Art & Culture

Mohenjo Daro is another grim reminder of how Bollywood skewers history

Vinayak Chakravorty
Vinayak ChakravortyAug 20, 2016 | 13:42

Mohenjo Daro is another grim reminder of how Bollywood skewers history

It's just a movie, right?

Who cares whether the cut of whatever Hrithik Roshan is wearing in Mohenjo Daro looks straight out of an abysmally tacky ethnic collection of 2016. It’s not just a movie. It’s history, yours and mine. And, as always, it has been mangled beyond recognition by big time Bollywood.

The jarring note about Mohenjo Daro is that a section of the audience is actually taking in Ashutosh Gowariker’s epic misadventure as textbook truth on the Indus Valley civilisation.

Bollywood has just splurged over Rs 100 crore on a new biggie, and that is reason enough to be unconditionally seduced.

Mohenjo Daro merely reiterates what we always knew about Bollywood’s sense of duty towards history — it does not exist. Research, accuracy and authenticity are words our filmmakers traditionally detest. 

For one, these call for brainwork. Also, these require a chunk of budget that the producer would rather spend on a lavish dance number (although in this case, the cascade of factual errors surprises you — Gowariker after all is our gone-to-the-Oscars wiz, toasted ever since Lagaan).

The gaffe circus Mohenjo Daro has, of course, been struggling at the box-office, though the film’s tepid show is not necessarily because it peddles mistakes in the name of creating fiction out of history.

Gowariker’s obsession with making long films has backfired this time because he had no story to tell.

The director has a history of being slipshod about authenticity while recreating the past, recall Jodhaa Akbar. Engaging as the film’s drama quotient was, Hrithik’s casting as Emperor Akbar amused many. The real Akbar after all was far from a towering handsome hunk.

Hrithik Roshan as Emperor Akbar in Jodhaa Akbar amused many.

Point out such errors and Bollywood’s lines of defence can actually be hilarious.

Last year, when criticism was raised over mistakes in the Pinga dance of Bajirao Mastani, choreographer Remo D’Souza, talking to Deccan Chronicle, declared the idea was to create fiction and not a documentary, meaning authenticity was unimportant.

To quote Remo: "We have simply presented the song in a glamorous avatar to cater to today’s audiences... The film is meant to entertain and should not be seen as a documentary."

For Bollywood, the word "entertainment" is a powerful licence. It nullifies the necessity to be sensible, tasteful, accurate and ethical. It also lets filmmakers cover up lack of imagination and knowledge.

Filmmakers have also been quick to realise the might of the disclaimer.

The phrases "is based on" and "any resemblance to reality is coincidental" have probably never been more (ab)used in any other film industry of the world, while transforming reality into saleable masala.

The disclaimer is a big weapon.

It helps evade legal notices — the sort that Ketan Mehta faced from descendants of Raja Ravi Varma for allegedly portraying the artist as a playboy in Rang Rasiya.

Gowariker of course need not worry about legal notices from descendants of Mohenjo Daro denizens.

But if the filmmaker had done some basic homework, he would have known the city could never have been named Mohenjo Daro.

That name was given to the site by excavators thousands of years later.

Mohenjo Daro, after all, means "Mound of the Dead" — not quite what a thriving civilisation would call itself while dancing to AR Rahman’s title song.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: August 21, 2016 | 14:55
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