‘Saina’ movie review: Biopic of the badminton champion is better on the court than off it

‘Saina’ movie review: Biopic of the badminton champion is better on the court than off it

Amole Gupte’s film about Saina Nehwal stars Parineeti Chopra.

In Amole Gupte’s Saina Nehwal biopic, it’s expectedly all about badminton. The sport features in nearly all the scenes of the cradle-to-the-present portrait. It begins even before Saina has appeared on the planet. Her mother Usha Rani is a district-level player, and her father Harvir has wielded the racquet too.

Usha Rani is the one who takes the lead in moulding Saina into a champion and the first Indian woman to achieve the top ranking in badminton. Usha Rani pushes, cajoles and even threatens her daughter into mastering the sport, prefiguring the young girl’s later involvement with an even greater taskmaster.

Like Taare Zameen Par, Gupte’s screenplay about an artistically inclined dyslexic boy, and his movie Hawaa Hawaai, about a talented skater, Saina explores the relationship between prodigies and their mentors. Gupte’s depiction of Saina Nehwal’s trailblazing achievements follows the familiar rhythms of the sports biopic, but is at its strongest when it examines her life-altering entanglement with her second coach.

This coach is not identified by name. For reasons that are unclear, Pullela Gopichand, who trained Saina Nehwal to achieve international glory, is depicted by the fictional Rajan (Manav Kaul). Rajan arrives at just the right moment in Saina’s career. Saina (Parineeti Chopra) has been smashing her way to victory, playing an aggressive game and following her mother’s dairy-heavy diet to the last drop.

Rajan changes more than Saina’s eating habits. He replaces her mother as the authority figure in her life. The gruelling training at Rajan’s centre produces results, but it’s never enough for the clinical and frighteningly focused coach.

We have a tendency to see dreams that are fulfilled all too easily, Rajan tells Saina. He shows her difference between preternatural talent and assiduously sculpted brilliance (Champions are not born but made is the motto of the academy he runs is). However, Rajan’s game strategy, which might have provided an ever deeper understanding of his contributions to his protege’s success, remains unexplored.

News Source: Scrollin

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