He played cricket like a professional in his blockbuster film Lagaan (2001), but Aamir Khan’s interest doesn’t only lie in the gentleman’s game. As badminton ace Saina Nehwal readies to go for the kill at the World Championships next week, the 21-year-old is looking forward to some encouraging words from an unusual fan — Aamir Khan.
The actor, in fact, has been regularly cheering for Saina and makes it a point to send her congratulatory messages before and after each game. “It’s very kind of him,” says Saina, adding that the 3 Idiots (2009) star follows sports very closely. “He not only keeps a tab on my events, but also encourages me. He sends me messages saying, ‘All the best. May you win the tournament’ before I go for competitions. Similarly, he messages me whenever I win a tournament. And it feels good because, after all, he is a big star.”
The Hyderabad resident, who is currently ranked No. 6 in the world, also made it a point to reciprocate. “After Delhi Belly became a hit, I sent him a congratulatory message. Since Aamir does things so perfectly, he gets all the success,” says Saina, adding that she hasn’t got a message from Aamir for World Championships as yet.
Of late, grapevine has been rife that Telugu filmmakers are chasing her for a film role. Is there any truth to that? “I’m happy and busy with one profession — badminton. Plus, I’m doing well for the country through it, so I would rather focus on that,” says the player, who is an ardent film buff and always carries DVDs with her on tours.
But she did mention that she would like to work with Rajinikanth? “My first priority is my game; and why only Rajinikanth? I’d love to work with Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir too. All of them are legends,” she smiles.
Lastly, ask Saina if she in touch with friend Deepika Padukone and she says, “Deepika is very clued in to badminton since she has also played the sport.” Besides being badminton legend Prakash Padukone’s daughter, not many know that the young actor has also played the game at state level. “Earlier, Deepika and I would keep in touch very regularly. Since she is a busy Bollywood star now, it’s difficult. But she’s a good friend.”
‘I am completely injury-free now’
Saina, who has played several tournaments with a bandaged ankle over the past few months, has also grappled with a ligament injury. But she says she is “absolutely fine” now. “It (ankle) has healed and I don’t feel any discomfort,” says the player, adding that she has worked hard on her fitness over the past few months. So is she finally thinking of the ultimate medal? “The Olympics is still far away (2012). There will be many tournaments before that including the Super Series. But of course, an Olympic gold is the ultimate dream,” she smiles.
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