Director Amole Gupte has spoken about why actor Shraddha Kapoor, who was originally cast to play badminton player Saina Nehwal in a biopic, was replaced by Parineeti Chopra. Titled Saina, the film will be released in theatres on March 26.
In an interview, Amole said that the decision to relieve Shraddha was a studio mandate, as producer Bhushan Kumar wanted a lead actor for Street Dancer 3D. Released in early 2020, the film performed only moderately well at the box office, considering its hefty budget.
Amole told Bollywood Hungama that the switch was ‘happy happy’. He said in Hindi, “Maybe because I haven’t spoken about this, people must have felt that there was conflict behind-the-scenes. Fortunately for me, that didn’t happen.”
He continued, “Shraddha was in full preparation, which is why we started shooting. She practiced hard to become Saina, and was doing good work. But she got dengue, and became frail after spending a month in bed. She kept asking me if she could try and return, and we kept pushing. But one day, she admitted that she was feeling too weak.”
Amole said that Saina isn’t the sort of film in which an actor can deliver a performance without much physical exertion. “Here, you’re supposed to play badminton for 12 hours.” He said that it was agreed to let Shraddha go and shoot Chhichhore, as the team had booked a shooting location that wouldn’t have been available later. But once she wrapped the project, which recently won the National Film Award for best Hindi film, producer Bhushan Kumar requested Amole if she could be allowed to work on Street Dancer 3D instead, because he was in a ‘crisis’ and needed a ‘heroine’.
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“And he brought Parineeti in for me. It was all happy happy. Parineeti happy, Shraddha happy, Bhushan Kumar happy, and I am also very happy. At least the film wasn’t shut down. The film is like my child, nothing should happen to the child; it just took five years to arrive. We are happy parents,” he said.
Earlier, Parineeti had also spoken about her equation with Shraddha after she took over the role. Speaking to Pinkvilla, she said, “Of course, she was not able to do the film due to certain date issues and she had other films that she was doing. The thing is, there was never really any problem. This was something that the media made. Ki humein bada ek doosre se kuch problem hai (that we had some big problem with each other). She is the sweetest girl ever and we both are friends and we just had a great chat saying, ‘Listen, you know I am doing the film now’, and that was the end of it. It was very positive and very loving. I really wish the media would not make a big deal out of it. Because genuinely there was no issue.”