Ae Watan Mere Watan Review: Patriotism Over Radio Waves

"Ae Watan Mere Watan" is the story of Usha Mehta's contribution to India's independence through a radio revolution. 

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

Patriotism Over Radio Waves

Ae Watan Mere Watan Star Cast/ Actors: Sara Ali Khan as Usha Mehta, Anand Tiwari as Firdaus, Sachin Khedekar as Judge Hariprasad Mehta (Usha’s father), Uday Chandra as Mahatma Gandhi, Sanjeev Jaiswal as Alok, Emraan Hashmi as Ram Manohar Lohia, Abhay Verma as Kaushik, Sparsh Shrivastav as Fahad, Godaan Kumar as Balbir

Ae Watan Mere Watan Director: Kannan Iyer

Ae Watan Mere Watan Release Date: March 21, 2024

Ae Watan Mere Watan Available On: OTT Platform- Amazon Prime Video

Ae Watan Mere Watan Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada

Ae Watan Mere Watan Runtime: 133 Minutes

Ae Watan Mere Watan Critic Review:

Every drop counts. Every voice. Every show of courage. Especially in a massive ‘Do or die’ movement for a country’s independence from blood-sucking usurpers. 

Therefore, director Kannan Iyer and co-writer Darab Farooqui’s intent is noble. To tell the story of an unsung hero. To document the rare who stood up to the might of the British Empire for India’s freedom.

Usha Mehta (Sara Ali Khan), born to privilege and education as the daughter of a “Judge Sahab”(Sachin Khedekar, suited-booted), is ideologically at odds with her father. A Churchill admirer, he’s enamoured of the rulers, grateful for the radio from London and a car in his compound. Usha despises the Brits, is awestruck by Gandhi, ready to align with the Congress,willing to look her father in the eye and lie about her political allegiance. Everything’s kosher in the fight for freedom from the brutal Brits. Her father’s told at one stage, “I have wings but your love has caged me.”

Hmmm, Usha does betray a fascination for western dancing but otherwise has a tunnel-vision passion to join the freedom juggernaut. During a fan girl moment as a part of Gandhi’s large audience, Usha even gives up a future with her boyfriend Kaushik (a very pleasant Abhay Verma) to take a vow of celibacy, one of Gandhi’s pet obsessions, though he himself fathered a brood of children, experimented with sex on several levels and then turned celibate. That’s what unquestioning fervour does. Boyfriend Kaushik doesn’t even get to have a say in her decision. (Like wife Kasturba wasn’t consulted when Gandhi turned celibate.) In fact, Usha puts Kaushik in the dock for not making the sacrifice she so readily made and lectures him not to be, “… an obstacle on my path…the country’s bigger than us…”

An immediate project is the setting up of an underground radio station – Congress Radio, to keep communication alive and address Indians on the freedom movement.

Kannan doesn’t distract himself by debating the unquestioned allegiance and chugs on to solely spotlight Usha’s exemplary fearlessness, taking care to labour the point that the freedom movement had Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs fighting the Brits with equal patriotism. A polio-struck Fahad Ahmed (Sparsh Shrivatav) exemplifies the Muslim who looked up to Ram Mahohar Lohia (Emraan Hashmi) and dissed the Muslim League’s two-nation agenda. Kannan also makes space to briefly debate Lohia veering away from Gandhi’s non-violence. There’s a dialogue that goes, ‘Gandhi is Truth, but we are Right. And Truth isn’t always Right.’

The baby step taken by Usha, Fahad and a small team, gets a nationwide audience when Lohia steps in to amplify the voice of the freedom struggle over the radio.

Smash that radio, the Brits finally bark.

That’s when the pace picks up. With no-nonsense Inspector John (Alexx O Nell) on their trail, Congress Radio has to stay one step ahead of the authorities who have the technology to trace the transmission. Those are a few nail-biting moments.

But the dull telling of Usha’s story is problematic.Also, for a film that celebrates the spirit of a woman,Usha herself compares being a girl with being lame and says, it’s same, same. Not a good line for the gender even if you make allowances for the times it’s set in.

Long chases are filmed and a Sufi number on ‘Azaadi’ blares from a dargah from where Usha is making her escape in a burqa.Logic is also set aside for a thrill. For instance, why didn’t Lohia, who knew the pressure on time, make his ‘Bharat Roko’ message crisp and quick instead of a longwinded speech that could give the Brits enough time to trace the transmission?

However,it’s a great story even if it needed to be told far more impactfully.

Sara Ali Khan is earnest in her khadiwear but the effort is visible. Sparsh and Abhay are likeable as the boys by her side while Emraan doesn’t quite make an impact.

Ae Watan Mere Watan – Watch Or Not?: Since it’s the less-risky option of an OTT release, watch it to be acquainted with the story of Usha Mehta and the little-known tale of the underground radio station that helped our freedom movement.

Ae Watan Mere Watan Review Score Rating:  2.5 out of 5 (i.e. 2.5/5)

Ae Watan Mere Watan Official Trailer:

Ae Watan Mere Watan Official Trailer (Credits: Prime Video India)

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Patriotism Over Radio Waves Ae Watan Mere Watan Review: Patriotism Over Radio Waves