Mohenjo Daro is easily one of the most highly anticipated films of 2016. Boasting extravagant visuals and the deadly combination of Ashutosh Gowariker and Hrithik Roshan, Mohenjo Daro is an appropriate ode (on August 15th, Indian independence day) to the nation’s and world’s ancient civilization.
The film opens with a spectacular introduction to our hero Sarman (Hrithik Roshan), an indigo farmer in the small village of Amri. Sarman travels to Mohenjo Daro to trade in the bazaars but eventually discovers his long lasting connection to the city, not to mention finding the love of his life Chaani (Pooja Hegde). The movie traverses through the romance between Sarman and Chaani, as well as Sarman’s entanglements with Maham (Kabir Bedi), the chief of Mohenjo Daro, and the city’s politics.
One thing that never fails to impress in Ashutosh Gowariker films is the cinematography. In conjunction with the director, cinematographer C.K. Muraleedharan has done an amazing job transporting viewers into the world of Mohenjo Daro in 2016 B.C. The climax flooding scene was particularly prolific, realistically capturing how ancient civilizations may have perished.
Needless to say, a tremendous amount of effort is involved in creating a film project of this magnitude. From set design and art direction to costuming and choreography, the makers of Mohenjo Daro have worked very hard to recreate something we can only imagine or dream of while studying history. The interweaving of the Sindhu script and other languages from neighboring regions and civilizations was interesting and made the film seem more realistic. A.R. Rahman’s haunting background score and addictive music helped to bring alive Gowariker’s vision of Mohenjo Daro’s artistic culture. This was complemented by Raju Khan’s unique choreography, infusing tribal and Indian classical elements with bits and pieces from Egyptian and Sumerian styles of dance.
While the film was a visual treat, overall the plot could have been more cohesive and paced better. In an attempt to please diverse audiences and include several genres (romance, action, drama, historical fiction), each section seemed to flow well within itself. However, in the process, it seemed more like a collection of related short stories and did not have an overarching story as such. At the same time, this did not detract from what the film had to offer; it was still entertaining.
Coming to the acting performances, Mohenjo Daro is an out-and-out Hrithik Roshan film; he was perfect for the role and essayed it well. It goes without saying that Kabir Bedi is an experienced actor and he was great as the greedy, revenge-hungry ruler of Mohenjo Daro. Pooja Hegde is beautiful but the script had little to offer for her character despite being “The Chosen One”. Perhaps a more experienced actress would have allowed the director to create a stronger characterization of Chaani, highlighting autonomy and courage.
Final Verdict: Mohenjo Daro is visually stunning, musically haunting, and historically based but not necessarily accurate. It has the stamp of a quintessential Ashutosh Gowariker movie, resembling his past track record of Lagaan, Swades, and Jodhaa Akbar. Definitely worth watching on the big screen, at least to appreciate and admire all the hard work that has gone into making this movie!