Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In a Time of Ancient Gods ...

Mohenjo Daro (2016)

An ancient city, a hub for trade and multicultural crossroad, with quasi-historic but shamelessly anachronistic mishmashes of music, clothes, and general attitudes, toils under the oppression of a despot who usurped the rightful leader a generation ago. It is, verily, a land in turmoil crying out for a hero. Along comes a stranger, who immediately makes allies (in this case, a city guard who apparently has nothing else to do than help them out) and enemies (said tyrant, and his cartoonishly despicable son), and will inspire and lead them to rise up against tyranny and restore democracy to the land.

Yes, the storyline of Mohenjo Daro is basically a big budget episode of Xena, Warrior Princess, only instead of the wry and powerful Lucy Lawless saving the day, we have Hrithik Roshan in harem pants. But the plot elements could easily have been tossed off, and maybe abandoned, in the writer's room of the Tapert-Raimi epics. There are ridiculous feats of engineering (an impromptu "boat bridge" strung across a raging, flooded river, to usher refugees to safety in the nick of time) and action sequences like the gladiatorial match which Hrithik's Sarman wins through his seemingly infinite ability to take the punches of much larger men, along with the power of --yes! -- parkour!

This is a deeply silly movie, but the "ancient" dancers performing with Isis wings cracked me up, and anything that starts with an attack by an "Air Gator" is okay with me. (Well, I think it was really a crocodile, and the credits reassure us that it was a CGI creation, lest we think Hrithik really speared one).

Not to pick on him, but the film's backstory events supposedly took place fifteen years ago, which made me wonder how old Sarman, with his wide-eyed village innocence, was supposed to be. When he's going on about his vague memories, and the "aha! I was here before, as a child!" penny drops, I was like, yeah, you'd have been in your twenties when you went into exile? I know, it's a common problem as time catches up with movie stars, but if they're committed to it, maybe they should vague it up enough that people like me aren't momentarily distracted by reality. Nobody should have to go through the kind of painful awkward stage that Rishi Kapoor did during his transition from young adult awesome to elder statesman awesome.

Also, according to the Wikipedia, the film's director, Ashutosh Gowariker, worked with archeologists to develop the story, and "painstaking effort was made to ensure precise accuracy of the city's film set construction, matching its proportions and architecture to the actual archaeological ruins." But either nobody told him that the river Ganga is nowhere near the Mohenjo Daro site, or he didn't listen. If someone has information that I'm wrong in my geography, please let me know.

Because I'm looking for accuracy in a film like this! At 2:20 in the trailer, you'll believe a crocodile can fly.