Director: Amole Gupte
Writers: Amole Gupte, Amitosh Nagpal
Editor: Deepa Bhatia
Cinematography: Piyush Shah
Cast: Parineeti Chopra, Meghna Malik, Manav Kaul, Eeshan Naqvi, Subhrajyoti Barat

Saina is a sports activities biopic in nursery rhyme. The script – a human life – is simplified to the purpose of it being sung to children in a classroom: Little Saina sat on the (China) Wall, previous Saina had an amazing fall, all of Saina’s coaches and all of Saina’s power, managed to place Saina collectively once more. Given director Amole Gupte’s penchant for kids’s tales (Stanley Ka Dabba, Sniff, Hawa Hawai), the simplistic tone is hardly shocking. But the dearth of grownup course – each actually and cinematically – is alarming. When a 9-year-old Saina Nehwal (who does a much better job of resembling her real-life counterpart) loses a remaining and beams “Look Ma, silver medal!”, she is promptly slapped by her Haryanvi-in-Hyderabad mom. No if, no however, solely Jatt. What’s fascinating is that this occurs on the rostrum, with two different women within the background who haven’t been advised what to do – so the poor issues simply stand awkwardly, questioning the place to look and how one can transfer. Ditto for the boys and coaches at Saina’s early apply classes in Hyderabad’s Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy: the digital camera is on Saina, however the others are simply filling house and smiling passively on the air. Also ditto for Saina’s elder sister, who speaks all of two.5 phrases within the movie, and exists solely to juxtapose mute mediocrity towards her sibling’s spunk.

Like earlier Bollywood odes to iconic-but-active Indian athletes within the twilight of their careers, Saina too has the emotional complexity of a colouring e-book. It opens with Saina Nehwal profitable the 2018 Commonwealth Gold medal as an underdog, after which reminiscing about her two-decade-long badminton journey at a press convention (?). The media after all asks her the form of questions that I assume most filmmakers ask their well-known topics in lieu of script analysis: “How does it feel?” “How are you like this?” “What does it take?” “Why are you so strong?” Once her narration begins, the identical previous sports-movie templates resurface. Little lady is taken to the teaching camp, she is scoffed at, she wows the male coaches, mom cheers. When all goes properly, mom goes into coma, lady vents her grief in a global match. Little pre-teen lady morphs into a giant teen lady mid-match, wins the nationals, meets a stern new coach, and stars in a weight-loss track. She wins first large match, places India on the map, and turns into a hero. When endorsement affords pour in and younger love blossoms, tensions come up between Dronacharya and Arjun. Conflict: she loses focus, fractures her ankle, will get impressed by the youngsters who idolise her (one among them is of course named Saina), charts a comeback to turn into India’s first World No. 1 with a brand new coach. Chapter closed. Turn the web page.

I had my doubts about Parineeti Chopra as Saina Nehwal, and the movie merely confirms them ten instances over. Her accent adjustments in sync along with her feelings (dramatic = regular/Bollywood, decided = Haryanvi/Dangal), and her coaching for the movie doesn’t translate to a lived-in, lithe physicality on court docket. Her face is fatally readable. While watching her profitable shot land contained in the strains, she eyes the shuttlecock as if it have been a serial killer: the shock of victory doesn’t look very completely different from the shock of shedding a cherished one. Equally uncomfortable is Meghna Malik as Saina’s mom, who appears to have interpreted her position as that of a ghost whisperer: the large eyes and apparent directions appear to be geared toward invisible infants quite than flesh-and-blood adults. The transient for Manav Kaul as a Pullela Gopichand stand-in reads “Shah Rukh Khan in Chak De! India,” which kind of displays the spinoff type of each cool coach in Hindi cinema since.

Did I be taught something new about Saina Nehwal that Wikipedia couldn’t cowl? No. Did I be taught why Saina grew to become a pathbreaker for skilled ladies’s sport in a rustic obsessive about male superstars? No. Did I perceive why the on-court teaching she receives options phrases like “Life is a cucumber, enjoy it!”? No. Do her journey’s bullet factors make clear the pushed lady behind the persona? No. Does the movie have the braveness to not be superficial and reverential concerning the cut up between Saina and coach Gopichand? No. Is boyfriend-turned-husband and fellow badminton participant Parupalli Kashyap something greater than a cheerleader who saves her title as “Saina World no. 1” on his Nokia cellphone? No. Is there a authentic clarification for her trademark face mole magically increasing in response to the significance of the match? No. Does the trajectory and velocity of a smash benefit a smash in return? No.

Is there a motive the stadium of the Syed Modi International remaining within the climax resembles a dance actuality present viewers? No. Is there a legitimate motive the trademark screams of Spanish participant Carolina Marin are merely copy+pasted into every level as an alternative of various its volumes in response to the depth of the sport? No. Will we come out of the theatre with a renewed understanding of the connection between champions and fortitude? No. Are we pleased with Saina Nehwal? Yes. And maybe that’s the one reply an Indian sports activities biopic cares for.

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