Saina is the story of becoming a great badminton player. Saina Nehwal (Parineeti Chopra) is a young girl who has just shifted from Hisar, Haryana to Hyderabad. His mother Usha Rani (Meghna Malik) has been a district level badminton player in Haryana and she sees the same rhythm in Saina, who is her younger daughter. She decides to enroll him for badminton training. Despite the center being around 25 kms away, Usha clarifies that she wants Saina to learn the sport. At the stadium, a coach says that the batch is full and hence, cannot be nominated. But Saina showed her talent and surprised everyone. So he is given a chance. With the guidance of her coach and the inspiration of her mother, Saina’s game improves. Usha convinces the coach to enlist her for the district level and other such tournaments, despite the fact that she is very new. Saina, however, surprises in these tournaments and emerges victorious. Finally, one day, he gets a chance to play for the Indian national team. All is going well till one day, just before her first match abroad, Usha Rani meets with a road accident. He is hospitalized in serious condition. Saina has no option but to continue practicing. In Prague, she manages to win the game and soon learns that Usha Rani is out of danger. Later, his mentor tells him to get a better coach while he is in another league. So Saina joins the Rajan Academy run by Sarvadhaman Rajan (Manav Kaul), a disciplinarian. Rajan was once a famous tennis player. He had a lot of advertising offers but he rejected them all because he felt it 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 of Rajan. She also drastically changes her diet on Rajan’s insistence. His ways flourish and Saina moves on. However, soon a rift develops between her and Rajan. What happens next becomes the rest of the film.
Amol Gupte’s story is inspiring. His script is impressive and he tries his best to make his biopic appealing to the audience. Amol Gupte’s dialogues (additional dialogues by Amitosh Nagpal) are simple and conversational. Some of Manav Kaul’s one-liners are sharp.
Amol Gupte’s direction is neat. He keeps the execution simple and focuses on Saina Nehwal’s life. He has handled some of the scenes with panache and it shows his growth as a storyteller. Saina’s relationship with her mother and her association with coach Rajan are two tracks in particular that stand out. On the other hand, Saina’s journey is impressive but cinematically it lacks adventure.
Saina started showing Saina Nehwal’s recent victories and it is a very unconventional way to start a film. The flashback portions are engaging and the scene where Usha suggests Rani Saina to lie down and take a racket and start playing to win the trust of the coaches, sets the mood of the film. Another scene that brings smiles is when Saina discusses her diet with Rajan. Two scenes in the first half leave the audience stunned – the first, where Usha Rani slaps Saina for coming second, and Usha Devi’s sudden accident. But overall the first half is mostly for Saina to win. It is the post-hiatus time when conflicts really take center stage. Saina’s displeasure with the coach is well executed. The climax match stands out because it has turned into a nail-biter. The film ends on a lovely note.
Talking about the performance, Parineeti Chopra is in superb form and she manages the toughest roles with ease. She looks confident as a specialist badminton player, but off the court her visuals really shine. Meghna Malik gets to play a very important character. Human nature is natural. Ishaan Naqvi (Kashyap) is cute as Saina’s girlfriend. Subhrajyoti Baraat (Saina’s father, Dr. Harveer Singh Nehwal) is dependable and very good in the scene in which he brags after getting innumerable shuttle-cocks for Saina. Ankur Vikal (Coach Jeevan Kumar) comes at a very emotional juncture in the film. He does well after but he hams in the entry scene. Naisha Kaur Bhatoye (Chhote Saina) is decent and hardly moves with any dialogue. The actress who plays Saina’s sister doesn’t get any scope. Rohan Apte (Rohan) and Sherman Dey (Damodar) are fine as Saina’s friends.
As far as songs are concerned, ‘Parinda’ Stands out and elevates the mood. ‘Chal Wahin Chale’ is emotional. ‘Main Hoon Na Tere Saath’ does not register. Amaal Malik’s background score is well woven.
Piyush Shah’s cinematography is captivating, especially in the badminton scenes. Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty’s production design gives the feel of a sports film. The VFX of Red Chillies VFX is commendable. Deepa Bhatia’s editing is effortless and the pace of the film is appropriate.
Overall, Saina gives information about one of the finest sportspersons of our country. Parineeti Chopra’s performance, dramatic and emotional moments and the proper pace of the film contribute immensely to the appeal of the film. Go for it