IFFI 2023: A different kind of 'ishq' from Karan Johar's stable

The historically-themed, Sara Ali Khan starrer film, 'Ae Watan Mere Watan', unveils a relevant inspirational tale
The team of 'Ae Watan Mere Watan' at the in-conversation session at IFFI 2023.
The team of 'Ae Watan Mere Watan' at the in-conversation session at IFFI 2023.Photo: Raj Borbhatkar

Known for crafting romantic love stories, Karan Johar is set to bring a different kind of love story to the screens – love for their nation – through his production Ae Watan Mere Watan, which saw the release of its motion poster at the opening ceremony of the 54th edition of IFFI in Goa.

“It’s one of our proudest films, I really had tears while watching it,” Johar said at the conversation titled 'Drawing Inspiration from History to create an immersive cinematic experience for today’s audiences' at the Kala Academy in Panjim.

The conversation took place at the recently reopened Kala Academy in Panjim.
The conversation took place at the recently reopened Kala Academy in Panjim.Photo: Abigail Crasto

Panelists also included producer Apoorva Mehta, director Kannan Iyer, lead actor Sara Ali Khan and Aparna Purohit Head of Originals (India) at Amazon Prime Video, who shared insights into the film. The panelists were of the view that the movie story is a relevant one and the current generation can source inspiration from it.

A fictional drama based on true events set against the backdrop of the Quit India Movement in 1942, Ae Watan Mere Watan pays tribute to the fearless heroes of India’s freedom struggle. It has Sara Ali Khan playing a college girl in then Bombay and who goes on to become a freedom fighter.

The audience got a glimpse of a teaser of the film at the event.
The audience got a glimpse of a teaser of the film at the event.Photo: Abigail Crasto

“Sara’s character is inspired by Usha Mehta. What I mean by this is that we have remained true to the actual events that took place around the Quit India Movement. But we have taken a lot of creative liberties to make the film much more engaging,” Iyer, the film’s director said.

Sara calls herself a modern girl who loves her mascara and nail polish, but getting into this role she had to shed some nuances of her own personality. “Getting into the skin of the character required me trusting the director’s instinct and also having some belief in myself,” she said, adding that the entire world helped her get into the flow.

The panelists shared insights into the film which will be released early next year.
The panelists shared insights into the film which will be released early next year.Photo: Abigail Crasto

Unlike the radiant yellow saree Sara chose to drape around her on the occasion, the short AV screened showed a simple Sara clad in a white saree with plaited hair, operating a clandestine radio.

“There’s so much history that our country has to offer and stories of sacrifice take so many forms. There’s bravery and strength that we can visualize and you think of Bhagat Singh, but there are so many unsung heroes’ sacrifices that take the form of just personal strength, valour that’s not so much physical, but the mental fortitude required on a daily basis to fight for what you really love,” Sara said.

Sara Ali Khan in a yellow saree was a picture of herself.
Sara Ali Khan in a yellow saree was a picture of herself. Photo: Raj Borbhatkar

The film is an Amazon Original movie which is a Dharmatic Entertainment Production, the two having many collaborative projects, leading Karan to say, “It’s Amazon and Dharma Ki Prem Kahani”.

Reiterating that, Aparna said Amazon Prime is home to Dharma Productions and also disputed the assumption that it’s only crimes and thrillers that do well on OTT platforms. “It’s very satisfying to know that there is a voracious appetite for authentic, really rooted stories,” she said.

The team of 'Ae Watan Mere Watan' at the in-conversation session at IFFI 2023.
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Karan concluded saying, “Making this film was a soulful creative decision. And this patriotic film is also a thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat or your bed (from wherever you’re watching it).”

The film is scheduled to be released on Amazon early next year.

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