Shraddha Kapoor will portray Saina and Tollywood actor Sudheer Babu will play Gopichand, while Deepika might be roped in to play Sindhu.

A win for badminton Pullela Gopichand Saina Nehwal PV Sindhu biopics in the makingShraddha Kapoor/Twitter
Flix Biopics Monday, October 01, 2018 - 17:21

In the wake of several successes on the badminton court for India post the Rio Olympics in 2016, the film industry evinced interest in producing biopics on the life and times of the three of the sport’s biggest Indian names – Pullela Gopichand, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. But in spite of basic content on Gopichand and Saina available in the form of biographies, it took time to cull out movie scripts and screenplays, and the productions were stuck on the drawing board for long.

Finally the Saina biopic is on the floors, as a strange coincidence at the same time that news of her impending marriage to fellow badminton player and former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Parupalli Kashyap broke. On 22 September, the movie shoot took off, with the makers of Saina releasing the first look of actor Shraddha Kapoor who has been pencilled to play the title role. Saina Nehwal also took to Twitter, with the tease question: “Doesn’t she look just like me?”

Being directed by Amole Gupte, the Saina biopic had reportedly run into issues with its script. According to Team Saina, neither the player nor Gopichand were initially happy with the way the characters were fleshed out.

“Both of them asked the writers to make certain changes,” Harvir Singh, Saina’s father had said in August. At that stage, Gopi also pointed out that the makers of the movie had tried to “overdramatise” the characters.

When the project was first announced in 2017, Shraddha Kapoor had come down to the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad last September to train herself in the sport. But with the actor busy with other projects like Saaho and Stree, the Saina biopic was put on the backburner.

Once those projects were behind her, Shraddha took out time to get into the groove. Which meant not just look and play like Saina but also have the body language of a sportsperson. The actor who had won accolades for essaying the role of Haseena Parkar, Dawood Ibrahim’s sister, practised badminton for a couple of hours every other day and sought Saina’s help on getting the nuances of the sport right.

Originally planned for a summer of 2017 release, the Hindi-Telugu bilingual Gopichand biopic was to capture his life as a player and end with his triumph at the All-England championship in Birmingham in 2001. The producers believe Gopi’s life is very filmy and inspirational, with the early struggle, his love story with fellow badminton player PVV Lakshmi who he married, the role played by his mother in his career, the injury that almost finished his career and then the win in the UK that changed the face of Indian badminton.

“The makers of the film on my life have been in touch with my mother and three of my close friends, showing them the script. Frankly I do not have the time to read the script. If they are okay with it, I will be fine with it,” said Gopichand.

Playing Gopi will be actor Sudheer Babu, a former badminton player who incidentally used to train with Gopi at the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bengaluru in the late 1990s. The player-turned-actor who has acted in Telugu films like Gautam Menon’s Ye Maaya Chesave and Sammohanam opposite Adita Rao Hydari, believes he need not prepare for the role as he has seen Gopi at close quarters.

“I have played doubles with him. I only need to change my look to resemble him,” said Sudheer Babu.

Preliminary script-related work on the third badminton related biopic on Sindhu is still on. Actor Sonu Sood, who is producing the biopic, had flown in to Hyderabad last year to spend time with the shuttler. Sood had then spoken about roping in Deepika Padukone to play Sindhu’s character given her badminton genes. Deepika is the daughter of Indian badminton legend Prakash Padukone and has herself played badminton before turning to modelling and acting, and hence the argument was that she would not need extensive training to play the game for the camera.

In fact, Sood also played a game against Sindhu at the academy and surprised her with his quality of badminton, getting the better of the Rio Olympics silver medallist on court. But not much has happened after that, with Sood busy with his film commitments and Sindhu with her extremely tight badminton training and tournament calendar.

“What’s the hurry? She has a lot more laurels to earn,” said PV Ramana, Sindhu’s father.

Also read: Watch: Kerala man's reply to people commenting on his wife's weight is a winner

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