Saina Movie Review: Parineeti Chopra starrer inspires with the right amount of drama and emotions despite its slow pace
Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Sujay Jairaj and Rashesh Shah
Parineeti Chopra, Manav Kaul, Meghna Malik, Eshan Naqvi
Bollywood Bubble Rating
Sports drama is NOT new to us but what makes Saina stand out is that its made with all hearts. With Saina starring Parineeti Chopra, director Amole Gupte tries to give the sportswoman’s journey an individualistic approach, with its heart in the right place. The film is the rightful ode to the magnificent life of badminton champion Saina Nehwal. Director Amole Gupte traces the journey of Saina Nehwal, from starting as a rookie player at a university in Hyderabad to being World No 1. The entire focus is on her undying spirit to bounce back, fighting against odds, injuries, sacrificing her relationship, battling judgments, and rising back each time.
Saina takes us to Nehwal’s childhood which was defined by her mother’s dream of seeing her become World No 1. Saina’s mother, played by Meghna Malik, is ambitious and a district-level former badminton player herself, but her dreams remained unfulfilled. She rekindles her love for the sport by being the Force behind the sportswoman’s illustrious career. Interestingly, she dreamt this for Saina even before she was born. We see her playing badminton while in her third trimester and that in itself sets the pace for an unknown trajectory for the little girl whose life could be easily summed up in three lines, ‘Wake Up. Badminton. Sleep. Repeat’.
While her mother was pretty critical of Saina, her father was her calm place, someone who silently pushed her to do better. Saina’s father was the calm to her mother’s storm, literally. Amole Gupte briefly flirts with her personal life, focusing majorly on her journey to becoming World No 1, we get a few glimpses here and there about her childhood love story with Parupalli Kashyap. Parineeti Chopra makes Saina her own and gets into the role seamlessly, with Amaal Malik music evoking the right emotions throughout.
What works for Saina:
Parineeti Chopra plays Saina convincingly. If we ignore the inconsistency of her mole on her face, Parineeti has worked upon picking up Saina’s body language and mannerisms. The actress is fire on the badminton court and seemed to have worked hard on getting the sport right. Parineeti is really on a roll and Saina will only make you root for the actress more. Amole stays true to his intent behind the story, to trace the rise and fall of a star. What worked for me is that the triumph and fall and further rise of the star have been traced well on screen, without overtly exaggerating things. Amole has dealt with the ‘rise of the star’ aspect of the story with realism and a dash of drama.
The background score for Saina blends well with the story. Meghna Malik as Usha Nehwal is terrific. She is effortless as a Jatt woman who has big dreams for her daughter. Manav Kaul too plays his role well, but he hardly has much to dabble with. The supporting cast plays their part to the T.
What could have been better?
The major drawback of the movie is that Amole does not get into the nitty-gritty of Saina’s personality. We are made to meet Saina Nehwal- the badminton star but let’s admit, what we wanted to see is the real Saina, her personality outside court, her inter-personal relationships with friends and family, and most importantly, her love angle with Kashyap. We wished Gupte would have dabbled with all of these emotions giving us an intimate look into Saina’s life. Apart from this, the dialogues I felt were a little OTT. While it works the drama (for some), I found it too cliched. For example, ‘yeh talwar pakad li hai.’ That kind of put me off in the beginning. The pace of the movie was a little slower than needed but the intriguing screenplay did keep you engaged.
The climax is well shot and executed and evokes the right kind of emotions from you. You root for Saina throughout. Watch the film to see Parineeti Chopra ‘maar doongi’ figurately and literally.