Ae Watan Mere Watan: A Moderately Engaging Tale Of An Unsung Hero

Kannan Iyer deserves credit for bringing to live an unheard talefrom the pages of history but sharper writing and a stronger actor would have made this movie more memorable.
21-03-2024, Biographical Drama, 2 hours and 13 minutes U/A, OTT
  • Main Cast: Sara Ali Khan, Sparsh Shrivastav, Anand Tiwari, Emraan Hashmi, Sachin Kedekar, and Abhay Verma
  • Director: Kannan Iyer
  • Producer: Karan Johar and Somen Mishra
  • Music Director: Mukund Suryawanshi, Akashdeep Sengupta, and Sashi Suman
  • Cinematography: Amalendu Choudary

India’s independence is a result of many people’s blood and sweat. These include not just the ones that we have read in history books.

There are many unsung heroes about whom we have little to no knowledge.

Kannan Iyers Ae Watan Mere Watan is about one such personality.


Usha Mehta (Sara Ali Khan) is a big devotee of Mahatma Gandhi.

Her father Hariprasad Mehta (Sachin Kedakar) is a judge working for the British regime. Neither he approves of his daughter’s rebellious nature nor Usha likes the ways of her father.

Things take a dramatic turn when Mahatma Gandhi and some more leaders are imprisoned during the Quit India Movement.

The British have complete control over the media. The radio, in particular, becomes a medium to divide the nation by spreading misinformation.

In retaliation, Usha and her fellow revolutionaries launch a radio channel — Congress Radio.

The Congress Radio becomes an instant hit; it catches the attention of Ram Manohar Lohia (Emraan Hashmi).

Ram Manohar Lohia was a pre-independence leader who managed not to get caught by the British.

Of course, this Congress Radio also comes under the notice of the British and they decide to track down the people behind this radio channel.

The rest of the story is about how Usha and her comrades fight to keep the radio alive and the role of Ram Manohar Lohia in this.

Back in 1942

Sara Ali Khan on the sets of ‘Ae Watan Mere Watan’. (X)

A strong aspect of Ae Watan Mere Watan is how Kannan Iyer has recreated the pre-independence era.

The production design and cinematography, in particular, deserve praise for a job well done.

The costumes along with the architecture of buildings etc are spot on.

Usha’s dynamics with her father Hariprasad give the film some of its best moments — whether it is the scenes of playful innocence in her childhood like the one where Usha is watching Serbian birds flying in the sky and talks about wanting to have wings, or the later portions where the father and daughter have heated arguments given their different ideologies.

The scene where Hariprasad writes a letter to his daughter after Usha is jailed has been wonderfully written and performed.

Another track which deserves a mention is that of Sparsh Srivastava’s Fahad. Fahad suffers from polio but this physical disability never comes in the way of his zeal.

Inconsistent writing

There are two major issues with Ae Watan Mere Watan. One is the lack of more impactful writing by Darab Farooqui and Kannan Iyer.

The ineffective writing is particularly reflected in the love story between Usha and Abhay Varma’s character Kaushik.

Kaushik is not just a comrade but loves Usha. However, this aspect never comes out strong.

Another example of weak writing comes in the portions of Usha using a transmitter and the radio for the first time. We are never shown how Usha learns to use these things.

Compare this to the scenes of Alia’s Sehmat in Raazi (2018), the difference is as clear as day and light, both in terms of staging and acting performance.

Music and background score are of great importance for a film like this. But the movie is a big letdown in that area, too. None of the songs including the title track register.


Emraan Hashmi in ‘Ae Watan Mere Watan’. (X)

Sparsh Srivastava shows that his terrific performance in Laaptaa Ladies (2024) was no fluke. He portrays the fighting spirit of Fahad in a heart-touching manner.

Emraan Hashmi, as Manohar Lohia, makes a late entry but makes a striking impact. The actor also gets some impactful dialogue which he nails. For instance, there is a scene in a dark room.

A person is trying to generate light by using matchsticks but the matchsticks are getting doused.

You have the following dialogue by Manohar Lohia. “Chahe Kitni bhi teeliyan bujh jayein, hamaare seene ki aag kabhi nahi bujheg,” (No matter how many matchsticks get doused, the fire in our hearts will always remain.)

As Usha Mehta, Sara Ali Khan is like a fish out of water. The actor is earnest but her shrill dialogue delivery annoys the viewers, big time. She is unable to bring the required conviction.

The British characters are, of course, your usual stereotypes and they leave zero impact.

Particularly irritating to watch is Alex O ‘Niel as the antagonist who is given the responsibility of apprehending Usha and co.

Final take

To conclude an unsung hero like Usha Mehta deserved a far better movie based on her life.

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