Movie Name: Saina
Directed by: Amole Gupte
Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Sujay Jairaj, Rashesh Shah
Starring: Parineeti Chopra, Manav Kaul, Meghna Malik, Subhrajyoti Barat, Ankur Vikal
Genre: Family, Sport, Drama, Biography
Release Date: 26 March, 2021
Running Time: 135 Minutes
Saina is an upcoming Indian Hindi-language biographical sports film directed by Amole Gupte and produced by Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Sujay Jairaj and Rashesh Shah under the banner of T-Series and Front Foot Pictures. The film is based on the life of Badminton player Saina Nehwal. It stars Parineeti Chopra who will play the titular role as Saina Nehwal. The film was initially set to release in September 2020, but was postponed due to the Chinese Virus COVID-19 pandemic in India. It is now scheduled to have a theatrical release on 26 March 2021.
Saina Nehwal revealing the details of the film, on her Twitter account announced the film on 26 April 2017. Earlier, Shraddha Kapoor was signed to play Nehwal’s role, and she even started filming in September 2018 after training, but later she opted out of the film due to health issues. On 15 March 2019, it was confirmed by T-Series head honcho Bhushan Kumar that Parineeti Chopra will be playing the role of Nehwal. In a statement they said, “Due to circumstances beyond her control, the actress kept giving other films priority over the national badminton champion’s biopic, so the makers have decided to go ahead with Chopra.”
In June, Manav Kaul was finalized to play the role of Pullela Gopichand who is Nehwal’s coach.
From mid June, Chopra is training herself in playing badminton and practicing the stances of Nehwal. As many as 12 courts were recreated to represent international venues where Sania Nehwal has played.
The soundtrack is composed by Amaal Malik and the lyrics are written by Kunaal Vermaa and Manoj Muntashir.
Saina Movie Trailer:
Saina Movie Review:
Parineeti Chopra gives us a good, solid Saina Nehwal. When she raises her racket after a hard-fought win, you cheer.
A small-town girl, whose parents literally sought loans to buy shuttlecocks to make their daughter play badminton, goes ahead to become the world number one champion – is literally the quintessential underdog rags to riches story, trapped with all the commercial elements to bring out emotions from the audience. As director Amole Gupte said in one of his interviews, “Saina Nehwal’s story is a thaali of emotions” and it’s difficult to go wrong when someone’s life has the graph of rise, fall and redemption.
The director manages to narrate the 30 years of Saina Nehwal in a short span of 2 hour and 14 minutes, encapsulating all the important events of her life, editing off the ones that didn’t warrant attention. More than revolving around the sport, it’s a humane story that speaks about the hardships faced and the sacrifices made in the journey of becoming world number one. One can relate to Saina, and cheer for her when she’s at her peak, and feel bad, when she reaches the bottom.
An incident in the second half is a mirror image of how the social media environment has corrupted the world to a certain extent with people being overcritical and judgmental towards the life of a public figure and makes us realize how eager some are to write off the ones, who are at their peak. Though predictable, the premise is relatable, and backed up with a fast-paced narrative which keeps us hooked on the screen through the runtime. The essence of tale is not lost despite a restrained run time and full marks to the editors, Nidhi Raawat and Divyajot Singh, for being sharp on the edit table.
The background score by Amaal Mallik lifts the impact of training sequences and the dramatic points of the film, whereas the music too gels well with the narrative, without acting as a roadblock. The inspirational track, Main Parinda is used well all through at the right elevation moments. The VFX and Colour by Red Chillies is neat and there is a certain graphical template used in the second half to highlight the winning achievements of Saina Nehwal, and that comes across as quite a cool visual on the screen with use of bright golden colour template to highlight wins and the dark palette in the visuals for the losses.
Saina however is far off from being a flawless film. Despite a tight runtime, there’s a sequence in the second half, around the downfall of Saina, that seems stretched. Things however pick up in the finale with an exciting match between India and Spain. The intent of certain actions that Manav Kaul’s character takes in the second half isn’t well established, and one is confused taking his behavior towards the protagonist later in the film. There are too many close-up shots, and the actors are not able to hold onto the camera in close up for prolonged period. The prosthetics for Saina’s character could have been better, whereas a little subtle approach to the mannerisms of mother’s character was needed as compared to the slight loud treatment. While the emotional scenes and downfall is well shot, some might feel that the journey of her climbing up the ladder in the first half has been rather rushed through. The badminton matches also could have been shot better, as there is too much of focus on the hand movement with one-sided close-up camera set up, rather than giving it a holistic real time match approach with a spider camera. Gupte could have adapted the same camera angles, as they do in the live telecast of Badminton matches. Thankfully, the personal story is inspiring enough for one to ignore the sporting side of Saina.
Talking of performances, Parineeti Chopra does well to slip into the titular role. The efforts she has put in to prep for the character are visible, and despite being inconsistent with diction and dialogue delivery at a certain place, all in all, she has delivered an earnest performance. Manav Kaul as her badminton coach manages to leave a mark, though his character could have been written better. Eshan Naqvi and Meghna Malik do justice to their respective character of a friend turned husband and father, whereas Meghna Malik’s portrayal of mother, Usha Rani Nehwal, is on the louder side, particularly in the initial scenes of the film. The rest of ensemble do their part well.
Overall, it’s an ace for Amole Gupte with this biopic, however, it could have been a clean sweep had he taken care of some flaws by focusing a little better on the character build up and the badminton matches. The team does justice to the achievements and legacy of Saina Nehwal with well-intentioned biopic. Saina is a winner, on and off the court.
Saina Movie Songs:
Song Title: Parinda
Lyrics: Manoj Muntashir
Singer(s): Amaal Mallik
Song Title: Chal Wahin Chalein
Lyrics: Manoj Muntashir
Singer(s): Shreya Ghoshal
Song Title: Main Hoon Na Tere Saath
Lyrics: Kunaal Vermaa
Singer(s): Armaan Malik