Writer-Director Amole Gupte gives you a biopic that fills you with pride and makes you respect the sportswoman even more
The ingredients of a biopic are more or less the same. Saina doesn’t give you something too extraordinary or totally novel on that front. But Saina does one thing really well- it never falters in those points where some other biopics which are loosely made do. Parineeti Chopra must thank her stars (not taking away from her the acting abilities) that this film was dropped in her lap after Shraddha Kapoor backed out. It’s a film that hits you on many fronts and you are only left impressed, by the filmmaking and also the real person.
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The film traces the life journey of badminton player Saina Nehwal (Parineeti Chopra).
It’s a fantastic script by Gupte. Indeed. What draws your attention the most is the fact that the film doesn’t talk only about the sport. Nehwal’s dynamics with the important people in her life- right from her parents to her coaches to P Kashyap, everything comes out beautifully along side the badminton journey. Mind you, fusing all this with the main track isn’t easy. This remains present even in the climax sequence where all thes people appear yet again, making you realise that a great person never achieves greatness on his/her own.
Right from the initial bit when Nehwal’s mother pushes her limits to her father being on the softer side, different types of coaches and how her equation with them is, you commend how effortlessly the film sails. The conflicts come at appropriate junctures enabling the narrative to move ahead without hiccups. The sweet love story is also present, from the point when the voice over mentions ‘Kashyap’ the first time.
The elements are too many, talking of Nehwal’s skill as a player and her personal life running parallel. But never does the film seem to have too much. You get a fair share of everything, also because it’s timed well. The incidents come, stay and go and you move ahead quickly.
Her world ranking, her tournaments, her winning titles, her defeats- are all showcased satisfactorily. Her conflict with her coach Gopichand (here: Rajan) (Manav Kaul) has been given much prominence in the narrative. Good thing. Adds up to the much needed drama. Yes, not just the conflict, his role in shaping her has also been shown adequately.
The film falls short in imparting a lesson or instilling motivation. Saina’s hard work particularly in the skill of the game, the perseverance, the determination- should have been brought out with more vibrance and strength. So what is likeable in the early part of the film, after the film, you feel there should have been more impetus on inner journey.
Parineeti Chopra shines remarkably. She proves her mettle as an actor. Every scene belongs to her. And she makes you believe that she is indeed the fitting choice for the role. Brilliant portrayal. Her persona, the way she walks or speaks is all wonderful.
Manav Kaul has maintained a tough stance all through. He is so effortless as an actor that you get lost in him so much that you forget he’s acting.
Meghna Malik deserves all the awards and appreciation for this supporting role. The manner in which he presses her daughter, how she gets euphoric just at her admission into an academy, how she gets frustrated when she loses and slaps her- have all been done splendidly. A master act. Shubhrajyoti Barat also has his moments. His role and performance grows as the film progresses. He brings in relief in the drama.
Eshan Naqvi has a charming screen presence. His smile does most of the job for him. You like him. It’s a role that provides layers and substance to the plot.
Ankur Vikal has a smaller role but he performs ably. He embraces that role and makes it his own.
Music by Amaal Malik suits the narrative. The album is intelligently created and the songs fully justify the feel of the film. It’s a big highlight of the film, wherein the songs are both emotional and powerful, as the mood be. Chal Vahin Chalein by Shreya Ghoshal is super pleasing. His background score is full of adrenaline, indeed. You feel the tough journey of Saina Nehwal because of impactful score.
Cinematography by Piyush Shah is to appreciate to no bounds, especially during the badminton matches sequences. The slow motions or the closeups accentuate the character and allows you to get into the head of the player. Production design by Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty is rich. Although there are many indoor spaces, the framing allows you to explore the spaces well.
Editing by Deepa Bhatia is sharp, crisp, and tight. You watch the film and realise how well it has been edited in a way of how one thing smoothly leads to another. No dull moment anywhere in the film. The enjoyment that you get watching the film comes only through good work on the editing table.
It’s a very well made film. Just how a biopic should be. Only thing- a little deeper delving into the preparation part could have rendered more grit.