‘Ae Watan Mere Watan’ Ending And Movie Explained: Were Usha Mehta And Other Freedom Fighters Arrested? 

Hindi cinema is filled with movies that delve into the Indian freedom struggle and other events that occurred in India post-Indian independence. The makers of such movies go ahead and take all the cinematic liberties they need to tweak the story and rely a lot of the narrative on jingoism. Just last week, there was Yodha, a movie about a soldier trying to avert the possibility of a conflict between India and its neighboring country. That film, incidentally, was produced by Dharma Films. Directed by Kannan Iyer, Ae Watan Mere Watan is the story of two freedom fighters who dared to make a difference for the sake of their motherland. The movie is based on two real-life freedom fighters who put a lot at stake to make sure their country received independence.


Spoilers Ahead

Who Was Usha Mehta?

Usha Mehta was a young, college-going girl from a family of means, as her father was a well-known judge who worked for British India. Unlike her father, Usha Mehta had begun to speak up against the rules, regulations, and orders set by the British Empire. As the entire country was rallying behind Mahatma Gandhi and his ideals, Usha, along with her friends Kaushik, Fahad, and Balbir, began to take part in several rallies and protest against British policies that ruined the lives of many in the country. There was a mention of Usha Mehta standing up for her schoolteacher in her younger days when he spoke in favor of Gandhiji’s Dandi march. Though the father and daughter had two different opinions of how the country needed to be run, they always remained cordial despite the argument. Usha was forced to make a promise to not join the Congress that was at the forefront of the freedom struggle. 


What Made Usha Go Against Her Father’s Wishes?

Usha’s father had purchased a new vehicle from the money he received from the British government. This forced her to speak up against the atrocities inflicted by the British against the Indians. She was quick to retort about how people like her father could not believe a huge country like India could be run by someone elected by the people. 

Usha attended a meeting in Mumbai where Gandhi declared ‘the Quit India Movement’ and there was no looking back for Usha and her friends, who were carried away by the emotions evoked by the Mahatma and his ideals to rid India of British control without any violence. She eventually went against the promise she made to her father, joined the Congress party, and chose to remain celibate for the rest of her life. Usha was an adamant woman, just like many others who were speaking up against the colonizers. Even though the father and daughter came to a middle ground regarding their mindset and opinion, Usha ended up leaving her home. 


Who Came Up With The Idea Of Running A Radio Station?

Usha and her friends had begun to brainstorm ideas to ensure their ideals reached every part of the country. The party was aware the government radio and other media were not covering important events that were taking place in the country and were whitewashing British atrocities. The people were being fed what the government wanted them to know, which included Usha’s father, who admired Churchill and his war strategies. 

Usha and Kaushik got in touch with Firdaus Engineer, who was a singer and a music director. The man introduced the two of them to his radio station, which he had launched but had to shut down because of the war as enforced by the British. Taking inspiration and aid from Firdaus, Usha suggested a radio station should be established and transmitted that would help them spread the actual news and speeches throughout the country. To contemplate the reach was a bargain and a risk they had to take, but everybody in the party, including the famed revolutionary Ram Manohar Lohia, also joined in the bandwagons and supported Usha’s idea of a new radio station. 


Were Usha And Her Team Initially Caught?

The radio was on air, and it had begun to transmit and broadcast the real stories, issues, and speeches of the leaders from around the country. The radio station was named Congress Radio and was initially able to get good traction. Ram Manohar and the party, including Usha, Kaushik, and Fahad, were happy to know their plan of action against the British was working. Unfortunately, their radio station was illegal and picked up by the British, and they had begun their hunt for the location of the station to shut it down. The penalty for running an illegal station was death by hanging, and all of them from the Congress party had taken the mantle to run the show without being afraid of getting caught. 

As the work on the radio was progressing, Usha could sense who was willing to help her and who wasn’t. Her aunt offered her the jewelry required to buy much equipment for the radio in the initial days of planning. Meanwhile, Kaushik, who was in love with Usha, chose to step back from the campaign because he feared for his life. Usha, Ram Manohar, and Fahad were close to getting caught by the police in Bombay when the Britishers deployed a radio detector mobile van. This van’s job was to catch illegal stations, and they aimed to shut down Congress Radio. They barely escaped the police raid on their building from which the broadcast was transmitted, and this was followed by Firdaus’ evading the arrest, but it cost Balbir his life.


How Did Usha Evade The Radio Station Detector?

Ram Manohar Lohia was on the verge of giving up Congress Radio when Usha gave them the idea of placing two transmitters for the radio to confuse the mobile van. The transmitter would have to be strategically placed in the hope that the mobile van would not be able to locate the radio station anywhere. There was a person from the police department who was offering information about the movement of law enforcement to Ram Manohar Lohia. This evasion technique used by Usha and Fahad was useful, but it wasn’t long before the police caught up with their ploy of utilizing two transmitters to hoodwink the authorities. The police were quick to pick up Firdaus, while Usha and Fahad were too late to save the man who helped them. Firdaus was forced to share the location of one of the transmitters, which put a lot of Ram Manohar and his team’s plan on the backfoot.

What Was Ram Manohar Lohia’s Plan?

The police were close to arresting Ram Manohar Lohia because, according to them, he was a traitor who was instigating the public to revolt against the British. Ram Manohar Lohia, on the other hand, had no fear of the law and was willing to sacrifice himself for a bigger cause. He was ready to be branded as a martyr, which would further fuel the agitation against the British establishment. Ram Manohar planned to bring the entire country to a standstill by still using the radio broadcast. The broadcast will give the people the power to question the establishment, for which they wouldn’t have answers. The whole idea of bringing the country to a halt was to cause a dent in the organizations that directly impacted the British treasury. This would force the British government to begin negotiations with the leaders of the country and contemplate exiting the country eventually. 


Were Usha Mehta And The Other Freedom Fighters Arrested? 

As the plan to broadcast the speech was made, Usha and Fahad went ahead to broadcast using only one transmitter. Several arrests were expected after this stunt, but Usha and Fahad were willing to put themselves in the line of fire for the sake of the country. Usha took it upon herself to safeguard the only transmitter that remained untouched by the British. Ram Manohar Lohia gives them the option of choosing either of them for the broadcast because it would mean they would get arrested. Fahad was polio-inflicted, and he felt it was his calling to sacrifice himself for the greater good. He wanted to prove he was complete by offering himself for the sake of the country he was born in. Usha wanted to prevent Fahad from being arrested and beaten to death. She wanted to run the broadcast because she felt, as a woman, it would be an achievement for her gender. Usha also wanted to prove her family’s rights and the need to speak up against the British establishment. Both wanted to be a part of history; eventually, it was Usha who chose to broadcast Ram Manohar’s speech. 

As the speech was being broadcast, Kaushik chose to come stand by Usha’s side to showcase his support for the woman he loved dearly. As they were in the apartment waiting for Ram Manohar to make the statement, the police were around the corner. If they barged into the apartment, they would stop the broadcast, and it would be the end of Ram Manohar’s campaign. The iconic speech was made, and soon after, Kaushik and Usha were arrested. Usha was brutally attacked, sent to prison, and stayed connected with her father through letters.


Usha’s father was not initially proud of her work, but since her party had gained enough traction, he could see the changes she was trying to bring to society by speaking up against the British. Her father had a change of mind, and that was Usha’s win. She could finally get her father on her side. The movie ended with Usha’s release from jail after four years in prison and her continued fight for independence, this time with her father and Kaushik by her side. Usha Mehta stayed away from politics long after and passed away in the year 2000. Her sacrifice was only for the independence of the country, and she remains an unsung hero who helped spread the idea of independence and Gandhian ideals throughout the country.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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