In defence of Mohenjo Daro: Give credit to Ashutosh Gowariker’s historical imagination, if not his filmmaking skills

For a minute let us just focus upon Gowariker’s attempt at creating a film out of meagre historical facts that historians are still debating over.

Written by Adrija Roychowdhury | New Delhi | Updated: August 16, 2016 8:49 am
Mohenjo Daro Movie Review, Mohenjo Daro Review, Mohenjo Daro movie, Mohenjo Daro, Hrithik Roshan, Hrithik movie Review, Pooja Hegde, ashutosh gowariker, ashutosh gowariker film Gowariker might not have been able to satisfy film critics, but you cannot deny his achievement in attempting to build a world out these numerous historical debates and speculations.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s period drama, Mohenjo Daro, released last week and has clearly left film critics and historians unhappy. Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express has described the movie as exhausting. Historians, on the other hand, have slammed the film for the inaccurate depiction of the 5000 years old civilisations at Harappa and Mohenjo Daro.

There can be no denial that Mohenjo Daro lacks both an adequate historical understanding of the period, and a strong film script and plot. However, for a minute let us just focus upon Gowariker’s attempt at creating a film out of meagre historical facts that historians are still debating over.

As a journalist who writes on history, I can say with full confidence that one of the biggest challenges with presenting history on mass media lies in the necessity to make it appealing and interesting enough for readers to relate to and appreciate. The academic exercise of writing history is very different from that of presenting the subject through means of popular media. It is particularly challenging when it comes to films, wherein visuals do not just have to do justice to historical accuracy, but also take into consideration all the debates among historians.

Anybody who has the slightest knowledge of history would know that experts of the subject, more often than not, have dialectically opposing views on the same period or topic. The historical debates grow all the more intensive as we go further back into the past to pre-history, due to the lack of adequate eye witness accounts or deciphered written records. The challenge for the filmmaker then is to deal with a subject upon which experts have not yet come to a unison.

Gowariker might not have been able to satisfy film critics, but you cannot deny his achievement in attempting to build a world out these numerous historical debates and speculations. Of course one can complain about the kind of costumes worn or the language used, but we need to give some credit to his historical imagination.

Mohenjo Daro Movie Review, Mohenjo Daro Review, Mohenjo Daro movie, Mohenjo Daro, Hrithik Roshan, Hrithik movie Review, Pooja Hegde, ashutosh gowariker, Mohenjo Daro releae, Mohenjo Daro rating, Mohenjo Daro stars, Mohenjo Daro 2016, ashutosh gowariker film, hrithik Pooja film, Pooja bollywood debut, Hrithik mohenjo daro, Hrithik Roshan film, Mohenjo Daro cast, Mohenjo Daro news, entertainment news There can be no denial that Mohenjo Daro lacks both an adequate historical understanding of the period, and a strong film script and plot.

Further, despite all the speculation that he has had to deal with, he has managed to put together some characteristic features of the Indus Valley civilisation such as evidence of international trade with Mesopotamia and Egypt, the highly sophisticated architecture of the city, a multitude of professions, priest kings, discovery of a great bath and the theory of a huge flood destroying the city. The film can never be a reference point for ‘budding historians’, however, it does shed some light upon a civilisation about which most non-experts of History hardly know anything.

His biggest flaw lies in his incapacity to put together these bits and pieces of information in a manner that is gripping enough for the audience to sit through for 155 minutes. This, of course, is quite surprising considering Gowariker’s finesse in dealing with history in two other very successful films, Lagaan and Jodha Akbar. The biggest strength of these two films, in my opinion, lay in their script. This is precisely where he fails miserably in the case of Mohenjo Daro.

Ironically then, for a filmmaker of the stature of Ashutosh Gowariker, it is not so much in his knowledge of history that he has failed his audience as much as in his film making capacity.

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  1. M
    Madhav
    Aug 17, 2016 at 2:54 pm
    This is such a lame article. Really a desperate attempt to defend the indefensible. A lazy Wikipedia search can throw up more "historical facts" than the ones being extolled here. Truly appreciate the optimism of the writer to find good in the supposed dump that is mohenjo daro. For a movie that deliberately or otherwise gets the name of the city wrong, there's no points for historical imagination.
    Reply
    1. A
      angie
      Aug 15, 2016 at 11:39 am
      Are you a journalist on history? And still call it a 3000 year old civilization?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Per current research it is 3000 BCE. That is 5200 years old.
      Reply
      1. S
        Satyavachan Maharaj
        Aug 15, 2016 at 10:20 am
        Sir, i think you're missing a w range of points here. When you write a piece on history in your por media, and people don't like it, you feel sad but the loss is insignificant and you quickly move on. You don't blow up INR120 crore in investment, 4 years of gestation period and unmeasurable blood and sweat of hundreds of co-artists in making something that lacks imagination, historical or otherwise, and basic common sense. I do feel that Mr Amir Khan deserves as much credit if not more for the brilliance of Lagaan as Mr Gowrikar does.
        Reply
      2. V
        Vilas
        Aug 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm
        It is one thing to take artistic liberty but another to imagine and and outright lie about the facts and events. Mohonjo Daro may not eb first and may not be last. Take example of Jodha Akbar , where in Akbar calling himself as Rajput or King himself offering his daughter to a Muslim ruler on his free will or take example of Ramayana produced by a muslim director on TV in which Ravan is shown to trow out so called untouchables fro cl. There is no evidence of cast system during ramayana. These directors distort facts either for commercial purpose or intentionally thats the fact . We are accepting criminalization in movie industry as a routine matter. Criminally convicted actors directors, personalities are given blind eye is the fact.
        Reply