After announcing a biopic on badminton ace Saina Nehwal in 2015, Amole Gupte spent a year-and-a-half researching the film, travelling between Mumbai and Hyderabad, Nehwal’s hometown, while shooting his upcoming kids action film, ‘Sniff.’
The exhaustive schedule has left the writer-filmmaker with two terabytes of material stored on his computer. “Besides meeting Saina’s close associates, I gathered together videos of her to understand her personality. I’ve also been to the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) to watch her play. Her killer instinct is inspiring, she is the tigress beti of India who has made us proud,” says the filmmaker.
When he met Nehwal’s mother, Usha Rani, for the first time she fed him home-made parathas, reports Mumbai Mirror. “They are simple people and the atmosphere was so homely. The parathas are Saina’s favourite and will make it in the biopic too,” Gupte laughs.
The filmmaker justifies his extensive research by explaining that he wanted to understand the individual that is Nehwal, her values and her champion’s instinct. “I have spent days with her, her parents (Harvir Singh and Usha), her mentor, Pullela Gopichand, and several of her coaches. She was born in Haryana but landed up in Hyderabad. The film begins from before she was born,” he points out, adding that the biopic will also feature Sania’s exploits at the Olympics, BWF World Championships and the BWF World Junior Championships.
Interestingly, Gupte’s actor-son Partho Gupte, who has featured in some of his last directorials, may compose a song for the film. “He is a huge fan, Saina gave him her India blazer which he has kept in his closet,” Gupte reveals.
He wants to start filming in a couple of months and will begin casting soon. He has a wish-list that he won’t reveal just yet. “It’s a challenging role. The actress will have to spend time learning the sport and getting the look right. My close friend and badminton player Sudhanshu Hukku will be a consultant on the film,” Gupte signs off.
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