You have been living under a rock if you do not know about Mohenjo Daro – Ashutosh Gowariker’s latest magnum opus. Ashutosh Gowariker seems to be travelling further in history with every film. I imagine how tough this must have been to research and maintain authenticity. A civilisation that was wiped away in 19th century BCE and has only been reconstructed by logical deductions of scholars is truly an enigma. I remember a dreary history lesson in high school where my teacher addressed a class of half asleep teens saying, “Very little is known about the people, the culture and the society of the Indus Valley civilisation.” A smart alec shot back asking, “Then why are we studying about it?” Mohenjo Daro and Harrappa are stuck in my head precisely because of this anecdote. Watching the movie, I was reminded of this dialogue again. You know why? Because throughout the film, I kept wondering – why Mohenjo Daro? why not pre independence India?
I would really like to ask Ashutosh Gowariker what made him set this story in Mohenjo Daro
Mohenjo Daro Plot
The film revolves around Sarman – an Indigo farmer who arrives in the city of Mohenjo Daro, an administrative and trade powerhouse. He is awed by the society there and falls in love with a girl. The subsequent events show him fighting against the tyrannical head and causing an uprising
Mohenjo Daro – Music
Like all of A R Rahman’s music, Mohenjo Daro’s soundtrack too grows on you. The melodious Tu Hai or the peppy title track are both pleasant to listen to. Rahman creates a signature piece that is used in various places in the film, including the background score. The music is not intrusive nor it is extraordinary genius that one expects from Rahman.
Mohenjo Daro – Story, Screenplay & Dialogues
The story is a typical poor boy meets rich girl story complete with the tyrannical king. There is nothing here that you have not seen or heard before. For me, the story failed to grip me. The screenplay was so slow that 45 minutes into the film, you still see the context being set. The film opens with a crocodile fight that belongs more in fantasy fiction than in a period film. The supposed mystery around Hrithik’s character seems like a halfhearted attempt. I was most confused by the dialogues though. There was shuddh hindi mixed with hindustani and even some rajasthani touch. I know that the language of the Indus valley civilisation is not known to us today. Could the script writers then not have stuck to a single form rather than mixing them up?
Mohenjo Daro – Characters
Mohenjo Daro is a one man show. Hrithik occupies almost every frame in the film and carries the entire film on his shoulders. His character is the most etched out and he stays true to the morally upright, kindhearted and helpful guy throughout. The female protagonist is a spunky girl torn between a duty she did not choose and her own desires. Kabir Bedi as the oppressive ruler is impressive, but his character is too one dimensional. Actors like Suhasini Mule are wasted in blink and you will miss characters.
Mohenjo Daro – Costumes
The common folk wear cotton clothing that is rough, with mostly earthy colours like beige and brown and an occassional blue thrown in. Even the basic research on Mohenjo Daro reveals that people wore very little clothing at that time. Understandably, a film can not have people prancing about in the nude – but tailored pants and layered tunics? And what does Pooja wear? Elaborately embroidered, embellished and flowing garments that are more suited to the modern day ramp than a BC era period film. I don’t have as much problem with the thigh high slits and cleavage as with the bell sleeves and mirror detailing. The creative freedom in costumes comes at the cost believability of that period.
Mohenjo Daro – Authenticity
The most amount of research and effort seems to have gone into re creating the massive sets and props. While the planned city of Mohenjo Daro with its brick houses is well made, I felt everything was a little too refined, a little too polished. The pool for example in the song Tu Hai has such pristine white edges. The metal seals seemed most authentic with animal motifs and symbols similar to the excavated artefacts. The dam on the river looks almost cemented and the gold nuggets shine with polished perfection.
Mohenjo Daro – Final Thoughts
To conclude, I am an inch short of calling this movie an insult to people’s intelligence. This boy meets girl story is something that could have been set anywhere and Mohenjo Daro fades into the backdrop. We don’t get an idea of the cultural nuances of the period save for court scenes. The pace drags and even with his good looks and sincere acting, Hrithik does not manage to save the film.