Mohenjo Daro Review: The film starts with a disclaimer stating it does not claim any authenticity of history, and that Mohenjo Daro’s history itself is a victim of various theories, none of which are verified with 100% accuracy. Once you understand this and choose to watch the civilization in the film as merely fictional that happens to carry the name Mohenjo Daro, you are set for a beautiful artistic journey on celluloid. And Mohenjo Daro is also the story of ‘GREED’ – the cornerstone of human civilization, its rise, and eventually its meteoric fall as well. I am no historian, and not bothered with it within the premise of this film. Let’s talk about the film now – if you are still stuck on the history lesson, you can stop reading right here.
Mohenjo Daro Review: In fact the story of Mohenjo Daro can be the story of Mumbai, Delhi, New York, London, Rome or any other big commercial city of the world. Before objecting to the film’s content, let’s take a minute to think and thank Ashutosh Gowarikar for his imagination; for taking an ancient civilization as the anchor to drive a message – that in our blind race towards making money and so-called societal ‘development’ we are eventually playing with nature and this earth. And one day nature will retaliate and all of this will be gone, starting with natural resources becoming a scarcity, which we are already witnessing.
So the basic story premise is of a man called Sarman (Hrithik Roshan), who stays in Aamer, but longs for a visit to Mohenjo Daro, the commercial capital of his state. You can draw parallels her with Aamer being a small village around one of our flourishing cities like Mumbai or Delhi, and Sarman can be you or me, wanting to explore the so called ‘developed’ places on this earth. But Sarman is discouraged by his uncle Durjan (Nitish Bhardwaj). Remembr Krishna from B R Chopra’s Mahabharat. But adamant as Sarman is, he has decided, and wants to be in Mohenjo Daro. Fine, says his uncle warning him about the pitfalls and concerns – just like a farmer or villager today would be warned before he leaves for a city to make a living. And Durjan hands over to him a seal stating it is to be used only when it’s gravely important to do so.
Sarman lands up at the gate of Mohenjo Daro – and this is when he witnesses a structured, gated community with predefined rules, systematically built homes with one above the other (the flat format). He is impressed. Now picture that farmer who gets down on a city station, and is overwhelmed by all so many people around, buildings, cars etc. That childlike excitement takes over Sarman, and his eyes fall on Chaani (Pooja Hegde) – let’s call it love at first sight. Nothing works like a cliche statement. Chaani is daughter of the town’s priest, considered as a blessing from Sindhu river that is worshiped as Goddess for its water that nourishes human lives in Mohenjo Daro.
At this point of the film enter the rulers of Mohenjo Daro – Mahaam (Kabir Bedi) and his son Moonja (Arunoday Singh) – who are no more than dictators or you call also call them our modern-day politicians. The ones who lure the common man with false promises of big dreams and ‘development’, only to loot them later on, and impose heavy taxes to fulfill their own personal desires. Sarman and Chaani’s passion and love become the trigger for Sarman’s involvement in Mohenjo Daro’s politics. Here I would like to thank the makers for bringing that one-dimensional villain back to Hindi films. There is nothing good or even decent about Mahaam and Moonja. They are BAD PEOPLE. Period!
This romance leads the story into sub plots where we see Maham’s wicked dream of waging a war against the neighbouring Harappa to seek a personal revenge. Maham has been secretly exchanging Mohenjo Daro’s gold for advanced weapons made from metal. Dos this ring a bell – isn’t US or any big country in the world doing this today, and there are cries by activists for the kind of money being spent on this, and how all that money can help build schools or hospitals. These minute observations will show you why Mohenjo Daro deserves to be seen and understood. Mahaam has also built a dam on Sindhu river, changing the direction of water, leading to dry fields in Mohenjo Daro. Sounds similar yet again in today’s premise. From hereon, the film is about people versus rulers, good versus bad – leading to the climax featuring a great flood that threatens Mohenjo Daro, and how Sarman saves the people of the town by building a bridge across the river.
Whether it is the opening battle between Sarman and crocodile, or the amazing ‘Gladiator’ style fight between Sarman and two beasts – the execution of action sequences is flawless and tightly edited. The Indus Vally civilization has been recreated with great production value, and detailed set designing.
Hrithik Roshan shines throughout the film as Sarman – he has lived the character every minute of his presence in screen. Pooja Hegde’s debut is not what she would have expected. She has less to do, and her acting limitations dampen the potential of some otherwise strong scenes and dialogues. Kabir Bedi acts through his menacing eyes – this is perfect casting. Arunoday Singh does a fabulous job as Moonja, and acts out his evils with a sincere flow. A R Rahman’s music adds to the charm of the film’s setting, and transports you 4000 years back with some sharp notes.
This is by far Ashutosh Gowarikar’s most commercial film – as in you can see that there is a formula here, a recipe that is being served. Some action thrill, romantic numbers, some melodrama, return of the villain, hero taking on the bad and ugly, stunning sets, building background musical crescendos.
By leveraging history, its lessons and connecting it to the present, Gowariker offer an intriguing and social-political drama, taking cues from an intensely debated period of history, bringing it in to our troubled times. Mohenjo Daro is a film far from perfect, but it is not deserving of the memes and jokes doing the rounds. If I were to take a guess on what failed Mohenjo Daro the most – it has to be its product positioning and marketing. If you don’t know what is being served how will you crave it. They showed us a bad trailer, which was not fitting for a film that had so much more to offer.