Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Manav Kaul
Director - Amole Gupte
Release date - 26 March, 2021
‘Saina’ directed by Amole Gupte is based on Badminton player Saina Nehwal’s life. Parineeti Chopra plays the main lead in this film. Is this biographical sports drama worth a watch?
Saina Nehwal, an eight-year-old from Hisar, Haryana became the poster girl of badminton in India. Saina, was not only the first female player to become the World no 1 but she has won over 24 international titles including a bronze Olympic medal.
This film attempts to explore her extraordinary journey…
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Parineeti as Sania manages to get the physicality right for the role. Also, her restlessness to achieve her milestones is quite palpable. What the script doesn’t give her is the ability to explore the struggle within - the audience doesn’t get to experience the emotions behind her sweat and tears. To actually be able to feel disappointed or overwhelmed by her achievements or her loss.
While the film looks at quite a few milestones in Saina’s life - her relationship with her coach and mentor Rajan, played by Manav Kaul is a significant part of the story. In one of his first meetings with Saina, Rajan tells her that the game is not just about powering through a match, it is also about tactical play. This movie tries to power through the storytelling but it doesn’t delve into the details of the game.
A sports film feels complete to me, when it is not just focussing on the player but also, giving me an insight to what the game is like. In a film like ‘Dangal’ or ‘Chak De India’ even a novice learnt a thing or two about the sport but ‘Saina’ fails to do that.
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The filmmakers focus on the protagonist and to a certain extent on the disciplined regime her mentor makes her follow. Manav Kaul is compelling as the no-nonsense coach but his involvement in her achievements isn’t brought out effectively. Also, for the other supporting characters in the film, especially her husband Kashyap, their parts aren’t given the detail they deserve. They are relegated to the background and aren’t projected as the individuals that they are.
Saina is a role model but is the portrayal as powerful? Will this film make you want to encourage your daughter or sister or niece to take up badminton seriously? I think that’s where the gap lies in the storytelling - Saina’s story is inspiring but the film isn’t as passionate. It is 3 stars from me for this one.
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