Saina Nehwal: Sport on celluloid: Will these Indian biopics hit box office gold? | More sports News

NEW DELHI: In the changing landscape of Indian cinema, a hitherto untested type of film has over the past few years grown in number, and done very well at the box office – that of the biographical sports film. With the success of films such as
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Mary Kom
MS Dhoni: The Untold Story
(2016) and the blockbuster
(2016) there have been a spate of sports biopics launched in the past few months.

This year and in 2019, filmgoers and sports fans can look forward to at least five films based on famous sportspersons of the country – Saina Nehwal, Abhinav Bindra, Pullela Gopichand, Sandeep Singh and the great Balbir Singh Senior.

Reema Kagti, director of Aamir Khan’s
Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.
, will be helming a film titled
which is based on India’s first gold medal at the 1948 London Olympics. Headlining will be Akshay Kumar, playing the legendary Balbir Senior who won three Olympic golds in hockey (1948, 1952 and 1956) and was independent India’s first flag-bearer at the Olympics. An institution in himself, Balbir Senior is widely viewed as the unheralded equal to Dhyanchand, the worthiest inheritor of the mantle during hockey’s golden era. He scored goals by the dozens for independent India at the London, Helsinki and Melbourne Olympics and was the first sportsperson to be honoured with the Padma Shri in 1957.

Recently there were reports of the Saina biopic starring Shraddha Kapoor being shelved, but writer-director Amole Gupta denied those and said that the film will go on the floors in September.

Saina, of course, is the winner of India’s first Olympic medal in badminton – a bronze during the 2012 London Games. In 2008, she had become the first Indian shuttler to enter the quarter-finals of an Olympic Games, thus opening new gates for Indian badminton. Improving on that performance in London four years later reaffirmed the belief that Indian badminton had indeed come of age. Today, Saina is ranked 12th in the world and this past weekend was runner-up at the Indonesia Masters.

Sticking with badminton, there will be a bilingual film made on national badminton coach and former All England champion Gopichand, who has single-handedly turned India into a badminton superpower through his work as a coach. The film is being produced by Fox Star Studios in collaboration with Abundant Entertainment and will be released in Telugu and Hindi. Playing Gopichand in the film will be former badminton player and Telugu star Sudheer Babu, who is also a friend of Gopichand. Speaking to
recently, Gopichand had spoken of how he was very happy that a long-time friend was a part of the film. The director is Mohan KrishnaI Indraganti, a National Film Award winner.

There is also news for shooting fans, with the announcement of a biopic on Bindra, India’s only individual Olympic gold medalist and part of the PM-appointed Olympic Task Force. Starring Anil Kapoor‘s son Harshvardhan Kapoor – who made his Bollywood debut in 2016 with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s
– the film will be direct by Kannan Iyer and is reportedly being adapted from Bindra’s autobiography ‘
A Shot At History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold
‘. Bindra, 35, retired from competitive shooting after the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he reached his third final and came within 0.1 of winning a second medal at the pinnacle of world sport.

Shaad Ali, who helmed films such as
Bunty Aur Babli
Kill Dill
, is working on a biopic on former national hockey captain and Arjuna awardee Sandeep, titled
. Punjab film and music superstar Diljit Dosanjh is playing the titular character, and Taapsee Pannu is also a part of the film. Drag-flick specialists Sandeep led India to victory at the 2009 Azlan Shah Cup, and was part of the Indian team that won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Will these biopics hit the mark? It promises to be an interesting chapter in Indian cinema, no matter the fate of these films.

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