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

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

Ae Watan Mere Watan movie review: Remember Sara Ali Khan’s dialogue “Tum mujhe tang karne lage ho” from Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal (2020) that made so much noise? I had a déjà vu of sorts watching her in Ae Watan Mere Watan and how she delivers her lines in this historical drama. (Also Read – Sara Ali Khan on making her family proud: ‘I want to inspire my brother Ibrahim as an elder sister’)

Ae Watan Mere Watan movie review: Sara Ali Khan plays a freedom fighter

The film, in all honesty, is a sincere attempt at being a different, nuanced and well-narrated tale of an unsung hero in India’s freedom struggle, but Sara’s awful dialogue delivery, with several mismatched expressions, turns out to be the roadblock you can’t get past. I mean, we called out Rashmika Mandanna for her poor dialogue delivery in Animal, when she doesn’t even speak Hindi as her native language, so seeing Sara sail in the same boat was a bit painful for sure. Mind you, she does some amazing (ahem ahem) poetry in shuddh (pure) Hindi and is well-versed with Urdu too. Maybe a few dialect lessons would have saved her, and the audience too.

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As a film, Ae Watan Mere Watan doesn’t need any context-setting or flashbacks to give you the premise as it switches from black-and-white frames to sepia tones very swiftly. Transporting you straight to the pre-Independence era in early ‘40s, the film puts the spotlight on freedom fighters and the agitated youth out on the streets joining hands for the Quit India Movement. Ae Watan Mere Watan rides heavily on chest-thumping patriotism with chants of Jai Hind and Vande Mataram often leading to commotion between the youth and the British police force.

Highlighting India’s struggle for freedom in 1942, the film traces the life of Usha Mehta (Sara), a young girl who braves all odds to make her hatred for the British authorities heard. It’s after the arrest of prominent freedom fighters that Usha, along with her trusted allies, Fahad (Spash Srivastava) and Kaushik (Abhay Verma), takes matter in her hands. The film showcases their journey of starting an underground radio station called Congress Radio with the sole aim of spreading the message of unity against the British rule. Following Mahatma Gandhi’s ideologies of non-violence, the motto they follow is ‘Karo Ya Maro’ (Do or die), and some of them even take an oath of celibacy. During the journey, their encounter with Ram Manohar Lohia (Emraan Hashmi) gives a new direction to their revolution, and then begins an exhilarating chase with the British authorities.

Loosely based on the life of this unsung hero, the biographical film serves as a chapter out of a history textbook. However, as the story unfolds, a bit of predictability sets in sooner that you’d imagine. Kannan Iyer returns to direction after over a decade since his directorial debut Ek Thi Daayan, and what a stark contrast of genres he picked to go behind the camera for. In his latest outing, he tries to keep the old-world charm intact, which is evident in the architecture of the buildings, narrow lanes, costumes as well as the dialect.

Sara, from donning an overtly glammed-up avatar in her Netflix India film Murder Mubarak that dropped last week, is seen in a totally de-glam role in Ae Watan Mere Watan. Though, it’s interesting to note how her wardrobe shifts from cotton suits and neatly-draped dupattas to cotton sarees with puffed-sleeve blouses. She seems to have put her might into this restrained performance, but having seen Sara’s personality, this looked a bit of a miscast. She never convinces you as Usha or someone who will be so subtle in her actions. However, there’s this one particular scene where she enters a mosque hiding behind a burqa, and that’s quite well-performed.

Emraan, on the other hand, stands out as Lohia and brings a gravitas with his act. There are some heavyweight lines he gets to say, for instance, “Chahe kitni bhi teeliyan bujh jayein, hamare seene ki aag kabhi nahi bujhegi” (No matter how many matchsticks get doused, the fire in our hearts will always remain).

Among other bits that are worth taking notice include Usha’s dynamics with her father, Judge Hariprasad Mehta (Sachin Khedekar). Be it their scenes from her childhood when she’s watching Serbian birds flying in the sky and wanting to have wings, to the times when she’s a grown up and confesses to her father that she’s working for the Congress, these well-written portions will move you.

I particularly loved the whole sequence where Usha, Fahad and Kaushik are strategising how to start the radio station. From having 551 to buy the radio that would cost them 4000, Usha’s bua (paternal aunt) offering to sell her gold jewellery wanting to make some contribution in ‘desh ki azaadi’ (country’s independence) to deciding the apt timing for their broadcast when maximum junta is at home and even composing the signature tune of All India Radio — you can notice the nitty-gritties that the writing department has paid attention to.

The fact that Ae Mere Watan is set in the pre-Independence era, you can’t overlook the unapologetic usage of Hindi terminology that’s sprinkled throughout the story. So, don’t be surprised upon hearing 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 note of as many as I could and they’re long additions to your vocabulary.

Ae Watan Mere Watan might have some complicated tropes, which are tough to grasp if you aren’t paying proper attention, but you have to give it to the team for at least trying to simplify it. For instance, when Bombay Police is tracing Congress Radio and its location, the use of Triangulation technology is so well explained in-depth. All I wish for is that similar attention would’ve been given to Sara’s dialogue delivery techniques, so it would have been a more bearable watch of over two hours.

Ae Watan Mere Watan is now streaming on Prime Video India.

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