Forget historical accuracy, this is all about Hrithik's abs
This obviously isn't going to win any Academy Award nominations. Director Ashutosh Gowariker may have been lauded for his taxing period drama Lagaan, which earned a nomination for the Oscar's Best Foreign Language Film in 2002, but his latest film, Mohenjo Daro, is a clichéd period epic that offers a confused peek into the past of a place that is now a Unesco World Heritage site. I mean, if you want "exotic" costumes, epic sets and a hero-unknowingly-related-to-this-city plot, this is just the thing.
Set in 2016 BC in what is now modern-day Pakistan, the film takes place at Mohenjo Daro and is supposed to offer insight into this magnificent city that was once the most advanced of its time. What might have gone down in this glorious civilisation and what caused it to fall? The visuals aren't too bad in this earth-toned Mohenjo Daro, although the tale that goes on in it is one we've all heard of before.
This Hrithik Roshan vehicle makes darn sure you see that he has more muscles than a horse, when the film opens with him single-handedly killing a crocodile in a river gorge. Playing an indigo farmer called Sarman, he is in for the adventure of his life when his uncle finally allows him to visit the nearby big city, Mohenjo Daro.
For someone who grew up in the middle of nowhere, Sarman is obviously mortified to witness farmers like himself get taken advantage of in the big city, and thus begins his rally to eventually overthrow the city's tyrannical, gold-hoarding premier, Maham. Kabir Bedi is the cartoonish villain who talks in big, booming dialogue, made even more historically questionable with the horned helmet that he sports. In fact, there's all sorts of turbans and headgear going on here, and Sarman's love interest flaunts the most conspicuously eye-catching beaded bustiers and headdresses, even if probably historically inaccurate.
His lady love, Chaani (Pooja Hedge), is a high priest's daughter and the Chosen One destined to lead the New Order, but doesn't really do much beyond standing around looking pretty in her ridiculously immaculate headdress that accommodates a whole season's growth of flowers, stones, coins, beads and feathers. There isn't much of a plot line for Hedge to work with, but then again, she did get some lip-locking time with Sarman (about as sizzling as watching your phone recharge) and what looked like the most fake crying scene ever. No story here -- being the token ancient hot chick is about as far as Hedge's part will go.
Of course, it's not a complete period epic without some gore and pulling a Moses, so they also throw Sarman into a gladiator-style pit and unleash some horrid natural disaster where he has to save a whole city of citizens. His physical dexterity is a thrill to watch, and the action scenes do keep you on the edge of your seat, along with the dance numbers that remind us that before there were Korean boy bands, there was Hrithik Roshan.
He'll discover some secrets, too, even if nothing is too deep or profound. It's hardly fresh and could have been a lot more, but it's all still entertaining if you can overlook the tacky CGI crocodiles and unicorns. If you're looking for close-ups of Roshan's abs/biceps/chest hair, don't mind a somewhat confusing look into an Arabised Indus Valley civilisation and full points on the headgear game -- then yes, you'll be digging Mohenjo Daro.