We are at another weekend and IPL is in full swing. Amidst the gloom, it is the IPL and more importantly cricket that is providing the much needed respite to all. Cricket is a sport that has caught the imagination of people in the subcontinent that no other sport has done. But one of the sports that has gained popularity over the years is Badminton. It was for years where despite legends like Prakash Padukone and Gopichand winning in the sport, it was still finding its feet probably due to the lack of a female icon which would encourage more and more girls to take this sport as a profession. This until the emergence of the Youth Icon Saina Nehwal who was arguably the best player produced by India in years. And since then, there is no looking back. And so finally I got a chance to witness the biopic of Saina Nehwal titled Saina on Amazon Prime. I must say the movie was heavily trolled because of its insipid trailer. Is the movie better and inspiring that its trailer, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Saina follows the story of the ace badminton player Saina Nehwal in a fixed template of a biopic. So we witness her struggle to the top, her rise, fall and eventual rise again. But having said that the story is indeed heartfelt and deserves more attention and positively so than the trolls that seemed to destroy it. The screenplay is such that is pays a simple ode to the ace player. The melodrama is less which is a good thing. The usual case with biopics is that perhaps it tries too hard to accentuate the personality and achievements of the main protagonist. But here, although Saina is special, she is portrayed as your girl next door which is great. The screenplay is breezy here with little to no over the top moments. And to add to that there are several heartfelt moments featuring Saina’s family too that will gently tug the strings of your heart. On the downside, you will not get a sense of inspiration of picking up your racquet and representing your country, maybe an additional layer of thrill and a bit of jingoism would not have hurt.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are pretty well written. A few dialogues in the trailer did stick out like a sore thumb but when you watch it in the context of the film, they make more sense. The music is alright but needed to be better and inspiring, the BGM is likewise too. One thing that was a disappointment was the editing during the matches. There were several cuts as compared to one long shot featuring the players playing and that may well have been to overcompensate for the skills of the main lead. You can clearly see the difference when the Young Saina smashes and when Parineeti smashes. Director Amole Gupte has done a pretty decent job here, he may have had to constantly deal with delays to the main lead Shraddha Kapoor getting replaced to finding a new lead, but at the end of it, his direction is subtle and creditable.
Shubhrajyoti Barat as Harvir Singh, Saina father is fabulous and very heartwarming. Meghna Malik as Uma, Saina’s mother is simply brilliant. She is a fine actress and hope to watch more of her in the future. Eshan Naqvi as Kashyap is earnest. Manav Kaul as Rajan is once again outstanding. His demeanor and mannerisms standout extremely well in a role that doesn’t require him to express much. And dare I say this is the year of Parineeti Chopra. I had written in my review of The Girl On The Train that she is back, well here she proves that that wasn’t a flash in the pan. She is a revelation and latches on to the character brilliantly even with her accent. Much had been said about the mole on her face(which actually could have been done without) and her acting skills in the trailer but she comes out on top in a towering act. The one who had cut the trailer should really be held up as he had shown Parineeti in parts where she was perhaps the weakest in the film. But when you watch the film as a whole, Parineeti is a standout and delivers a memorable performance.
Saina is a heartfelt ode to a great sportperson backed by outstanding performances that deserves to be watched by all. This is another film that was mercilessly hit by the trolls and I found that to be problematic and unfair. Saina available on Amazon Prime.