Saina, the biopic based on the life of badminton player Saina Nehwal, has been making headlines ever since it was announced in 2017. From cast change to postponement of production, the movie has undergone a sea change.
In 2018, it was announced that Shraddha Kapoor will play Saina Nehwal on screen. In fact, the actor had even started prepping for it. But, things didn’t work out, and the movie went to Parineeti Chopra. However, Parineeti wasn’t concerned about stepping into another actor’s shoes.
Rather, for her, the pressure was of a different kind. “I only had my pressure and that of my director. I wanted to impress him, and work hard to learn the sport. The pressure was me, my coach approving what I'm learning, and my director approving what I’m looking like on screen. Other than that, I didn't take any external pressure,” Parineeti quipped.
“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,” Parineeti added.
The film, directed by Amole Gupte, will bring to life ace badminton player, Saina Nehwal’s, journey. And, stepping in to play such a revered and known personality is not an easy task. Not just for the actor playing the person on screen, but also for the makers to not distort the person’s narrative by taking cinematic liberties. Hence, making biopics is tricky, and there have been many examples of failed filmmaking in that genre.
In such a scenario, when many fans of Saina will be breaking down every small bit of the film into rights and wrongs, handling that pressure must have come with it’s own set of challenges.
“Every film is a risk, and there was immense pressure on the actors and makers. But, we had Saina’s support. She gave us full access to her life. I would call her, video chat with her, and she would patiently answer all my questions. It helped us manage the pressure in a better way,” Parineeti said.
Parineeti’s journey as Saina began two years ago when she heard the narration. Learning more about Saina’s life and her 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 — was a revelation for Parineeti. “I knew everything that was in the media about her, but didn’t know what her journey was like. A Google search would tell you she came from Haryana, and achieved success. But, Amol [Gupte] sir spent time with the family and got the real emotions out — like what the mother felt when Saina was eating a meal, or what her father felt when they didn’t have money, or what the sister felt when she was training. The behind the scenes of the world class player, that was a winning point for me,” Parineeti said.
Be it Hasee Toh Phasee, Meri Pyaari Bindu, or Namaste England, Parineeti has appeared in several romantic-comedies. And, breaking the girl-next-image is what led Parineeti to take up a challenging film like Saina. “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. They were writing roles, which were similar, and I was choosing those. When this film came to my life, I wanted to surprise everyone by doing something I'm not known for. I wanted to do something different, something which makes me feel like I have given my best to,” the actor signed off.
Saina, backed by Bhushan Kumar-led T-Series, will hit the theatres on March 26. On the work front, Parineeti's movie, The Girl on the Train, is currently streaming on Netflix.