If a child were to base his school history answers on Ashutosh Gowariker’s filmography, chances are he’d have a few red marks on his paper and his bottom. Unlike what Lagaan teaches us, the British did not settle scores on the cricket field, and Akbar’s love for Jodhaa was in no way single minded. (Hundreds of concubines and a string of wives made sure of it.) The director, though, clearly does like his finger on that rewind button, and so the trailer of Mohenjo Daro takes us right back to 2016 BCE. Since Christ wasn’t born yet, Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) can easily call dibs on that messiah status.
The arrival of a saviour is always preceded by prophecy. We know that Sarman is going to rescue Mohenjo Daro from the evil clutches of greed. An assuring voice tells us that at the start of this trailer. Copper and stone artefacts really don’t cut it. It is Sarman, an indigo farmer, who will ensure that we remember both the ‘sachai’ and ‘achhai’ of that famed early city. At one level, Roshan is the stereotypical migrant. He comes to the big city and immediately feels an inexplicable connect, a sense of belonging. But we’re dealing with a liberator here. In no time, he’s up to mischief, asking people to make a fist and stick it to the man. (Eka badhta hi jaye, chale chalo. Remember that tune?)
Chaani (Pooja Hegde) has feathers sticking out of her hair and is made to resemble a cockerel
If you want a hero who saves his girl from horses, Hrithik Roshan is a perfect catch. He did, after all, tame an elephant in Jodhaa Akbar. The girl in question, Chaani (Pooja Hegde), has feathers sticking out of her hair for most part and though the comparison is unflattering, she is made to resemble a cockerel. This, however, would make sense. Historians tell us that Mohenjo Daro was possibly called ‘Kukkutarma’ (‘the city of the cockerel’) by its inhabitants. Cock fights, they assume, were huge there. Unfortunately, there is not too much evidence of the several fist fights Sarman partakes of.
The villain of this piece, Maham (Kabir Bedi), would have been more intimidating were it not for his headgear. Maham sports a helmet with a bull’s horns, and Roshan does what we’d expect him to. He grabs that bull by its horns. (Proverbially, that is.) Sarman and Maham squabble over the city like kindergarteners. At some point in these three-and-a-half minutes, you ask – Whose Mohenjo Daro was it anyway? It apparently never did belong to that very advanced civilisation of the Indus Valley.
The trailer does remind you of some yesteryear Bollywood films. Revolutionary hero falls in love with the city’s most beautiful girl and an evil mobster sort plays spoilsport. Been there. Seen that. But more tellingly, it brings to mind many a Hollywood blockbuster. Like in 300, you expect Roshan to kick Bedi and shout, “This is Mohenjo!” The actor, at one point, is also quite the Russell Crowe-like gladiator. Bringing back obvious memories of Lake Placid, Roshan even fights crocodiles. (Yes, that happens.) In the end, we get to see a flood. Noah, of course, had an ark. All Sarman has is intensity.