Director: Amole Gupte
Starring: Parineeti Chopra, Manav Kaul, Meghna Malik, Eshan Naqvi, Rohan Apte, Subrajyoti Virat, Ankur Vikal
Written by: Amole Gupte, Amitosh Nagpal
SAINA is the story of legendary Indian Badminton player Saina Nehwal. Saina (Parineeti Chopra) is a young girl who has just shifted from Hisar, Haryana to Hyderabad. The story from here follows the story of how she became the champion that she is. Her mother Usha Rani (Meghna Malik) was a district level badminton player in Haryana and sees the same spark in her daughter. She enrolls her in an academy 25 kms away from their home. They take her in despite the batch being full because she impresses them with her skills. Under the guidance of her coach and motivation from mother, her game improves and she wins several district level and state level tournaments. Soon, she gets a chance to play for the Indian team. All seems to be going well till one day she learns Usha has met with an accident and is critical. She still continues with her practice and manages to win the game, where she learns that her mother is out of danger. Post that, her mentor asks her to change the coach as she is on a different level. Saina hence joins Rajan Academy, run by a disciplinarian, Sarvadhamaan Rajan (Manav Kaul). He is as strict and disciplined as they come. Saina follows his instructions to the T. His methods bear fruits and she becomes an even better player. But soon there arises problems between them. What happens next, forms the rest of the film.
Amole Gupte’s story is quite simple. So is his storytelling. A lot of biographies play it safe and don’t show all the skeletons in the closet per say. This film is no different and follows the template to the T. Hence the story didn’t interest the way it does because such films are now been there done that and seen that. The known ups and downs of Saina’s are highlighted in the film and the film is neither over patronizing nor over patriotic. One wonders, the significance of the film being made, if certain things which aren’t known to the public are barely even mentioned.
Technically, the film is good. Piyush Shah’s cinematography is great and he captures the badminton scenes especially well. Editing by Deepa Bhatia is sans complaint. The writing is simple and no foot is put wrong, however it has a lot of scope for much better content. The costume design and the production design seems realistic. Music isn’t so praiseworthy in the film. It could have been better used as well or omitted completely.
Performances wise the film is good. Parineeti Chopra is in great form and she gives her best in this film as well. She gives a convincing performance. Meghna Malik plays a crucial role with ease. Manav Kaul is dependable. Eshan Naqvi (Kashyap) is good. Subhrajyoti Barat (Saina’s father, Dr. Harvir Singh Nehwal) is fine. Ankur Vikal (Coach Jeevan Kumar) does well. Rest of the cast offers able performance.
Amole Gupte’s direction is neat. He plays it safe and delivers a simple film with a simplistic execution.