Amol Gupte began bringing the eventful journey of ace badminton player Saina Nehwal to screen, little did he know that the film’s own ride will be filled unforeseeable halts. At one point, Gupte thought his desire of making the Saina biopic would remain unfulfilled. “And today, we have prints of the film. What more can one ask for?” he says days ahead of the film’s release in theatres on March 26.
It was 2018, when Saina went on floors with Shraddha Kapoor in the lead role. Weeks into the filming, reports surfaced that the actor was considering bowing out of the project, leading to the speculation about Gupte being unhappy with Shraddha’s performance. Neither of them made any comment at the time.
Saina producer Bhushan Kumar, however, broke his silence early 2019 and shared that Shraddha’s poor health owing to dengue was the reason she couldn’t continue the film. Soon, Parineeti Chopra was announced as her replacement.
In an interview with indianexpress.com, Gupte opens up about the stressful time, while quashing rumours about hostility between him and Shraddha Kapoor.
“Once Shraddha had come on board, she had slogged. She was finely tuned as an athlete for the role and then she got dengue. Now that’s the setback. That’s not Shraddha but a mosquito, if I have to bring truth to it. You can do a film where there are emotional scenes but here you have to stand 12 hours on a badminton set and show that you are Saina Nehwal. The fatigue from dengue cannot allow you to stand there. So, there was an inordinate gap.”
Gupte says that Shraddha used the forced break from Saina to shoot for Nitesh Tiwar’s college-drama Chhichhore as it was a lighter film. While the Saina team waited for Shraddha to recover, another setback awaited them. Katrina Kaif walked out of Bhushan Kumar’s Street Dancer 3D around that time. The producer needed her replacement on an urgent basis, given it was a “big film”,
“…Another setback, which had nothing to do with me. There was a bigger film of my producer Mr Bhushan Kumar and he required in crisis Shraddha to be the heroine of that film with Varun Dhawan. In the same breath, he brought in Parineeti Chopra for all of us. So it was a win win for all of us. It wasn’t that somebody was thrown out or somebody was walking out of the film. That kind of hostile scenario neither happens in my films nor in my life,” Gupte says.
But didn’t the waiting period exhaust the director? Didn’t it make him fear the film might not see the light of the day? “Yes of course,” the director says, before adding, “This self doubt is going to happen with every new information that you get which is a setback. my producer was hell bent on making the film. (Also) waiting is a part of the process. I respect waiting. What do you do in the waiting period? You change the script a little more. You write another scene. You change the film’s form and shape.”
Saina traces Saina Nehwal’s journey to becoming a world champion. It also traces her bond with her parents, and touches upon gender related taboos in our society.
The biopic also stars Manav Kaul, Subhrajyoti Barat and Meghna Malik, among others.
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