Athiya Shetty to play Kashmiri footballer Afshan Ashiq in Manish Harishanka’s ‘Hope Solo’

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Gulshan Grover’s US-based son Sanjay had purchased the film rights to the life of Kashmiri student and footballer Afshan Ashiq, who was given the controversial tag of a stonepelter when a picture of her hurling a stone at security forces during protests in Srinagar went viral. The 22-year-old, who is admired in the Valley for her passion for the sport, had met Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Mehbooba Mufti last year as she put together a team of women footballers and started training them. The biopic, titled ‘ Hope Solo’, will be directed by Manish Harishankar, who has previously assisted Rajkumar Santoshi on ‘ Ajab Prem ki Gazab Kahani’, ‘ Halla Bol’ and ‘ Phata Poster Nikla Hero’, and is written by Saiwyn Quadras (of Mary Kom, Neerja and Parmanu fame).
Now, Mirror has learnt that Athiya Shetty has been roped in to play Afshan in the biopic which will roll this year and will be shot in Kashmir. The makers approached the 25-yearold actress over six months ago, but the paperwork was completed recently.
“Unlike most Indian biopics, this film will not be a success story but an emotional journey that portrays one girl’s fight against a system. It will focus on several movements like Khelo India, a national programme for the development of sports in the country, and the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme for women empowerment. Afshan’s dream has always been to be a national-level goalkeeper and represent India in international women’s football. The film will focus on these aspirations,” a source told Mirror.
Meanwhile, Athiya, who made her Bollywood debut opposite Sooraj Pancholi in the 2015 Salman Khan production Hero, which was directed by Nikkhil Advani, has always been a football fan and played the sport as a student.The source adds, “Athiya is presently practicing football daily to step into Afshan’s shoes and has also been training as a goalkeeper. Her prep will also include learning Kashmiri and acclimatising with the accent.” Last year, the actress, who is a New York Film Academy alumnus, had featured in the Anees Bazmee comedy caper, ‘ Mubarakan’, alongside Anil and Arjun Kapoor. ‘ Hope Solo’ will be her third Bollywood film. Sanjay plans to take ‘ Hope Solo’ to an international market and has locked a deal with a big-ticket worldwide production giant for the biopic.
The source added, “Having studied the business of entertainment in Hollywood , the 27-year-old filmmaker has spent the last five years as Director of Special Projects with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Sanjay is presently casting for the other prominent characters in the film,”
Interestingly, Sanjay went to school with Athiya and Sooraj, as well as other Bollywood actors including Sonam Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Tiger Shroff.

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