Oho! A plastic crocodile controlled by remote control isn’t the only opponent on the scene, dating back to 2016 BC. Beastly bozos and outlandishly head-geared usurpers of a bygone kingdom are around as well, to ensure that the audience is lulled into deep slumber.
Come to think of it, the array of designer headgear – using what looks like elephant tusks and bison horns, cool turbans, fancy feathers and plumes – are the main USP of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro. Reportedly, three years were expended by Gowariker and Co, though, on researching the ancient civilisation, which on screen, doesn’t go an inch beyond what many of us remember from school textbooks.
No novelty, no eye-openers, and above all no feel-great entertainment here. The trite love story plonked against the backdrop of squat mud homes, perilous rivers and a fight-to-the-finito arena owe more to Hollywood’s Gladiator (2000) and Troy (2004), and even to Manmohan Desai’s togas-and-sandals actioner Dharam Veer (1977). Throughout this magnum hocus pocus, the thought nags that the poor-orphan-boy-versus-wealthy-potentates could have been played out in any time zone.
And the cherry on top of the same-ole cake, is that orphan Sarman (Hrithik Roshan), the sweet lover boy — cum saviour-to-be of an oppressed Land-o-Daro — discovers that his daddy-o was once killed by the mega meanie Maham (Kabir Bedi). How Gowariker expected to sustain the viewer’s interest in this zero-size story, boggles the imagination. Surely, a purported epic requires a script of sound and fury signifying something special. Oh well, just saying.
Also baffling are Gowariker’s jejune efforts to foist on a socialist subtext. That the under-privileged shall inherit the earth is sought to be articulated through lines of dialogue, which in effect rabble-rouse, “It’s high time that we raise our hands and make them into fists.” Ouch. Or consider the orphan boy’s aam aadmi mantra that he would rather serve the people than rule over them. Sounds familiar.
Anyway just in case, you have loose time on hand this weekend, check out the gladiator-type saviour Sarman whose heart and fists go boom-boody-boom on sighting Lady Channi (Pooja Hegde). Alas and alack, she’s already been selected to serve the river goddess Sindhu Ma which means she’s hands-off territory. Ulp.
DANGER ahead: ensues plenty of slaughter and acrobatic action. Meanwhile, an inner voice within Sarman has stressed that he was destined to be at Mohenjo Daro. For recline-in-your-multiplex-seat relief, stylised songs and dances break out as they did in Gowariker’s Jodhaa-Akbar (2008). Lots of spinning around like tops here. Unflickering diyas are a bonus.
The periodic use of special effects isn’t exactly special, and the climax is such a let-down that you wonder if something went seriously wrong at the editing console.
So is Mohenjo Daro a classic case of love’s labour lost? To be fair, not entirely. The set designs and cinematography strive to transport you to a lost era, with a fair amount of success. Also, the music score by A.R. Rahman and the lyrics by Javed Akhtar do yield the inspired tracks, Sarsariya, Tu Hi Hai and the title song. Expectedly, Hrithik Roshan’s dance moves have a ‘wow effect’. Indeed, the film is worth a glimpse just for them.
Of the acting crew, Kabir Bedi and Arunoday Singh, as junior villain, fit the bill at best. Suhasini Mulay strives to exude palace intrigue of the desi Game of Thrones variety. To put it politely, Pooja Hegde, doesn’t exactly make a sensational debut, wearing a permanent smile as if she were at a beauty pageant.
Without a shadow of doubt, the film banks heavily on Hrithik Roshan’s star clout, who delivers the goods competently. Yet you can’t help feeling that as an actor he’s unchallenged. Conveying anger though a quivering face and a voice that rises to high octaves, transmitting love pangs through melting eyes, exhibiting a body beautiful and physical agility, he’s been there, done that. For sure he’s likeable as ever. The question is: has he evolved, as an actor, beyond the star we all know?
Bottom line: buy a ticket only if you’re a buff of Hrithik, Rahman and weird headgear.
Categories: Is the movie worth your buck?