Saina centres on the oversimplified approach of storytelling. Unlike recent biopics, Saina does not comprise the same level of intense scenes, sensational style, lighting, sets and the structure. Saina is a film of victory and lacks numerous imperative aspects, which are required to stitch a perfect narrative. The film opens up with the shuttle and focus gradually shifts to the Saina (Parineeti Chopra) holding the badminton racquet, it is impeccably utilised as a metaphor of a sword.
Voice over takes the story forward from the very first shot of the film, where Saina considers herself as the “Daughter of India”. The interesting part about this voiceover is that, director chose to compare it with the prevalent sports of our nation, cricket. Saina in her voiceover compares the speed of the fastest ball ever bowled with the fastest smash ever. The film guarantees to focus on the social perspective of promoting girls in sports. Few lines around the opportunities and bolster for girls in India, sets the tone in the beginning that one can figure the overall structure and the core of the film.
The film begins with Saina’s 2018 commonwealth win, followed by her press conference, which actually starts the story in flashbacks, narrated by Saina (Parineeti Chopra) herself. One of the foremost critical pillars in Saina’s life is her mother (played by Meghna Malik), who used to play badminton while having Saina in her womb. The film takes us back to Saina’s childhood where we see her journey of becoming a professional player from the very first minute she was born. Manav Kaul performed well as coach but the fashion of depicting the coaches in biopics is the same in Bollywood.
Editing of the film keeps you on the edge of the seat because it barely allows the film’s pace to slow down. But what the film truly lacks is the context of structure and dialogues. Tacky composing and “mechanical plot points” makes you think twice if it is truly a great conflict to introduce. ‘Saina’ has nothing distinctive and extraordinary which one cannot get on Wikipedia. It tries to form an effect but fizzles to set up the core aspects.
Things appear to happen exceptionally rapidly and he misses the minute components and detailing, just like the girls in the background doing random things when young Saina wins a medal or while playing in the camp. Amole Gupte is known for his movies like Stanley ka Dabba (2011), Hawa Hawai (2014), Sniff (2017); and he follows the same style in Saina and lacks cinematically, as there is barely any shot, which is able to introduce a “WOW” moment.
Another thing that really bothers is the continuity of the film. There is a scene in the second half, where Saina blows the candle on her birthday and we see a wide shot afterwards in which the candle is still lit. One interesting element is the “Hoard of Mirrors” in which Saina gets to know numerous girls like her and that is the finest plot point within the entire film. And, it was brilliantly utilised as an allegory to reflect the true and inner side of Saina.
Amole focuses more on the highs and lows of Saina’s life instead of the profound breakdowns and conflicts. Shallow applauses, dialogues, layers and dimensions falls flat to form the aura of Saina as the world number one badminton player. The film covers most of her life in a cliché approach of storytelling and everything appears less demanding for her to attain; it is as if we are observing the highlights, with no thrill at all. The film tries to spur or rouse the youth in an overstate way but falls flat wretchedly.
Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Meghna Malik, Manav Kaul, Eeshan Naqvi, Subhrajyoti Barat
Director: Amole Gupte
Rating: 2.5 stars