Bollywood actress Sara Ali Khan tries hard to sail through in a dull film - GulfToday

Bollywood actress Sara Ali Khan tries hard to sail through in a dull film

Sara Ali Khan poses for a picture during the promotion of the Hindi film ‘Kedarnath’ in Mumbai. File/AFP

There may not be anything like an entirely historically accurate film. With liberties taken and not merely tweaked to make incidents more palatable or believable in order to tell a certain story, there could be numerous valid reasons for a storyteller’s dire need to change parts of history.

Unless incidents are altered completely, that may still be explicable or pardonable because contemporary accounts may be coloured by a particular ideology, and isn’t it every director’s prerogative to present his or her point of view? What filmmakers cannot afford to get away with is a shoddy narrative that struggles to stay afloat — or poor acting that fails to strike a chord.

We have all grown up studying (and not just reading) history and India’s fight for independence is firmly unshakable as a lesson. Director Kannan Iyer’s biographical ‘Ae Watan Mere Watan’ uses the 1942 Quit India Movement as the backdrop to familiarise us with the lesser-heard story of Usha Mehta (Sara Ali Khan).

Mehta is a young girl who has her heart in the right place to send off signals to the British regime that there is a rebellion brewing even in the form of an underground radio station to take on the might of the Raj. With the help of her underground radio, she spreads the strong message of unity among all those who think like her. She wants to defy the British authorities during the Quit India Movement even as the colonial master become all the more violent on Indians who dare to challenge them.

Inspired by the slogan ‘Do or Die’, a group of young people pledge to reinforce her radio rebellion. The running of the short-wave radio is secretly carried out, leaving its listeners intrigued and amused, even as the authorities remain clueless about its inception or its headquarters.

To run Congress Radio and make it the voice that daringly provokes common folk to rise against the tyrannical British rule, Mehta is ably supported by good friends Fahad (Sparsh Srivastav) and Kaushik (Abhay Verma). On the home front, though, all’s not well for Usha. Her father Hariprasad (Sachin Khedekar), a judge, strongly disapproves of her rebellion and favours the British rulers and their policies.

The ingeniously skilful communication with help of the radio bridges the gap to further the fight for Independence. It also manages to rouse the sentiments with its clear message, so much so that it impresses Congress leader Ram Manohar Lohia (Emraan Hashmi), who is on the run evading arrest.

It is only when the British police officer, John Lyre (Alex O’Nell), who seems hell bent on arresting the plotters, swings into action, that matters go out of hand. The young freedom fighters are poorly equipped to counter the brutal regime and its coercive institutions.

Interestingly, some of the characters, while not peddling patriotism, mouth the importance of news and how it empowers a nation. Mehta accuses the British Raj of stifling freedom of expression and spreading falsehood.

Indo-Asian News Service

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