Sometimes, a man can become a prisoner of his own success. He either tries turning his earlier successes into a formula for subsequent projects or genuinely starts believing that he is superior to other lesser beings.
Manoj Night Shyamalan, Ram Gopal Verma and going by the recent outings, Ashutosh Gowariker have fallen deep in this trap. Mohenjo Daro is nothing but a jaded tale of revenge of the son of a chief who avenges his father’s murder and power-grab by the villain. The story has been done several times before.To give a ‘different’ feel, Ashutosh Gowariker sets it in the Ancient Indus Valley city of Mohenjo Daro. The story starts with Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) killing a CGI-gone-wrong crocodile with a trishul (trident) to establish his physical prowess. Since the premise dates 4000 years back, they speak gibberish. Thankfully, to the viewer’s benefit, the dialect transforms to a strange mix of Hindi, Bhojpuri and Hindi sounding words – ‘sawaal’ becomes ‘suwaal’ and ‘turant’ becomes ‘tureeto’. You can guess the original for ‘hamaalkhor’. And to add to the insanity, our protagonist is intrigued by recurring dreams of a unicorn!
Anyway, Sarman lands in Mohenjo Daro against the better counsel from his ‘kaka’ (uncle) and is constantly haunted by an eerie feeling that he knows the city. He promptly falls for the main priest’s daughter Chaani (Pooja Hegde) who is betrothed to Moonja (Arunoday Singh) the bully son of the city’s ruling tyrant Maham (Kabir Bedi). Maham wants to impose higher taxes on the poor a la Gowariker’s masterpiece Lagaan and Sarman takes up cudgels on their behalf. What follows is Hrithik’s regular routine of dances (with the ladies) and fights (with Moonja and Maham’s ‘narbhakshis’) finally culminating in a brawl with Maham himself.
The story does not end here, it drags further with Sarman saving the whole population from yet another calamity and setting up a new city; and yes, whether he encounters the object of his dreams is left open ended –whatever that symbolizes.
Ancient Mohenjo Daro finds no significance even though the film’s title suggests so. The film may well have been set in present day Karnal or anywhere, fictional or non-fictional with little or no impact to the plot. History (or whatever we know of Indus Valley Civilization) has been distorted beyond recognition to fit in as the time period. It is believed that women back then were scantily clad. However our Chaani’s designer ensemble and curious choices of ‘crowns’ are barely reminiscent of the era. And what’s with Maham’s amusing headgear with horns? I think the quest for a unicorn sits well in a Harry Potter movie, not Mohenjo Daro.
The script of Mohenjo Daro seems to be penned more like children’s fiction no matter how hard Gowariker tries treating it with grown-up sensibilities. Heck, it even reminds of many subpar TV serials on Indian channels.
Of the cast, Hrithik Roshan cannot be faulted for lack of earnestness. He tries hard and gives his best in each shot. Alas, he looks too buffed up to belong to an era bereft of gyms. He does get the bronzer right though – pretty much a significance of the ‘Bronze’ age the narrative has been set in! Debutante Pooja Hegde’s lack of expressions stands out even in the little emoting that is required of her. Seriously…how deadpan can one look even when being throttled? Arunoday Singh is more silly than menacing. Kabir Bedi in a grotesque getup hams to the hilt.
With a budget over 100 crores, it is a wonder why Ashutosh Gowariker fell short of hiring a seasoned and competent scriptwriter. A good director does not necessarily make a good writer and vice versa. Mohenjo Daro ends up as Ashutosh Gowarikar’s lavish vanity and self-indulgence that tests the viewers’ patience. Certainly, a lot of box office fortune will be lost in the ruins of Mohenjo Daro!
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51217785
Rating : 1/5
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Pooja Hegde, Kabir Bedi, Arunoday Singh
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker