Mohenjo Daro Review - An Epic? Not Really, a Missed Opportunity? Most Certainly
A young lad and his friends are out on a river when they are attacked by a crocodile and Sarman
(Hrithik Roshan), the hero vanquishes the crocodile singlehandedly. They then return triumphantly
to their village, carrying the dead crocodile to show the villagers what happened and the villagers
are overjoyed seeing Sarman’s act of bravado. All this while the people speak a strange language
(after all we don’t know what was the means of communication during the days of the Indus Valley
Civilization), and that’s where director Ashustosh Gowariker comes up with a smart idea. The
camera zooms onto the lips of a character when he is mid speech (perhaps the camera even shakes
a bit) and then all of a sudden the language shifts to Hindi, remaining so for the rest of the film. Not
bad at all, after all it’s an interesting means to explain the cinematic liberty employed by the director
early into his film-Mohenjo Daro.
It’s been nearly six years since Ashutosh Gowariker has had a release and nearly two years since the
leading man Hritik Roshan has had one. They had earlier collaborated on the period drama, Jodha
Akbar (2008), which wass incidentally the last successful outing at the cinemas for Ashutosh.
Mohenjo Daro was keenly awaited because of the coming together of Ashutosh and Hrithik, also
because of the subject, after all we haven’t had a full length feature film with the Indus Valley
Civilization as the background and also for understanding if Ashutosh has it in him to make a
comeback after successive box office failures like What’s Your Raashee (2009) and Khelein Hum Jee
Jaan Sey (20100). Notwithstanding the mixed response to the promos and the music, I was hoping
that the film would see Ashutosh deliver, after all he has been adept at handling large scale projects.
Set in 2016 B.C during the time of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, Sarman, an indigo farmer
lives with his uncle (Nitish Bharadwaj) and aunt (Kishori Shahane). Haunted by visions of a unicorn
(rather a cross between a unicorn and a goat) and a tune that sounds vaguely familiar, Sarman
decides to explore the city of Mohenjo Daro. His uncle is unwilling to let him go, but finally relents.
And thus Sarman lands up in the city, losing his heart to Chaani (Pooja Hegde), daughter of the chief
priest (Manish Choudhary). Chaani is highly revered as the “chosen one”, apparently being blessed
by Sindhu Ma, the river goddess. Sarman finds to his dismay that Chaani is engaged to be married to
the evil Moonja (Arunoday Singh), the son of the tyrant Maham (Kabir Bedi). How does Sarman
manage to overcome all odds and win over his love? What his is connection with Mohenjo Daro?
Well if you really care to know the answers then the rest of the film tells you all that.
At the very outset the plot is one that’s extremely beaten to death so it was indeed required of
Ashutosh to ensure that the proceedings are kept engaging enough. Alas the screenplay does not
allow any scope for that at all. One keeps waiting for something out of the blue, something to
emerge that will showcase the strength of a director who has handled quite a few films mounted on
a large scale with relative ease. But your wait would only end up in anguish as the film fails to excite
by any means. Even A.R.Rahman’s music doesn’t manage to help, the songs either fail due to the
way they appear on screen or are plainly disappointing. C.K.Muraleedharan’s cinematography does
manage to help to an extent in giving life to the large canvas and there is a lot of effort that has gone
in to ensure the production design, costumes and styling works in a way that would do justice to this
The VFX work is clearly an outcome with mixed results, capturing the vastness of the city and the
territory nearby in all its grandeur with grace and style; however the climax portion depicting the
flood is quite a let-down visually. Preeti Mamgain’s dialogues range from the ordinary to unintentionally funny and that doesn’t help either. None of the characters manage to impress in the
film, this being another drawback. Kabir Bedi and Arunoday Singh are unidimensional while Pooja
Hegde is pretty but gets to do precious else other than walking around wearing fancy head gear.
Hrithik is earnest of course and carries off the character of Sarman quite effectively, probably the
main reason for watching the film, if at all.
Eventually what could have become a film of epic proportion only ends up being a mega
disappointment. Considering the background, the presence of an amazing lead actor/star and some
wonderful technicians on board, Mohenjo Daro will remain an opportunity that Ashutosh Gowariker
could not capitalist on unfortunately.