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Ae Watan Mere Watan review: Sara Ali Khan’s dialogue delivery is more painful to watch than India’s freedom struggle

Ae Watan Mere Watan movie review: Sara Ali Khan’s terrible dialogue delivery, combined with various mismatched expressions, proves to be a stumbling hurdle.

Ae Watan Mere Watan Movie Review: Remember Sara Ali Khan’sTum mujhe tang karne lage ho” dialogue from Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal (2020), which generated so much noise? I felt a sense of déjà vu when watching her in Ae Watan Mere Watan and how she delivered her lines in this historical play. (Also Read: Sara Ali Khan on making her family proud: ‘I want to influence my brother Ibrahim like an elder sister’)

In all honesty, the film is a genuine attempt to tell a unique, nuanced, and well-narrated story about an unsung hero in India’s liberation movement, but Sara’s terrible line delivery, along with multiple mismatched expressions, proves to be the impediment. I mean, we chastised Rashmika Mandanna for her awful dialogue delivery in Animal, despite the fact that she does not speak Hindi as a first language, so seeing Sara in the same situation was really uncomfortable. Mind you, she writes some great (ahem) poetry in shuddh (pure) Hindi and is also fluent in Urdu. Perhaps a few dialect lessons could have rescued her and the audience.

As a film, Ae Watan Mere Watan does not require any backstory or flashbacks to establish the premise, as it quickly transitions from black-and-white to sepia tones. The film transports you to the pre-Independence era of the early 1940s, focusing on freedom fighters and angry youngsters on the streets who banded together for the Quit India movement. Ae Watan Mere Watan is mainly based on chest-thumping patriotism, with chants of Jai Hind and Vande Mataram frequently causing conflict between the young and British police.

The film, which focuses on India’s war for independence in 1942, follows the life of Usha Mehta (Sara), a little girl who defies all difficulties to express her disdain for the British authority. After the arrest of major freedom fighters, Usha, along with her trusted comrades Fahad (Spash Srivastava) and Kaushik (Abhay Verma), takes matters into her hands. The film depicts their journey to establish an underground radio station named Congress Radio with the express purpose of disseminating a message of solidarity against British tyranny. Following Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent ideas, their motto is ‘Karo Ya Maro’ (Do or Die), and some even swear an oath of celibacy. During the way, they meet Ram Manohar Lohia (Emraan Hashmi), who gives their movement a new direction before leading them on an adventurous pursuit with the British police.

The biographical picture is loosely based on the biography of an unsung hero and reads like a history textbook chapter. However, as the plot progresses, a sense of predictability sets in sooner than expected. Kannan Iyer returns to directing after more than a decade since his directorial debut, Ek Thi Daayan, and what a striking contrast of genres he has chosen to work in. In his most recent film, he strives to preserve the old-world beauty, as evidenced by the architecture of the buildings, small roads, clothes, and dialect.

Sara, who wore an aggressively glammed-up avatar in her Netflix India feature Murder Mubarak, which premiered last week, plays a completely de-glam part in Ae Watan Mere Watan. It’s amazing to see how her outfit transitions from cotton suits and nicely draped dupattas to cotton sarees with puffed-sleeve blouses. She appears to have put her all into this restrained performance, but given Sara’s demeanor, this seemed a bit miscast. She never convinces you like Usha or someone who is so subtle in her behaviors. However, there is one scene in which she enters a mosque while hiding behind a burqa, and it is quite nicely acted.

Emraan, on the other hand, shines out as Lohia and exudes seriousness with his performance. He gets to say some heavyweight lines, such as, “Chahe kitni bhi teeliyan bujh jayein, hamare seene ki aag kabhi nahi bujhegi” (No matter how many matchsticks are quenched, the fire in our hearts will always stay).

Other notable moments include Usha’s interactions with her father, Judge Hariprasad Mehta (Sachin Khedekar). These well-written sequences, from her youth when she watches Serbian birds flying in the sky and wishes she had wings, to her adulthood when she reveals to her father that she works for the Congress, will move you.

I especially enjoyed the scene where Usha, Fahad, and Kaushik are planning how to launch the radio station. The writing department has paid attention to the details, such as Usha’s bua selling her gold jewelry to contribute to the country’s independence, deciding the best time to broadcast, and composing the signature tune of All India Radio.

Given that Ae Mere Watan is set in pre-Independence India, the unabashed use of Hindi vocabulary throughout the plot is unavoidable. Don’t be surprised to hear words like avaam, azaadi, kaayar, angrez, mazhab, zaalim, yudh, balidaan, garv, kranti, vidroh, shaheed, ahinsa, parcham, sangharsh, and samrajya every two minutes. Yes, I tried to take notes on as many as I could, and they’re substantial increases to your vocabulary.

Ae Watan. Mere Watan may contain some sophisticated tropes that are difficult to understand if you aren’t paying attention, but you have to give credit to the team for at least attempting to explain them. For example, when Bombay Police is tracing Congress Radio and determining its location, the use of triangulation technology is thoroughly discussed. All I want is that Sara’s conversation delivery techniques had received similar attention, making the two-hour viewing more palatable.

Ae Watan Mere Watan is currently available on Prime Video India.



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