Mohenjo Daro: A Bold Attempt!
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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark
Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro is a bold attempt to tell a love story that happens in 2016 BC in an ancient city called Mohenjo Daro which was part of Indus Valley civilization. To showcase a period about which little is known is commendable and appreciable. When a director like Ashutosh Gowariker dares to chart an unknown path, it’s obvious that he is bound to fall prey to cynics and critics for its historical correctness and other detailing of cultural and social nuances. However, the film nowhere claims that it is depicting historical facts of a civilization that existed rather it just narrates a fictional story about power hungry people, coup, killings, migration of a family, reunion and reclaiming of the lost glory of a family by redeeming the people from the clutches of a cruel and scheming ruler who ruled in a city during that time.
The making of the movie has gone through rigorous research and consulting with historians and research experts and therefore, the filming had its own challenges of recreating a society where historical evidences available are just minimal. Banking heavily on imagination and creativity the film rolls through the life of a youth called Sarman who lives in a village called Amri. He has visions of a Unicorn (An animal with a single spiraling horn on its forehead) in his dream with a peculiar kind of song and music in the background which he has often heard his aunt humming.
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Sarman’s long cherished desire to visit the thriving city of Mohenjo Daro is repeatedly thwarted by his uncle Durjan for reasons known to him only. One day after a grand welcome by the villagers for his brave act of killing a crocodile single handedly in a nearby river gorge, Sarman once again shares his desire with Durjan to allow him to go to Mohenjo Daro as part of their village merchants to sell their farm produce ‘Indigo’. But Durjan who is overly protective and still believes that Sarman is not yet grown up to handle the wicked people of Mohenjo Daro tells him to wait for some more time.
Fresh from his new found glory and fame after killing a large carnivorous reptile, Sarman decides to escape to Mohenjo Daro discreetly along with his friend Hojo but to be caught red-handed by his uncle. Unable to stop an overly enthusiastic and curious Sarman travelling to Mohenjo Daro, Durjan finally gives the nod to go and trade with people in Mohenjo Daro their farm produce ‘Indigo’ but with a list of cautionary warnings about the dos and don’ts he need to follow while his stay in that unknown city. He also hands Sarman an amulet with an inscription of a Unicorn on it to be used with great discretion at moments of trouble only.
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What awaits Sarman and Hojo at Mohenjo Daro is a city beyond his imagination with a thriving market place with goods from far flung places like Macedonia, Sumeria and other foreign lands. Trouble becomes a constant companion the moment Sarman set his foot on the soil of Mohenjo Daro be it his first encounter with Moonja (Arunodaya Singh) the son of Maham (Kabir Bedi) the Pradhan of Mohenjo Daro or his first encounter with his would-be love the beautiful Chaani (Pooja Hegde) the daughter of the high priest of Mohenjo Daro. Sarman’s righteous attitude lands him into further confrontation with the Pradhan and his apparent heir Moonja in matters like - raising the first bugle of protest against tax hike; making public his love for Chaani who has been already vowed by the High Priest and Pradhan that she would be the bride of Moonja because she is blessed by the river Goddess Sindhu as she is believed to bring in a new dawn to Mohenjo Daro in her lifetime; joining the protest against to stall the work of building a dam that will divert the course of the river Sindhu which has already proved to be disastrous for the region and its inhabitants; and being a hindrance in the trade of weapons with Sumerians in exchange of gold deposits mined underneath the river bed.
Hrithik Roshan as Sarman is outstanding and he tries hard to salvage Ashutosh Gowariker’s ambitious project of Mohenjo Daro successfully to a great extent. It won’t be an exaggeration to tell that it would have been difficult and challenging for any other actor other than Hrithik Roshan to handle and play such a part in such a movie. Hrithik Roshan’s second venture with Ashutosh Gowariker seems to struggle hard to make a place in people’s heart because of the tremendous scrutiny and remarks around its portrayal of a particular period not well known to the public and even to those who criticize and pose as experts of that period.
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Pooja Hegde as Chaani is good but has less dialogues and little importance in scenes in taking the plot further. Though, she is mentioned repeatedly to play a major role in bringing a new dawn to Mohenjo Daro nothing substantial is shown in this regard apart from her falling in love with a pardesi and roaming around in the market place with her friend. A scene where she reveals to the people of Mohenjo Daro who Sarman actually is could have been better and more impressive.
Kabir Bedi as Pradhan and the main antagonist of the story is outstanding with his baritone voice. But God knows what has happened to his face? Is it aging or something gone wrong? Arunodaya Singh as Moonja gives a tough fight to the hero physically but is nowhere near to Hrithik Roshan when it comes to acting. Nitish Bhardwaj as Durjan leaves his mark. It is good to see him back and wish he continues to do so.
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The spectacular moments of Mohenjo Daro are – the killing of a crocodile by Sarman in a river gorge; the fight sequence of Sarman in the coliseum with Bakar and Zokar the cannibals brought from Tajik mountain by Maham; and the final scene of making of a floating bridge by tying up boats together to cross the river before the flood that washes the city away into its depths. The music maestro AR Rahman’s work is fabulous and keeps you humming the songs like Tu Hai; Sarsariya and Mohenjo Daro and other songs penned by Javed Akhtar.
In short, Mohenjo Daro need to be watched and appreciated for a daring attempt by a filmmaker who didn’t hesitate to showcase a love story in the backdrop of a civilization about which little is known. Having said this, Mohenjo Daro does make you yawn and sleepy at certain points but definitely also have moments that keep you enthused. And it’s difficult to blame the cynics and critics completely because Ashutosh Gowariker has upped the expectations of the quality of films from his stable after his spectacular projects like Swadesh, Lagaan and Jodha Akbar, therefore, hope he takes the criticism in his stride positively and come up with more challenging projects to keep us entertained. Till then Ashutosh ‘Lak Lak Thora’ !
Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 3/5
Cast: Hrithik Roshan (Sarman), Pooja Hegde (Chaani), Kabir Bedi (Maham), Arunoday Singh (Moonja), Nitish Bhardwaj (Durjan), Suhasini Mulay (Laashi), Sharad Kelkar (Surjan), Manish Choudhary (high Priest), Diganta Hazarika (Lothar)
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Producer: Siddharth Roy Kapoor, Sunita Gowariker
Written by: Preeti Mamgain (Dialogues)
Screenplay: Ashutosh Gowariker
Story: Ashutosh Gowariker
Music by: AR Rahman
Cinematography: CK Muraleedharan
Edited by: Sandeep Francis
Production Company: UTV Motion Pictures, AGPPL Productions
Distributor: Disney India
Release Date: 12th August, 2016
Duration: 150 Minutes