‘Ae Watan Mere Watan’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Did Usha Mehta Start The Congress Radio?


Ae Watan Mere Watan tells the story of India’s unsung heroine, Usha Mehta, a revolutionary who helped spread the message of the Congress Party across the country through a radio station. The period film set in 1942 encapsulates a small part of the freedom movement, bringing to the forefront the voices of those who lived Gandhi’s “Do or Die.” Sarah Ali Khan stars in the lead role of Usha and seems to have put sincere effort into playing the role. The film, though attempts to be a revolution in itself, fails to engage as it is intended, yet comes across as a wholehearted effort. So let’s step into 1942’s independence struggle, during the Quit India Movement, and unpack the story of Usha, the 22-year-old who lent her voice to the freedom struggle.

Spoiler Alert

What Made Usha So Eager To Join The Fight? 

In 1930, a young Usha watched her school teacher, an earnest man and supporter of Gandhi, get beaten up by the police. As a young child, barely 3 feet high, she still tried to stop the police and got hurt in the process. At home, her father, a judge, locks her up in a room to try to curb her courage. The next day, they watch Siberian cranes from their window, and Usha exclaims that she wants to fly too. I suppose this should’ve been a sign that Usha’s wings could never be clipped. Many years later, a 22-year-old Usha is at the heart of the freedom fight, something her father, who is still compliant with the British and enjoys the benefits of the same (receiving a car for his work), doesn’t know about. Usha has a few friends along with her, including a man named Fahad and the love of her life, Kaushik. The gang gets involved with the Congress party, though Usha lies to her father and swears she has nothing to do with them. 

Usha and the gang get to see Gandhi a little while later, and she pledges to become a “Brahmachari.” This includes a vow of celibacy and makes Kaushik very upset. Though initially he’s heartbroken that she would make such a decision without speaking with him, he ends up continuing to fight anyway. This is when Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement, and in the process, all of the big names and the Congress party leaders got arrested. During this time, Usha and the gang attempt to keep the Indian Flag upright but get brutally beaten up by the police. Still, the gang doesn’t plan on giving up soon, or at least Usha and Fahad. The film almost makes it seem like they’re only fighting because they want to die for the country. Seeing as all the press is controlled by the enemy, there’s one thing lacking in the country: communication. As they spread their lies, the country’s unity is broken, so Usha comes up with the idea of starting an illegal radio broadcast. Immediately, two of the members of the gang decide to leave because they don’t plan on getting hanged so easily. 

How Did Congress Radio Come About?

Usha, Kaushik, and Fahad find themselves in a difficult position when the radio they want to purchase is going to cost them much more than they expected. Still, Usha is determined to get her hands on it. This is when her grandaunt offers to sell some of her gold because this is the only way she can contribute to the Quit India Movement. Overjoyed, Usha and the gang get the engineer, Firdaus, to set up the radio for them and teach them how to use it. 42.34 is the frequency, and the gang broadcast recorded messages from the Congress leaders every night at 8:30 p.m. The message spreads quickly in certain parts of the country, specifically between Mangalore and Ajmer, even getting attention from Ram Manohar Lohia, a political agitator on the radar of the British. 

On the other hand, Usha is struggling to communicate with her father, who seems to be more distant than ever before. When he learns that she is lying and running a radio station, he tries to stop her again, but this time she runs away, calling his love an obstacle to her flight. She’s willing to give her life for the country, and her father can’t do anything to stop her now. As an independent woman, Usha becomes more involved with the party and finally gets to meet Lohia, an inspirational figure. When he learns that it is she and her friends who are running the radio, he decides to work with them to make the Congress radio the voice of the country. Seeing as all the leaders are locked up and there’s no other way to communicate, this would be the only way to get the country to act on the Quit India Movement. 

How Does Congress Radio Get Caught? 

With the help of Lohia’s radio expert, the team has the perfect system to deliver clear messages across the country. Suddenly, everyone is tuned in to 42.34 at 8:30 p.m. every night, making it a nuisance for the British. This could lead to countrywide protests and agitation, so the British started to search for the radio operators. John Lyre, the man who arrested Gandhi and the rest, is put on a mission to catch the radio operators. On the other hand, seeing Usha put herself in more danger as the days go by, Kaushik decides to leave her side because he can’t watch her set herself up for inevitable death. Somehow, for a little while, the kids succeed in hiding the radio from Lyre, but soon, using American technology and triangulation, Lyre is able to find the radio. 

This is where the film begins, when Usha is stopped in her stride while trying to escape from the building where they’re operating the radio. Somehow, Fahad and she are able to escape and hide the transmitter from the police, though their entire plan seems to be in jeopardy. Lyre realizes that there are only a few radio engineers in the city and manages to catch Firdaus, who gives up the position of their new transmitter (the only way they could’ve countered triangulation). Earlier, in the process of saving Firdaus, Balbir, an ardent member of the fight, sacrifices himself. 

Diwali is chosen as the day for revolution, and in pockets all across the country, people start to prepare for a revolution. On the other hand, Lohia’s location is compromised, but he continues to work from the shadows, now leaving everything up to Usha and Fahad. Now, through the movie, we know that Usha and Fahad will both give their lives for the country in the blink of an eye, but Usha manages to hurt Fahad’s feelings by using his limp against him. Fahad gives her his blessings because he claims he’d have done the same thing. Usha knows there’s no way she won’t be caught this time, and she’s okay with that as long as Lohia’s complete message reaches the country. Kaushik shows up now, telling Usha that for some, revolution is their love, and for others, love is their revolution (umm). The two of them block the doors to make sure the police can’t get in easily because, as soon as the broadcast starts, there’s only 5 minutes until they’re found out. Lohia’s message is quite a long one, and all Usha wants is for him to make the declaration. 

Ultimately, the police break in right after the declaration is made, and the revolution begins. Usha and Kaushik are caught as the national song Vande Mataram plays on the radio. Kaushik is unable to stand the torture and signs a paper naming Lohia as the instigator of the revolution. In the meantime, Usha does not budge. 

During Ae Watan Mere Watan‘s ending, we learn that Usha was sentenced to four years of imprisonment. While in prison, she receives a letter of apology from her father. He’s never felt more pride than as the father of Usha. He even gets a visit from Lohia and finally breaks away from the comfortable shackles of the British. When Usha is released from prison, 20,000 people come to receive her, despite it being illegal for so many to gather. Kaushik and Fahad are in the crowd too, and Usha’s father claims that she’s not just a revolutionary; she is herself the revolution. Ae Watan Mere Watan shows the power of courage against all odds. Despite many obstacles, both external and internal, Usha is able to stand tall and fight for her country’s freedom. It’s certainly inspiring, especially because Usha was a woman who was already making sacrifices by stepping out of her home. Lohia was caught in 1944 and continued to fight much later. 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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