Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Pooja Hegde, Kabir Bedi, Arunoday Singh
Much has been spoken about Ashutosh Gowariker’s magnum opus Mohenjo Daro, even before its release. Critics and fans alike — for its factual inaccuracies — panned the trailer of the movie. Considering the buzz around the film, Mohenjo Daro suffered low occupancy in its opening show. And thanks to its clash against Akshay Kumar’s Rustom, Mohenjo Daro has faced a bummed show overall.
Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) is an indigo farmer, in a small village Amri located in Sindh. He loses his parents in a mishap years before the setting of the movie and is raised by his uncle Durjan (Nitish Bharadwaj) and Kaki (Kishori Shahane). Sarman pleads his guardians to let him travel to the ancient heritage city Mohenjo Daro for business. After rejecting him several times, Durjan and Kaki agree to send Sarman to the city, accompanied by his cousin. The moment he reaches the city, he discovers a whole new world. Out of curiosity, Sarman tries to know the more and explore the city. Meanwhile, he comes across the beautiful Chaani (Pooja Hegde) who is the daughter of the priest (Manish Choudhary) and falls in love with her.
Maham (Kabir Bedi) and his son Munja (Arunoday Singh) are brutal rulers of the city, who have planned to spread slavery and misery among the people. Their plans shatter when Sarman comes in the rescue of the city. In the series of incidents, Sarman also comes across his bitter past that turns his life upside down.
Known for the aggressive research of his films, Ashutosh steals the show. After his last two duds 'Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey' and 'What’s Your Rashee', he’s remained successful in getting back the trust he lost during these two films. The film looks grand and the era he created in 2016 BCE is commendable. However, he fails in telling a story since the plot is weak. The male protagonist fighting for his love and his protesting against the rotten system is all what you get to see in 'Mohenjo Daro'.
Hrithik as Sarman is enjoyable in parts. His opening shot in middle of the river and rescuing himself from a giant crocodile is jaw dropping and one must give kudos to the VFX in this scene. As the male lead, he is quite flawless in hauling the film on his own shoulder single-handedly. But, as mentioned before, the film lacks a fresh plot and Hrithik’s win over the villain is predictable. Debutante Pooja Hegde is a surprise package of the film. She looks promising and surely holds a future in Bollywood. Playing a girl from an ancient world wasn’t an easy task for her to execute but she impresses in every possible manner. One must doff their hat to the captain of the ship who is known for giving breaks to his female leads, be it Gracy Singh or Gayatri Joshi.
Kabir as the violent king is noticeable and Arunoday has done justice to his baddie image. The rest of the cast, which includes Suhasini Mulay, Nitish Bharadwaj, Manish Choudhary are suitable in their respective roles.
When AR Rahman composes for a movie, expectations are bound to be high. Unfortunately, the soundtrack doesn’t live up to its expectations, except the graceful Tu Hai, sung by the maestro himself. The title track too stands out for its celebratory mood.
The movie has some good aerial shots by KC Muraleedharan too. The runtime at 150 minutes is a huge relief, since Gowariker tends to have lengthy movies. The first half, however, was a tad too long, compared to the crisp second half. Ashutosh may have found a new way of filmmaking, but credit goes to Sandeep Francis who has run his scissors neatly through the movie, making it taut.
It doesn’t help, however, that the movie is clichéd. Telling a story of 2016 BCE in the present day can be problematic if it’s not made well, and that’s Mohenjo Daro’s downfall. The movie is also reminiscent of 'Kites', which is a revenge saga, with an urban backdrop.
Watch 'Mohenjo Daro' if you’re still stuck in the ‘80s or ‘90s, or just enjoy a steaming mug of coffee in the rains instead.