Kashmiri footballer Afshan Ashiq made the headlines in April this year when the player, 21, was photographed hurling a stone at policemen during a street protest in the Valley. A film on Kashmir’s peace-loving youth icon is now set to go into production this January.
Ashiq had always vociferously taken a stand against violence, and the picture signified how tension in the state had driven the youth to frustration and despair. Even after the fateful event, she has stoically maintained that while she stands by her actions of that day, she does not endorse violence as a solution to Kashmir’s problems, reports Mid-Day.
Reports say the football star’s journey is being brought to the big screen by director Manish Harishankar in a biopic titled ‘Hope Solo.’ Having previously assisted Rajkumar Santoshi, he has also helmed ‘Chaarfutiya Chhokare’ (2014) and ‘Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo Deewana’ (2017). Sources say Kriti Sanon, Ileana D’Cruz and Athiya Shetty are the frontrunners to portray the youngster, who is currently a part of Mumbai’s PIFA Colaba FC.
Harishankar tells the media, “When I met Afshan, she spoke about the struggle she had to face to start playing football in Kashmir. Everyone, including her parents, were against the idea. Ladki hai, football kaise khelegi? She had to fight her parents and the society to realise her dreams. Living in Kashmir, she was bold enough to wear football jerseys with the Indian emblem on them.”
Harishankar reveals that Ashiq considers American soccer goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medallist Hope Solo as her role model and hence, the title. “Also, when you see her story, you will realise that Afshan is the only hope of Kashmir and its youth,” he says about the girl, who had taken it upon herself to train the women’s football team in Kashmir last year.
Regarding who would portray Ashiq in the movie Harishankar says, “All I can say is that we are in talks with few actresses. The actress needs to be tall and have an athletic frame to pull off the role of a sportsperson.” The director adds that the chosen actor will have to train in the sport before the film goes on floors in January.
The director hopes to spread a strong message about women empowerment with the biopic. “Our films have rarely touched upon the youth of Kashmir and their point of view. Afshan is bringing that to the fore — she is young and she wants to play for India. Her voice represents that of the Kashmiri youth.”
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