Mohenjo Daro: Projection of Gowariker’s inadequacies as a director

Film: Mohenjo Daro
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Pooja Hegde, Kabir Bedi, Manish Choudhary, Arunoday Singh, Kishori Shahane, Suhasini Mulay, Narendra Jha, Nitish Bharadwaj
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Ashutosh Gowariker has never quite got the hang of making a gripping, completely engaging masterpiece. ‘Lagaan’ had all its excitement concentrated on the cricketing face-off, ‘Swades’ though well-meaning, was infinitely boring while ‘Jodha Akbar,’ despite it’s well appointed battle sequences had little to capture the heart and mind of the viewer.

‘What’s Your Rashi?’ and ‘Khele Hum Jee Jaan Se’ were so lethargic and disengaging that you would have to literally chain a viewer to his seat to get him to watch it. Gowariker has had more than 20 years in this industry – starting off as an actor and then moving to direction and production and it appears that the experience hasn’t enriched him any (if you go by his dismal oeuvre). And ‘Mohenjo Daro’ really is the big banner projection of Gowariker’s inadequacies as a director.

This film was meant to be an epic love story, an adventure drama set in an ancient civilization circa 2016 BCE to be precise and has Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) , an indigo farmer from Amri, Sindh, following his dreams to a destination that is totally alien to his knowledge and understanding. It’s called Mohenjo Daro and it’s a neatly facilitated city with its inhabitants living on two basic levels- the upper level, earmarked for people designated as higher-ups and the lower city for the lower class.

Sarman, finds it quite easy to infiltrate the upper city and try and woo his lady love, Chaani (Pooja Hegde), the high-priest (Manish Choudhary)’s motherless daughter who happens to be the designate chosen one of Sindhu Maa the All powerful Goddess of those times. Sarman goes through the  stereotypical Bollywood tropes that begins with falling in love at first sight with an alien unattainable princess type, rescuing the said damsel in distress, rousing up the people against injustice , felling off villains twice his size and basically managing to win back his rightful inheritance which his father Sujan (Sharad Kelkar) lost – and there’s more.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s story, screenplay and helming is totally devoid of vigour and vitality, fashioned as it is on oft-repeated Bollywood formula and severely lacking in nuance and depth. The narrative lethargy is severely cramping. The timelines are messed up, the performances lack integrity (save for Kabir Bedi who appears to have relished his entitled villainy), the music is out-of-place, dance choreography is far too coordinated to be believable, costumes look like hand-woven designer wear and production design, CGI, camerawork and other technical specs are far short of accomplished. A. R. Rahman’s music is also extremely disappointing- Just too many instruments and lacking in distinctive harmony to be affecting. This one is an epic disaster just waiting to be washed out of the theatres.

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