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Movie Review | Saina: Smashingly Performed, Emotional & Uplifting

Parineeti Chopra gets it all right, gives a winningly smashing portrayal of Saina Nehwal in one of her most powerful performances till date.

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Saina movie review is here. The Indian Hindi-language biographical sports film ‘Saina’ is 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. Based on the life of Indian Badminton champion Saina Nehwal – the former world No.1, the movie stars Parineeti Chopra in the titular role. Saina was initially set to release in September 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Saina is now scheduled to have a theatrical release on 26 March 2021.

Saina Movie Review

Think of badminton and what image comes into the minds of an average Indian who is a sports enthusiast. Saina Nehwal – the former world no. 1, who has over 24 international titles that includes eleven Super series titles to her credit. The only female player from India to achieve this feat. Those who are less aware about the sport and the game of badminton get a flashing image of Jeetendra (the jumping jack in those famous white pants) during the 1970’s dancing with Leena Chandavarkar in the song dhal gaya din ho gayi shaam from T R Ramanna’s 1970’s classic Humjoli.

Saina by Amole Gupte showcases the life of the Indian sports legend Saina Nehwal – the girl who started playing at the age of eight and became an inspiration for the world, every woman and human in general by fighting all odds in an emotionally empowering biopic that sees Parineeti Chopra delivering a smashing performance to deliver a winner.

The Saina Story

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Born in Hisar (Haryana girl again) Saina Nehwal the daughter of Harvir Singh Nehwal a PhD in agricultural science (a badminton player as well) and Usha Rani Nehwal – a housewife and a former state level champion, Saina who had badminton in her genes took up formal training at the age of eight. The biopic traces her journey from her initial training days to the world no. 1 triumph.

Amole Gupte does simplify the journey for a better cinematic effect but ensures that the overwhelming story of triumph of Saina Nehwal doesn,t fall into the family melodramatic trap. The emotional undercurrents are there but the striking power of determination sweeps you in that powerful scene when Saina has to leave for an international competition while her mother is fighting between life and death. This particular scene is enough for your ticket to Saina. It’s just terrific.

Not to forget the bond Saina shares with her mother and father both the pillars of her strength.

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Amol delicately handles the family emotions and the motivational thrills as ordered by a convincing and uplifting biography to a satisfying effect.

Saina is not just a story of an Indian woman’s incredible triumph in badminton, it’s a story of a mother’s belief in her daughter – the sheer passion to win, the innate strength of an Indian woman, the things that make a champion and a story that definitely needs to be told. The story of mothers who mould their daughters into steel make them fighters.

Like any other sports biopic Amole Gupte’s Saina does take that familiar route – underdog becoming champions and sadly at vital stages especially during the couple of international matches, the opponent is not properly established, making the journey look a bit easy for a while.

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But Saina works as its more than just a woman winning a championship. It’s an overwhelming story of determination, guts and glory. It celebrates victory, family values, makes us understand the importance of winning and what discipline does to an individual and who is a true sports person. The intoxication of success and its after effects.

Performances

Parineeti Chopra gets it all right and gives a winningly smashing portrayal of Saina Nehwal in one of her most powerful performances till date.

Manav Kaul as her coach Rajan (Pullela Gopichand) is fantastic. Meghna Malik as Usha Rani Nehwal – the determined mother is fabulous. Shubhrajyoti Barat as Harvir Singh Nehwal Saina’s father is very good.

Eshan Naqvi as Parupalli Kashyap makes an impression. Rohan Apte and Sharrman Deyare are fine. Strangely Ankur Vikal as Jeevan Kumar was out of sync.

A nicely crafted movie where cameraman Piyush Shah lets us jog through the courts. Editing by Deepa Bhatia is fine. Special mention for Amaal Malik’s soothing and uplifting score is a must. I am at present in love with ‘Chal Wahin Chalein’ soulfully sung by Shreya Ghoshal and beautifully penned by Manoj Muntashir. Amaal Malik’s energetic ‘Parinda’ also hits the right notes.

Final words

Saina is not the best biopic in the world. It’s flawed like we all humans are. But the movie left an overwhelming impression of empowerment, joy and made me emotional. In a country where cricket is worshipped, cricketers are God, a girl from Haryana (the place that unfortunately has a bad name for its chauvinist mindset and treatment towards women/girl child) becomes the World No. 1, by holding that racket like a talwar (sword). Saina made me believe that Badminton in India is not just dhal gaya din tuk, ho gayi shaam tuk.. its bahut kuch. An extra for Parineeti Chopra, the bonding between mother and daughter, that song ‘Chal Wahin Chalein’ and its sheer woman power.

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