Before we dive into the review itself, let’s pause for a moment and take a look at the kind of cinema Gowariker has made over the years. Although he is not one of the most prolific directors in B-town, his creative acumen established Indian Cinema in the elusive corridors of the west taking us to the mainstream world audience. Suddenly there was this reclusive Indian director who dared to bring new ideas to an audience which devoured formulaic masala films. He found stories buried in the forgotten pages of history and brought them to life in a way that not only entertained but strived to make a thumping point. Bhuvan from Lagaan not only defeated the English at their own game but also brought his people together breaking the age-old caste barriers. Mohan from Swades showed how much can be achieved if there is a will for change. From such deep social subjects, Gowariker’s penchant for history brought Jodhaa Akbar on screen. Despite its historical inaccuracies, the production value was immense in its execution and one could not deny that it was made beautifully. However, Jodhaa Akbar was the beginning of Gowariker’s gradual inclination towards presenting a character-centric story from an earlier subject-centric cinema.
Jodhaa Akbar was the beginning of Gowariker’s gradual inclination towards presenting a character-centric story from an earlier subject-centric cinema.
Mohenjo Daro marks his return to historical period cinema after the brief hiatus with Whats your Rashee and Khelein hum jee jaan sey. Based on a city established in the 26th century BC during the properous Harappan civilization, Mohenjo Daro is a story reminiscent of the rise and fall of the mighty Roman empire. When we first heard that Gowariker was working on this project, we were excited as no one had ever touched upon this subject. We knew almost nothing about a civilization, we love to brag about.
From the very first sequence, it is understood that this narrative was going to revolve around Sarman, played by Hrithik, who is a saviour of sorts in his village where he has been raised by his father’s brother and his wife. He keeps having this strange dream wherein he sees a large city and a one-horned deer Eksingha, eerily like the glowing patronus from the Harry Potter films. When he mentions this to his uncle, he is asked to forget about it and stop thinking about visiting the great city of Mohenjo-Daro. One day seeing Sarman’s unwavering desire to go, his uncle gives him a bronze token having the very same Eksingha engraved in it. This is where it becomes apparent that Sarman is no ordinary man and his destiny is somehow tied to that of Mohenjo-Daro.
Gowariker’s rendition of the city is close to what we know about it so far from history books. We see a planned city with multi-storeyed buidlings, time-keeping devices, systematic book-keeping and an open culture which accomodates traders from all over the world. And mind you we are talking about 2016 BC if we go by the movie. We know very little about how the people looked or what kind of clothes they wore which allowed Gowariker to take creative liberties without raising the usual ruckus that we see for more popular historical characters. Mohenjo-Daro, like any great city at its peak, is riddled with modern day issues such as corruption at the top where power-hungry bureucrats are amassing bronze age weapons from the Middle East where the Bronze Age arrived 200 years earlier. Yes, we checked on Wikipedia. Points to you Gowariker!
However, Mohenjo-Daro is not without its flaws. The screenplay seems to move quickly without feeling fluid and you feel that the story is being rushed to the more important parts so much so that it feels opera-esque and not in a good way.The character development lacks the finesse that we saw in the earlier classics. Although Sarman understands the problems in the city, he appears to be a part-time activist when most of his attention is focussed on the Priest’s daughter Chaani played by newbie Pooja Hegde. This angle does nothing better than to downplay the character’s importance in the grand scheme of things. Well, it would have still been appealing if there was some chemistry between the two but that was missing as well.
Having said that, Mohenjo-Daro does have some interesting points to make. The rise of a governance which is run by the people, fair trade practices without class discrimination and justice for all are some of the ideas that are appealing even in present day.
When masterpieces like Swades fail to make money at the box office, directors are forced to include elements that appeal to the larger audience thus, diluting what could have been a thoughful and novel story.
Mohenjo-Daro is not an endearing classic that we are used to experiencing in Gowariker’s work. But somehow the fault lies in us as an audience too. When masterpieces like Swades fail to make money at the box office, directors are forced to include elements that appeal to the larger audience thus, diluting what could have been a thoughful and novel story.
gobblpoint: Watch it for a bold effort in narrating a story based on an era about which we know almost nothing about.
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