UTV Motion Pictures and Ashutosh Gowariker Productions Pvt. Ltd.’s Mohenjo Daro (UA) is, as the title suggests, a period film set in the era of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa civilisations.
Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) lives in Amrey village with his paternal uncle (Nitish Bharadwaj) and aunt (Kishori Shahane-Vij). One night, he dreams of a one-horned animal and is intrigued by it because he has never seen such an animal in his life.
Since some years, Sarman has been seeking permission from his uncle to go to Mohenjo Daro which is the hub of all trading activity of nearby villages. His uncle has invariably dissuaded him from going to Mohenjo Daro but this year, he literally forces the uncle to grant him permission.
In Mohenjo Daro with his bosom pal (Umang Vyas), Sarman falls head over heels in love with Chaani (Pooja Hegde) who is the daughter of the priest (Manish Chaudhry). Chaani also develops great fondness for him. Sarman soon learns that the chief of Mohenjo Daro, Maham (Kabir Bedi), is a tyrant who exploits his subjects. Sarman revolts against the hike in tax proposed by Maham, and the exploited villagers are only too glad to join forces with him.
To Sarman’s shock, he realises that Chaani’s marriage had been fixed with Maham’s arrogant son, Munja (Arunoday Singh), right at the time of her birth. One day, Maham and his son catch Sarman and Chaani together red-handed. Maham asks his men to kill Sarman as a punishment but relents when the priest (Chaani’s father) asks him to forgive Sarman. However, he throws Sarman a challenge – his life would be spared if and only if he would defeat two ferocious men, Bakar and Zokar. Sarman accepts the challenge, adding that if he indeed defeated Bakar and Zokar, he would be permitted to marry Chaani.
Chaani’s father soon makes a confession before Sarman, which shakes him. In the confession are also hidden answers which Sarman was seeking to the many questions in his mind. For instance, why had he dreamt about the one-horned animal? Why had he always wanted to visit Mohenjo Daro? Why was his uncle invariably hesitant to send him to Mohenjo Daro? Why, on arriving at Mohenjo Daro, had he felt close to the village despite the fact that he had come there for the first time?
Does Sarman finally marry Chaani or does Munja get Chaani’s hand in marriage? Is Sarman able to stop the atrocities of Maham? Is Sarman able to permanently win the confidence of the villagers of Mohenjo Daro?
Ashutosh Gowariker has written a period drama dating back to the Mohenjo Daro era. His story does not have much relevance for today’s audience. Besides, the story, even otherwise, is so devoid of exciting drama that it leaves the audience feeling completely alienated from it. In sum, his story is dull, dry, drab and insipid. Ashutosh Gowariker’s screenplay is boring, to say the least. The romance completely fails to touch the heart – and this, considering that the girl is a fresh face, is a big minus point. Emotions and comedy/humour are conspicuous by their absence. The drama between Sarman and Maham is so lacklustre that the audiences simply don’t feel involved. Frankly, the entire film looks unreal – and that is not just because of the period (era) with which the viewers are unable to relate. The real reason for the feeling of fakeness is that the screenplay seems to be a half-hearted job. It almost seems as if the entire concentration of the writer was on recreating an era gone by and, in the process, very little thought seems to have gone into creating an exciting story or drama. Even when the priest reveals all to Sarman, the audience feels no emotions towards Sarman. The last half hour of the film is something the viewer is not keen on watching, if only because its relevance is revealed too late in the day – just some minutes earlier. In short, the audiences are not prepared for the last half hour of the film, which, despite being well-shot, fails to impress, involve or engage them. All in all, Ashutosh Gowariker’s story and screenplay are pathetic and end up testing the viewer’s patience because nothing really touches his heart.
Preeti Mamgain’s dialogues are good at a couple of places only, but are otherwise too commonplace to be true. The high-flown Hindi used in the dialogues is an added disadvantage.
Hrithik Roshan does reasonably well but he fails to cast a magical spell on the audience. Except in the action scene with the two ferocious persons, Bakar and Zokar, his performance does not stand out, largely because of the dull script. The viewer gets the feeling that Hrithik Roshan’s presence has just not been justified by the script. It seems a mystery how Hrithik accepted the film! Pooja Hegde looks okay but the freshness and liveliness of a new heroine is totally missing. Her performance is ordinary. It must be added here that the chemistry between Hrithik Roshan and Pooja Hegde is conspicuous by its absence. Kabir Bedi is average as Maham. His head gear, with two horns, makes him look weird. Arunoday Singh is hardly impressive as Munja. Suhasini Mulay is so-so. Nitish Bharadwaj and Kishori Shahane-Vij lend fair support as Sarman’s uncle and aunt. Sharad Kelkar has his moments as Sarman’s father. Manish Chaudhry is alright as the priest. Narendra Jha makes his presence felt as Jagiro. Umang Vyas (as Sarman’s best friend), Diganta Hazarika (as Lotha), Shaji Choudhary (as Maham’s aide) and Naina Trivedi (as Chaani’s friend) are adequate. Others provide ordinary support.
Ashutosh Gowariker’s direction is no better than his dull screenplay. He has been unable to capture the audience’s attention with his insipid narration. A.R. Rahman’s music is melodious but only the ‘Tu hai’ song holds appeal because the other songs are not even popular. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are nice. Raju Khan’s choreography in the ‘Tu hai’ song is eye-filling. A.R. Rahman’s background music is not as grand as it should’ve been. Muraleedharan C.K.’s cinematography is wonderful. Aamar Shetty’s action choreography is lovely, especially the fight between Sarman on the one hand and Bakar and Zokar on the other. Sanjay Karole’s sets are nice. Sandeep Francis’ editing leaves a lot to be desired.
On the whole, Mohenjo Daro is a box-office disaster and will be rejected by the paying public. It will entail back-breaking losses to its producers and distributors and to everyone associated with the film and will, therefore, go down in film history as a colossal flop.