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quick review:

Refreshing that a film is based on a simple but true story of extraordinary achievements. Refreshing that a sports film isn’t an underdog or rags-riches tale. Alas, that’s about it. So to be watched only if you are intrigued about the player’s story. (Available on Amazon Prime)

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Director: Amole Gupte
Running time: 140 minutes
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Saina Nehwal’s success story is one that brings goosebumps even though it doesn’t have dramatic moments. That is the power of a story of such achievements. The film Saina neither takes away nor adds to the charm of the story. Unfortunately, that makes it a movie that can be watched only if you want some detail on how the player got there.

There’s something to be said about a biopic that tries its best from becoming a hagiography.

There’s something to be said about a biopic that tries its best from becoming a hagiography. Very few achieve that, and Saina manages to. At the same time, it does come across as a record of complaints that the player might have against some people on her path—those too not vehement ones. The film conveys these along with her no-nonsense approach and doesn’t undermine her hard work along the way. In fact, her hard work is presented matter-of-factly without making a big hullabaloo about it.

That, however, disengages you from the proceedings every once in a while. You then being to notice the details that don’t add up. Like the uneven and forced accents of Parineeti Chopra and some of the other characters. Then you have the constant voiceover, which doesn’t come from a consistent place. Some times it feels like it is a carryover from the press conference Saina addressed at the beginning of the film; at other times, it feels like she’s talking to us, the audience; and at yet other times, it feels like we are hearing her talk to herself.

The performances don’t leave room for complaint, and the effort shines through, especially how hard Parineeti Chopra must’ve trained. At the same time, the spark that could stay with you for a long time is missing. It doesn’t help that ordinary day-to-day exchanges suddenly see a spurt of filmy over-written dialogue, making the film seem jerky.

All this put together makes the movie-watching experience underwhelming, which is only saved by the steps in Saina’s journey towards victory.

- meeta, a part of the audience

13 reviewers(?) - 6 yays 6 so-so 1 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, SAINA gives a great overview of one of the finest sports player of our country. The performance of Parineeti Chopra, the dramatic and emotional moments and the appropriate pace of the film contributes highly to the film’s appeal. Go for it... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...In a nutshell, director Amole Gupte, who has made us aware of parent-child bond, as well as coach-student relationships through previous films as Taare Zameen Par and Hawaa Hawaai, has tried to bring what he’s best at into the sports biopic zone. The end result will make you want for more...... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Varma, : ...Saina by Amole Gupte showcases the life of the Indian sports legend Saina Nehwal – the girl who started playing at the age of eight and became an inspiration for the world, every woman and human in general by fighting all odds in an emotionally empowering biopic that sees Parineeti Chopra delivering a smashing performance to deliver a winner.... full review

Thumbs up, by Gautam Batra, koimoi : ...Overall, Saina is everything you need to watch this weekend in cinemas. It will inspire you, move you and most importantly entertain you. Go for it!... full review

Thumbs up, by Himesh Mankad, Pinkvilla : ...Overall, it’s an ace for Amole Gupte with this biopic, however, it could have been a clean sweep had he taken care of some flaws by focusing a little better on the character build up and the badminton matches. The team does justice to the achievements and legacy of Saina Nehwal with well-intentioned biopic. Saina is a winner, on and off the court.... full review

Thumbs up, by Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India : ...Amole Gupte always had a tough task at hand as Saina’s life has been sober, relatively uncontroversial and transparent. The fact that she is an active sports person only adds to the expectations.... full review

So-So, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Saina begins with a disclaimer that it is a fictionalised and dramatised version but the end credits roll against photos of the real Saina and Parineeti in the same poses, doing the same actions and even wearing the same clothes. Which encapsulates the problem with too many biopics. Eventually, authenticity isn’t as important as capturing the essence of a person and evoking emotion. Saina, shining with sincerity and hard work, also misses this crucial point.... full review

So-So, by Abhishek Dixit, Free Press Journal : ...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.... full review

So-So, by JOGINDER TUTEJA, Planet Bollywood : ...It’s this sort of predictability that is the core thematic style of Saina as a whole as well which robs the film of turning out to be something that it could have been but doesn’t quite reach there.... full review

So-So, by Prateek Sur, Rediff : ...Saina, despite being predictable and sluggish at some places, seems like something Parineeti Chopra would be proud of.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, : ...Rajan’s preoccupation with discipline and Saina’s wandering attention tear apart the match-winning pair. The tensions between trainer and shuttler, which are based on real-life events, supply a sense of drama to a movie that is in danger of being reduced to a series of fast-moving montages. Piyush Shah’s cinematography and Deepa Bhatia’s editing bring out the zing in this indoor sport, but it soon becomes apparent that the narrative needs to slow down a bit.///... full review

So-So, Sify Movies : ...If you were to ask for three reasons one might extend while recommending the film despite its mediocrity, we would pitch Naishaa as one. Amaal Mallik's fabulous musical score would be another. After a long time, we have a Hindi film with songs that linger in your mind. As far as a third reason goes -- one can't spot an obvious third reason. Saina Nehwal could do with a better biopic.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Is there a reason the stadium of the Syed Modi International final in the climax resembles a dance reality show audience? No. Is there a valid reason the trademark screams of Spanish player Carolina Marin are simply copy+pasted into each point instead of varying its volumes according to the intensity of the game? No. Will we come out of the theatre with a renewed understanding of the relationship between champions and fortitude? No. Are we proud of Saina Nehwal? Yes. And perhaps that’s the only answer an Indian sports biopic cares for.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: True story of badminton player, Saina Nehwal
  • General Look and Feel: A simple, no-frill execution

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:

Saina - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Music Director:
Running time:
140 minutes

Comments (1)

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Meetu, I do not intend to see the movie, but as always - enjoyed your review. Parineeti is trying hard to do different roles - like Girl on the Train and this one. Feels like she is nearing the end of her career...

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