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Ashutosh Gowariker’s “Mohenjo Daro” is supposed to be a historical epic that recreates one of the oldest-known civilizations and one that can still give us important lessons on democracy, the environment and good governance. Unfortunately, those lessons hardly get a chance to come to the fore, hidden behind tacky sets and a singularly one-toned film that never manages to create enough drama or entertainment.
Hrithik Roshan plays Sarman, a farm boy who is drawn to the far-off land of Mohenjo Daro. But what he finds is a land on the decline, devoid of most natural resources and run by the tyrannical chief Maham (Kabir Bedi), who is determined to mine all the gold in his kingdom to buy weapons.
Sarman falls in love with Chaani (Pooja Hegde), the doe-eyed daughter of the chief priest. When he realises that she is betrothed to Maham’s son Moonja (Arunoday Singh), our hero decides that putting an end to Maham’s reign of terror is the only way to get his lady-love and free the land.
The narrative plays out predictably, plodding from one contrived plot point to the other. What makes it worse is that the production values and CGI budget in this film are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Throughout its 155-minute runtime, “Mohenjo Daro” looks like a 80s film mistakenly released in 2016. For a film that aimed to recreate one of the oldest and biggest civilizations on earth, the film lacks scale and vision. S S Rajamouli’s “Bahubali” didn’t have a very original story, but where it delivered was in terms of the look and feel.
Gowariker’s film feels average, and no amount of songs by A R Rahman or Hrithik Roshan’s acting prowess can change that. The actors seem to have imbibed the same middling quality that permeates the film. Kabir Bedi’s expressions would give Esha Gupta’s gestures in “Rustom” a run for their money. Arunoday Singh as Moonja makes his effort to act so painfully obvious that you cannot wait for the camera to be off him, while debutant Pooja Hegde does little to distinguish herself in the acting department.
Even though Hrithik Roshan appears in almost every frame and brings his natural screen presence to the film, he is a shadow of his normal self, bogged down by a weak script, terrible production values and a lack of vision from the man who once made some of Bollywood’s grandest movies.