Saina movie review: Parineeti Chopra serves, drops and smashes as badminton champ

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Saina movie solid: Parineeti Chopra, Manav Kaul, Meghna Malik, Eshan Naqvi, Rohan Apte, Subrajyoti Virat, Ankur Vikal, Sharrman Dey, Sameer Bassi
Saina movie director: Amol Gupte
Saina movie ranking: 3 stars

First issues first: Parineeti Chopra nails the physique language of a high flight badminton participant in ‘Saina’, Amol Gupte’s admiring biopic. Through her attacking, elegant recreation, Saina Nehwal put Indian ladies shuttlers on the worldwide map in a fiercely aggressive sport, and she stays the primary and solely feminine participant to have received so many championships. As Parineeti serves, drops and smashes, the motion on court docket is wholly plausible, and helps us get previous the wobbly bits of the movie.

One of the double-edged benefits of constructing a biopic on a sportsperson who remains to be enjoying the sport, is that every part is documented. Accuracy can be lauded; issues which seem fudged can be discovered. Why, for instance, does Pullela Gopichand, Nehwal’s coach, right here performed by Manav Kaul, not given his actual title? Why is he referred to as, as a substitute, Rajan? Why is her rival within the essential 2015 event in Lucknow, which anointed her World No 1, not referred to as Carolina Marin? These are puzzling, and don’t slot in a movie that in any other case seems scrupulously based mostly on analysis.

A good portion of the start is dedicated to Saina as a little bit woman, being drummed into form by her mom Usha Rani (Meghna Malik, fierce, feisty and plausible), herself a badminton participant. Buttered aloo parathas and two litres of milk are stuffed each day into the little woman (Naisha Kaur Bhatoye; superb) who proves she has each expertise and pace, and the need to win. It is Rajan who will get her onto a champion’s heavy-on-protein, light-on-carbs eating regimen, and teaches her to make use of her thoughts as nicely as her limbs.

A real badminton participant is sort of a ballet dancer, and the most effective gamers on the earth mix each grace and energy. That transition is likely one of the most partaking components of the movie, and Kaul does an awesome job of displaying his mentee the best way: he focuses solely on focus, he says in a speech bordering on the pedantic; anything, there’s the door. Kaul seems to be the half, however isn’t proven on court docket. Why? Not seeing a participant of Gopichand’s calibre in motion, even when he’s named Rajan, is a serious miss.

In real-life, there was a much-storied break between Gopichand and Saina, which noticed her transfer from Hyderabad to Bangalore, into the arms of one other coach (Ankur Vakil, sprightly in a small half). In the movie, we’re advised that it was as a result of she was getting distracted by a string of profitable endorsements. We additionally see her getting ‘distracted’ by the candy consideration fellow high-quality participant Parupalli Kashyap (Eshan Naqvi) pays her. What little we see of the connection is formed by the truth that they play nicely collectively, sharing the court docket and the sofa in a workman like method. Just a little extra between the 2, and even the opposite two gamers Rohan (Rohan Apte) and Damodar (Sharman Dey), the group which grows into maturity and fixed friendship after spending years in rigorous coaching, would have given us a extra rounded movie.

But for all these little issues, together with an preliminary clunky line about being a patriotic ‘Bharat ki beti’, a post-interval bit which threatens to sag, one ‘inspiring’ track, an excessive amount of swelling background music (how else is a Bollywood movie to create drama?) as nicely as a little bit an excessive amount of rah rah surrounding the topic (the time when the targets of Bollywood biopics will be proven warts and all remains to be a good distance off), ‘Saina’ manages to be a correct sports activities movie, dedicated to the stretches which present the unstinting, relentless working up of blood, sweat and tears that go into the making of a winner, and the sacrifices these winners should make to remain on high. And as soon as she settles into it, leaving apart the very occasional mannerism, Parineeti offers us a superb, strong Saina: when she raises her racket after a hard-fought win, you cheer.

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