SAINA is the story of the creation of a great badminton player. Saina Nehwal (Parineeti Chopra) is a young girl who has just shifted from Hisar, Haryana to Hyderabad. Her mother Usha Rani (Meghna Malik) has been a district level badminton player in Haryana and she sees the same streak in Saina, who is her younger daughter. She decides to enroll him for badminton training. Despite the center being about 25 kilometers away, Usha makes it clear that she wants Saina to learn the game. At the stadium, a coach says that the batch is full and, therefore, cannot be nominated. But Saina demonstrated her skills and it shocked everyone. Therefore, he is given a chance. Under the guidance from her coach and inspiration from her mother, Saina’s game improves. Usha reassures the coach that she can recruit her for the district level and other such tournaments despite the fact that she is very new. Saina, however, surprises and emerges victorious in these tournaments. Finally, one day, he gets a chance to play for the Indian national team. All is going well until the day before, just before her first match abroad, Usha Rani met with a road accident. He is admitted to the hospital in critical condition. Saina has no choice but to continue her practice. In Prague, she manages to win the game and soon learns that Usha Rani is out of danger. Later, his mentor asked him to get a better coach who is now in another league. So Saina joins the Rajan Academy run by a disciplinary, Sarvadharma Rajan (Manav Kaul). Rajan was a famous tennis player at one time. He had a lot of endorsement offers but rejected them all because he felt that this would corrupt his view of the game. He makes it clear that he expects the same from his students and if they follow his style and coaching, they can become top players. Saina follows all the instructions to T. Rajan. She also changes her diet considerably at Rajan’s insistence. His methods come to fruition and Saina moves on. However, friction soon arises between him and Rajan. What happens next is the rest of the film.
Amol Gupte’s story is inspiring. His screenplay is effective and he tries his best to make his biopic for the audience. Amol Gupte’s dialogues (dialogues other than Amitosh Nagpal’s) are simple and conversational. Some one-lines of human kaul are sharp.
The direction of Amole Gupte is clear. He kept Saina Nehwal’s life simple and focused. He has handled some scenes with illustrations and this shows his growth as a narrator. Saina’s relationship with her mother and her relationship with coach Rajan are particularly two tracks that stand out. On the flipside, although Saina’s journey is impressive, cinematically it lacks thrill.
SAINA has started showing Saina Nehwal’s recent win and this is a very unconventional way to start the film. Excerpts from the flashback are complicated and Usha Rani suggests Saina to pick up a racket and play to win the trust of the coaches. Another scene that brings a smile when Saina discusses her diet with Rajan. Two scenes in the first half are shocking to the viewer – the first, where Usha Rani slaps Saina to come in second place and Usha Devi has a sudden accident. But overall, the first half is mostly about Saina’s win. This is the interval when the collision is actually in the center phase. Saina’s fall with the coach was well-executed. This is turned into a nail bite as the climax matches. The film ends on a lovely note.
Talking about the performances, Parineeti Chopra is in excellent form and she completes the difficult role easily. She looks confident as an expert badminton player, but it is the court scenes where she really shines. Meghna Malik has to play a very important character. Human Kaul is natural. Ishaan Naqvi (Kashyap) is cute as Saina’s love. Subhrajyoti Baaraat (Saina’s father, Dr. Harveer Singh Nehwal) is trustworthy and very good at the scene, in which she brags by getting countless shuttle-cocks for Saina. Ankur Vikal (Coach Jeevan Kumar) comes at a very emotional turn in the film. He does well later but he participates in the entry scene. Naisha Kaur Bhatoy (Choti Saina) is decent and speaks through hardly any dialogue. The actress playing Saina’s sister has no scope. Rohan Apte (Rohan) and Sharman Dey (Damodar) are fine as Saina’s friends.
As for the song, ‘Parinda’ Stands out and elevates the mood. ‘Chal Wahin Chale’ Is kindred ‘Main Hoon Na Tere Saath’ Does not register. Amaal Mallik’s background score is well woven.
Piyush Shah’s cinematography is captivating, especially in badminton scenes. The production design of Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty gives the feel of a sports film. VFX of Red Chillies VFX is commendable. Deepa Bhatia’s editing is smooth and the film’s pacing is appropriate.
Overall, SAINA gives a great overview of one of the finest sports players in our country. The dramatic and emotional moments and the film’s appropriate pace Parineeti Chopra’s performance contribute immensely to the film’s appeal. Go for it