He is returning after a gap of six years. But whenever filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker is involved, one can rest assured that time spent waiting is not time wasted. Releasing this Friday, Ashu’s upcoming film Mohenjo Daro has already created quite an impact in movie-goers’ minds with the trailer and the music. So while we know how excited the audiences are, we ask how excited the filmmaker himself is.
“Very excited and I have an intense anticipation for how it will go,” says Ashu, who reveals that Mohenjo Daro is very special to him, and that it is different from his previous movies.
“In both Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar, there was a reference point. Every one knew the British Raj and every one had some reference point to Akbar, but with Mohenjo Daro, there is very little — only vague ideas of what one has read in textbooks at school. The trick is to match that vague imagination.”
Unlike his previous subjects, there is not much research material regarding Mohenjo Daro. So how did he navigate the subject? Ashu says, “I have left it to the audience’s interpretation. For example, with Jodhaa Akbar, there were two primary books — Abu-Al-Fazal’s Akbarnama and Badayuni’s Mutakhabutawarikh.
They had different interpretations, but I used them both.” Ashu argues that it is quite the same case with Mohenjo Daro. “There are archaeologists, who have worked on the excavation site for 40 years. Someone in Rakhigarhi and Kalibangan or Lothal will have a different interpretation from the rest. But as a filmmaker, I can’t navigate several paths at once. I had to choose one path. So chose Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, whose theories I liked. So I wrote him a mail and he was thrilled that someone was finally making a film on the subject. I invited him over and called over five Indian researchers too and they gave me material.
They all had their own study of pottery, jewellery, city-planning and architecture. I took that material because I knew that part I could do justice to. Another example is in the song Tu Hai, where the Great Bath I’ve reconstructed is the same size as the original with the same type and size of bricks. But there has to be fiction. Even in Lagaan, the British Raj part was correct, but no one knew Bhuwan. So my fiction is the character in that real world. The archaeologists’ work is to excavate and finding things. But it is not their work to say whom it belongs to. I have done that in my film and have got the go ahead from the researchers.”
Why choose Mohenjo Daro for a love story, we ask. Ashu is quick to reply, “We see the Greek and Egyptian civilisations with awe because Hollywood has immortalised them. However, Bollywood has never showcased the IVC (Indus Valley Civilisation), which is our own civilisation. Cinema is a strong medium and we understand things better if shown in the movies. That was my only reason for making a movie on the IVC.”
His lead actor, Hrithik is making the right noise with his look in the film. But what was playing on Hrithik’s mind when he heard the script? Recollecting the meeting, he says, “Hrithik’s first question was what language will the film use. He asked if he is going to speak a different language. I said no, we are making it in Hindi and I don’t want to alienate the audience by including any other language.”