Case Study
Recreating 1940s Bombay for ‘Ae Watan Mere Watan’


Produced by Dharmatic Entertainment and premiered on Amazon Prime, 'Ae Watan Mere Watan' tells the true story of Usha Mehta, a young freedom fighter who started an underground radio station during India's struggle for independence in 1942. FutureWorks proudly delivered over 700 VFX shots for the feature film.


Project: Ae Watan Mere Watan
Client: Dharmatic Entertainment
Service: VFX

Ae Watan Mere Watan has received critical acclaim for its portrayal of Mehta's chase with British authorities while spreading Mahatma Gandhi's 'Quit India' campaign message. Directed by Kannan Iyer and produced by Karan Johar, Mehta's protagonist is portrayed by Sara Ali Khan. The Times of India praised it as a "biographical drama [that] engages audiences with its portrayal of the era, boasting rich art direction that vividly captures the mood of the country during that period."

Under the guidance of Senior VFX Supervisor Ashoke Chowdhury, FutureWorks delivered the visual effects for the period drama, working closely with Iyer to ensure the historical accuracy and cinematic recreation for over 700 shots.

"The director had an ambitious vision for 'Ae Watan' and was thorough in recreating 1940s Bombay," says Chowdhury. "The scope of our work was extensive, incorporating numerous historical details. The best VFX in film often goes unnoticed."

A key sequence handled by FutureWorks was Mahatma Gandhi's 'Quit India' speech at the Gowalia Tank (now 'August Kranti Maidan') in Bombay. The team utilised crowd simulation and CGI elements, alongside historical photographs and visual references, to reconstruct this significant scene.

Image courtesy of Dharmatic Entertainment

“One of the most challenging sequences was Gandhi's 'Quit India' speech,” explains CG Supervisor Amiteshwar Anand. “Animating the trees posed a particular challenge due to the large cache sizes. We significantly enhanced the scene's lighting and optimised the textures of CG elements to maintain scale and fidelity.”

“To bring the shot to life, we incorporated CG vehicles, trams, crowds, and props,” explains Chowdhury. “Our pipeline, centred around Foundry's Katana, was essential in managing the complexity of these scenes within our tight post-schedule.”

Katana's scalable architecture allowed the team to handle large datasets, such as detailed crowd simulations and environment reconstructions needed for the film. This was especially advantageous for sequences featuring large crowds and intricate historical settings. The precise control over scene elements enabled the team to achieve the rich, authentic look vital for recreating 1940s Bombay.

Image courtesy of Dharmatic Entertainment

In addition to the intricate CG work, Iyer sought to replicate the original dimensions of the Gowalia Tank, striving for maximum realism and accuracy. “Our Creative Director, Sanjay Trimbakkar, put significant effort into researching historical references,” Chowdhury notes. “The level of detail we attained was due to tireless work and thorough research. The director was very satisfied with the outcome.”

Another crucial task was combining live-action with visual effects. Several sequences involved real crowds against CGI backdrops, as well as real buildings enhanced with CGI elements to bring history to life. In the film's final scene, Mehta is released from jail, reenacting the actual moment when 20,000 supporters defied the British Raj to celebrate her freedom. Although the station was depicted as 'Bombay', the FutureWorks team used Bandra station on the southwestern outskirts of the city as a reference to recreate the terminal using CGI.

Image courtesy of Dharmatic Entertainment

“It was a highly collaborative effort,” says Trimbakkar. “We worked closely with the directorial team to ensure historical accuracy. We had the freedom to design our assets based on extensive research, including photographs of buildings, vehicles, and fashion in 1940s Bombay.”

FWX | Futureworks