Duration: 02 Hrs 15 Mins
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
Director: Amole Gupte
Writer: Amole Gupte, Amitosh Nagpal (Dialogue)
Based On: Saina Nehwal
Producers: Krishan Kumar, Bhushan Kumar, Sujay Jairaj, Rasesh Shah, Shiv Chanana
Music: Amaal Mallik
Cinematography: Piyush Shah
Editing: Deepa Bhatia
Production Company: T-Series Films, Front Foot Pictures
Release Date: 26th March 2021 (India)
Released: In Theatres
Star Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Manav Kaul, Meghna Malik, Ankur Vikal, Shubhrajyoti Barat, Eshan Naqvi, Rohan Apte, Ashmita Meghrajani, Sharrman Dey, Dimple Kalshan, Naishaa Kaur Bhatoye
Plot: The film is based on the life of badminton player Saina Nehwal, who ranked number one in the sport. It is the story of the making of the legendary badminton player.
Saina Nehwal (Parineeti Chopra) shifts from Hisar, Haryana to Hyderabad. Since her mother Usha Rani (Meghna Malik) has been a district-level badminton player in Haryana, she sees the same streak in Saina, hence decides to enroll Saina for badminton training. At the stadium, Saina shows off her skills as the coach says that the batch is full, but as she surprises everyone, she is given a chance.
Motivation from her mother and guidance from her coach improves Saina's game. Therefore, her mother convinces the coach to enlist Saina for district level and other such tournaments, even though she is too new. However, Saina, surprises and emerges victorious in these tournaments. She also gets a chance to play for the Indian national team.
Later, her mentor asks her to get a better coach, as now she is in another league. Hence, Saina joins Rajan Academy run by Sarvadhamaan Rajan (Manav Kaul). Rajan was a celebrated tennis player at one point and had lots of endorsement offers, but he declined all of those as he felt it would corrupt his idea of sports.
Saina follows all the instructions of Rajan. His methods bear fruits and Saina further climbs up the ladder of success. However, soon there arises friction between her and Rajan. What happens next forms the rest of the story.
Review: ‘Saina’ - the Bharat ki beti who is grown up with a racquet in her hand, and not ladles from the kitchen, is a super serve by director Amole Gupte. The film starts off showing a recent victory of Saina Nehwal, which is a very unconventional way to start a film.
Amole Gupte's direction is neat. He keeps the execution simple. His screenplay is effective, and he tries his best to make Saina Nehwal’s biopic tantalizing for the viewers. Some of the scenes have been handled with great panache, and it shows his growth as a storyteller. For instance, Saina’s relationship with her mother, and her association with coach Rajan, especially are two tracks that stand out. Saina’s fallout with the coach is well-executed too. Even the climax match stands out, as it is turned into a nail-biting one.
Amole Gupte's dialogues and additional dialogues by Amitosh Nagpal are simple and conversational. Some of the one-liners of Manav Kaul are sharp. On the flipside, cinematically the film lacks the thrill, though Saina’s journey is impressive.
The first half is mostly about Saina’s victories. It is post-interval when the conflicts take center stage. Though the screenplay dips a bit in the initial part of the second half, it eventually gets interesting again.
Speaking of the performances, Parineeti Chopra pulls off the difficult role with ease. She looks convincing as an expert badminton player, but it is her scenes off the court where she really shines. She seems to have done a lot of homework before getting into the character of Saina. From learning the badminton skills to knowing about the human that the champion is, it was a lot to grasp and implement for Parineeti, and she has done it all with aplomb.
Manav Kaul is natural. As he plays the role of Saina’s coach in the film, he makes you fall in love with his performance.
Ankur Vikal (Coach Jeevan Kumar) comes at a very emotional juncture in the film. He hams in the entry scene but does well later. Meghna Malik gets to play a very crucial character, and she is terrific. Eshan Naqvi is lovely as Saina’s love interest. Subhrajyoti Barat’s (Dr. Harvir Singh Nehwal) character of Saina’s father, has several heart-touching moments, and he plays them naturally.
The actress playing Saina’s sister Dimple Kalshan (Abu Nehwal) gets no scope. Rohan Apte (Rohan) and Sharrman Dey (Damodar) are alright as Saina’s friends. Naishaa Kaur Bhatoye (Little Saina) is decent and sails through with hardly any dialogues. A major section of the first half involves the young Saina, therefore it would not be wrong to say that the script is so strong that it binds you even in the lead star’s absence. And it doesn’t let you feel that there is something missing, or you need a star to fill the screen.
Amaal Malik’s music is good. As for songs, 'Parinda' stands out and uplifts the mood. 'Chal Wahin Chale' is soulful, and ‘Main Hoon Na Tere Saath' is beautiful.
Editing by Deepa Bhatia is smooth, and the pacing of the film is appropriate. Production design by Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty gives the feel of a sports film. The cinematography by Piyush Shah is captivating, however, the badminton scenes could have been shot better, as there is too much focus on the hand movement with the one-sided close-up camera set up. The same camera angles, as they do in the live telecast of Badminton matches would have been better. Red Chillies's VFX is praiseworthy.
Overall, ‘Saina’ gives a great overview of one of the finest sports players in our country. The performance of Parineeti Chopra, the dramatic and emotional moments, and the appropriate pace of the film contribute highly to the film’s appeal. If you are feeling low or depressed, you need to leave everything and go watch Saina. The film will not just make you happy, it will inspire you, move you, and most importantly entertain you. Go for it!