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Film review: Mohenjo Daro is a good film but squanders its potential

If you want to get the most enjoyment from the film, our best advice is not to think of it as a historical drama and instead look at it as a run-off-the-mill romance that happens to be set in ancient times.
A handout movie still of "Mohenjo Daro" showing Hrithik Roshan (Courtesy: UTV Motion Pictures)
A handout movie still of "Mohenjo Daro" showing Hrithik Roshan (Courtesy: UTV Motion Pictures)

Mohenjo Daro

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Pooja Hegde, Kabir Bedi, Arunoday Singh

Three stars

You know when you see a film that you really want to like but find it hard to muster much enthusiasm because you have seen it all before? Mohenjo Daro is that kind of movie.

The visuals are stunning – which is unsurprising, given that it was directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. He clearly spends a lot of time perfecting the details – of the film’s sets, if not the story.

While Mohenjo Daro doesn’t quite come match the rustic visual appeal of the Oscar-nominated Lagaan or the grandeur of Jodhaa Akbar, it is still a very good-looking film indeed.

In 2016BC farmer Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) travels from his village to the big city, Mohenjo Daro – in modern-day Sindh, Pakistan – to make his fortune.

On reaching the oddly named city (it translates as Mound of the Dead, though this is not the name the locals of the time used – that original name is lost to time), Sarman discovers that the city is experiencing a terrible recession at the hands of its despotic ruler, Maham (Kabir Bedi).

In the grand fashion of filmi heroes, whichever century they inhabit, Sarman falls in love with Chaani (Pooja Hegde), a woman betrothed to Maham’s son, Moonja (Arunoday Singh). This adds a romantic angle to his attempts to save Mohenjo Daro and its people from Maham and his cronies, their back-breaking taxes and deadly whims.

If you want to get the most enjoyment from the film, my best advice is not to think of it as a historical drama and instead look at it as a run-off-the-mill romance that happens to be set in ancient times.

The historical aspects serve only as narrative device, one that allows characters to wear strange headgear and many styles of dhotis.

On the plus side, the lead pairing of Roshan and Hegde do a better-than-average job. Hegde’s energy complements Roshan’s experienced ease and charm, making for some very watchable on-screen chemistry. Bedi hams it up a little as the villain, but is not utterly objectionable.

And then of course, there are all the loving shots that linger appreciatively on Roshan’s gloriously tanned and muscled form.

If only the story hadn’t been so muddled with overly simplistic dialogue and formulaic situations, Mohenjo Daro could have been a great film. As it stands, much of the potential has been squandered.

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: August 13, 2016 04:00 AM

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