Set in 2016 BC at the height of Indus Valley Civilization, the story of Mohenjo Daro follows a farmer Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) who travels to the city of Mohenjo Daro and falls in love with a high-status woman Chaani (Pooja Hegde), and who must then challenge the city’s elite, and fight against overwhelming odds to save their civilization. Ashutosh Gowariker took over three years to research and develop the script, working closely with archaeologists to ensure authenticity in the representation of his fictional story.
I was very sad watching this near 3-hour bum-test, not because it is a poor movie, but because it is a poor movie made by Gowariker. This is the man who made Lagaan (2001) and Swades (2004), he is no amateur, he definitely knows how to make epic movies. However his latest is the ultimate pandering to populism exercise, nothing here feels original. Mohenjo Daro just sucked from the get-go with a ridiculous scene of a leaping crocodile. Never mind the iffy CGI, the moment I see a jumping crocodile the movie will need to take a lot of effort to immerse me in its story again, and it never did. Yes, the set design may look spectacular but it isn’t something that is better than say any episode of Game of Thrones and for all the effort that Gowariker spent on the set design and costumes, he should have spent more time with the storytelling instead. This is as bland and tasteless as they come. My mind mapped out every emotional beat 5 minutes ahead of time and I just hate it when I am 100% correct. Everything here looks like it copied from other movies, from biblical movies to epic dramas. The costumes are a point in comedy – Chaani, the Chosen One (actually I don’t even know what she is chosen for) is a Hall and Oates Maneater, a traffic stopper, she will make your mouth hang open like a dog waiting for treats, but she is in the most ridiculous garb – a push-up bra, a valley opening all the way from the throat to the navel and slits in her skirt that reach her inner thighs. If that’s not the worst, she has the most ludicrous head-dress that rivals Queen Amidala. How can she act with the weight on her head? The villains are archetypal carbon-copies. Yes, a sneer here tells me he is a bad guy, a pouted face tells me he wants to kill good guys and a horned crown as wild as his shoulders should make me pee in my pants. The fight between Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) and Moonja (Arunoday Singh) is terribly and lazily choreographed – one punch the other three times and the role is reversed, the sequence repeats a few times. The same old fight I have seen thousands of times in B-grade movies. Demise of characters feels like punctuations in a laboriously long one-note script. Who writes villains like this, not Gowariker please. But you know what, I just cannot blame the actors. To be fair to them, they do look like they try really hard to push jewels out of the script, but no amount of effort can accord a miracle. The writing is just plain lazy. 3 hours is sheer punishment. The towering watery climax does feel inspired, but by then it just couldn’t lift the movie from the six feet under pit that was dug by a crazy crocodile.
This one is DOA.
2 / 5
PS – I apologise for the lack of paragraphs. I only wanted to dissuade anyone from wasting time with this, but the words just poured out. Don’t let the trailer fool you.