Parineeti Chopra's upcoming film Saina, written and directed by Amol Gupte, was earlier supposed to be headlined by Shraddha Kapoor who quit the project due to a scheduling conflict.
At its trailer launch, when Gupte was asked about Kapoor’s exit, he refused to comment and said, "I have COVID-19, so I can't hear anything. I won't be able to answer this. I won't answer this."
When Chopra was asked if she felt an added pressure to pick up a role that Kapoor had already started preparing for, she said that she focused only on playing the part to the best of her ability.
"I had only my pressure and that of my director. I wanted to impress him and work hard to learn the sport. I didn't take any external pressure. The pressure was me, my coach approving what I'm learning, my director approving what I'm looking like onscreen. There was no other pressure," Chopra told reporters.
Backed by Bhushan Kumar led T-Series, Saina marks the 32-year-old actor's return to the big screen post her 2019 comedy Jabariya Jodi.
Chopra said though under "immense pressure" to deliver, the team benefitted extensively with the access provided by Nehwal.
"We had full support from Saina. She gave us access to her life. I would call her, video call her, and she would answer all my questions. That way, pressure management was better.
"I already had the pressure to learn badminton, I couldn't have taken anything else. I would've crumbled and wouldn't have been able to concentrate. Doing Saina is a challenge for me," she added.
Chopra's journey with the movie began two years ago when she heard the narration.
Despite knowing the broad strokes of Nehwal's life and achievements—from being the first Indian to win two singles gold medals (2010 and 2018) in Commonwealth Games to becoming the poster girl for badminton in the country—Chopra said the script was a revelation.
"Amol sir spent time with the family and got the real emotions out. What the mother felt when Saina was eating a meal, what the father felt when they didn't have money, what the sister felt when she was training. The behind the scenes of the world class player. That was a winning point for me," she added.
After featuring in several romantic-comedies, from Hasee Toh Phasee, Meri Pyaari Bindu, to Namaste England, Chopra said she wanted to break the girl-next-door image.
"I was searching for a challenge like this. The films I was doing were pretty much an extension of me and also what writers and directors thought I was. When this film came into my life, I was looking to surprise everyone, do something I'm not known for.
"So a sports biopic of a person who's still in action is exactly the kind of role I would have done, even if it was fiction. Biopic was an added bonus," she added.
Saina is set to release theatrically on March 26.