Saturday, 13 August 2016


Bottomline : In my review of Bajirao Mastani last year, I extolled the virtues of Jodha Akbar by citing how it served as a template for an ideal period film in terms of the sheer craft and exemplary directing skills brought alive on the large screen. Perhaps, the first person who needs a review of that gem is director Ashutosh Gowariker himself. Even when judged as a standalone film, Mohenjo Daro is a bloated mess of a film which is tried so hard to be kept afloat by its leading man that you can't
help pity the snoozefest he's trapped in.

Review : Bollywood of 2016, so far, has been a mixed bag of hits and misses, with colossal disappointments dominating low-budget pleasant surprises. Coming on the heels of two duds ,i.e., What's Your Rashee and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se, Gowariker looked all set to make a strong comeback and silence his critics who may have already written him off the list of visionary filmmakers. As it turns out to be, though, Mohenjo Daro does nothing but further warrant the accusation that, possibly, he's lost the knack of telling layered, engaging stories with remarkable panache. It is hard to believe that a director who extracted such terrific performances from the entire cast of Lagaan, Swades and Jodha Akbar may have overlooked the hammy and contrived acting in Mohenjo Daro. Still, nothing is more inexcusable than the antiquated script that appears to have been recycled from so many films of the past, ultimately rendering the film soulless and spiritless.

Now, the duration (or running time, if you make like to call it) has always been a bone of contention with Gowariker's films. To be frank, even the daunting length of 3.5 hours of Jodha Akbar or Lagaan was never a big issue because of the captivating storytelling and mind blowing songs that kept you hooked to film till the end credits rolled. But, in Mohenjo Daro, even a shorter duration of 2.5 hours itself appears to be a lifetime. It is generally said that the quality of a soundtrack is directly proportional to the composer's perception of the potential of the script to turn into something special, which probably explains why A.R. Rahman's soundtrack of Mohenjo Daro, too, ends up being rather mediocre and uninspiring.

Surely, this is the story of one of the largest urban settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization, and while it is amply evident that Gowariker and team have put in enormous efforts to recreate 2016 BC, there is nothing which the film educates us on which we haven't studied in our history textbooks. Instead, the film is centered on an insipid love story between its leads and a banal revenge saga involving Kabir Bedi and Arunoday Singh as the typical stock villains who fail to create any impression whatsoever. In pursuit of a fresh face for the leading lady, the makers have miscast Pooja Hegde, who looks pretty but emotes only as much as a log of wood.

It is, then, up to Hrithik Roshan to lend even the slightest of credibility to a film laden with cliches and caricatures. He rises up to the situation and delivers an earnest, sincere performance which, despite being circumscribed by a shallow screenplay, is the only reason why you should even consider watching this film.

I'm going with 2/5 for Mohenjo Daro. An excerpt from Wikipedia page on Mohenjo Daro goes like this: "The site is currently threatened by erosion and improper restoration". I guess another imminent threat is from improper depiction of the site through disinterested film-making.