Guest Article from Abhishek:
This is an attempt to show the authenticity and historical accuracy of MohenjoDaro trailer, and also a response to questions raised by some fans. Without wasting any further time, I will highlight and try to answer the common questions raised by some fans.
I think many people are being little subjective and jumping on conclusion very quickly. It was just a trailer, movie is yet to come out. First of all, let me clear that there’s very limited information available about Indus Valley Civilization so, Ashutosh has taken assistance from various books, historians and archaeologists, especially Jonathan Mark Kenoye ,who has worked on excavation of Mohenjo Daro for 35 year.
Portrayal of Love Story:
Coming to the point, no matter what some people say, love story has been, and always will be a big part of majority of Bollywood movies made on large scale as a commercial element, as it appeals to larger section of audience. It has been a major part of many classic periodic Bollywood movies from 1940’s Alexander The Great, 1960’s Mughal-E-Azam to modern era classics like Jodhaa Akbar and Bajirao Mastani, which were loved by both critics and audience. If we check the list of top 25 highest grossing Bollywood movies, we will find love story was a part of all of them, and 23 of those movies had villains in them as well. So, as a producer, when you invest your money on a big budget movie, you have to make sure it appeals to majority of people. Coming into jumping on conclusion part, trailer promises ‘MohenjoDaro’ is more than just a love story. Here’s what Ashutosh had to say about movie –
“It’s a world that I am most fascinated with — who were the people, how did they live, what was the society like, are some of the questions which always intrigued me.”
It is clear by this statement that Mohenjodaro will also focus on the lifestyle, culture and adventures of people during Indus Valley Civilization. There is also a lot of mysteries surrounding MohenjoDaro like, the reason behind its decline, which may be covered in the movie.
Mohenjo Daro was the most advanced city of Indus Valley Civilization with population of more than 30,000 people, it definitely needed a sophisticated system of government to allow the city to survive and build infrastructure. Although, there’s no proof, many archaeologists believe MohenjoDaro was ruled by a ‘Priest-King’ (name given by archaeologists). Here’s a picture of his figurine -
It is wearing jewellery, which indicates he was rich and socially powerful. From the trailer, we can see Kabir (Maham) is supposedly playing the role of Priest-King. Kabir Bedi is wearing the same ‘Trishula’ shaped crown of horns on his head. Now, why is he wearing it is still a mystery, but after hearing him say “It is only me who decides who will die and live in the MohenjoDaro” in the trailer, it can be speculated that he considers himself a God (Pashupati).
Although, there’s no evidence of temples in Mohenjo Daro. A watertight pool called the ‘Great Bath’, perched on top of a mound of dirt and held in place with walls of baked brick, is the closest structure Mohenjo Daro has to a temple. Possehl, a National Geographic grantee, says it suggests an ideology based on cleanliness. Here’s a picture of how this ‘Great Bath’ looks today.
Now, check out of ‘Great Bath’ shown in the trailer, how it may have looked during Indus Valley Civilization - We can see ‘Great Bath’ is surrounded by multiple lamps (‘Deepak’) like we see in numerous ‘Pujas’ (worship) in India. We can also see (Channi) holding a sculpture while entering the ‘Great Bath’. It all indicates to ideology of cleanliness or ritual purification, which was sacred to them. Ashutosh seems to be on target with his research and vision.
The people of Mohenjo-Daro were actively engaged in trade with other people of the Indus River Valley and with Mesopotamian civilization. Standardized weights, measures, and scales found in Mohenjo-Daro are evidence that the citizens had an organized system of trade.
Hrithik (Sarman) shown trading, probably 1st time in Mohenjo Daro city. It is probable that the people of Mohenjo Daro traded with Mesopotamia by sea, by moving goods through riverboats.
As also shown in the trailer, The infrastructure of Mohenjo Daro city is also shown very well in the trailer. An image of reconstruction of the gateway and drain at Indus Civilization by paleontologist and artist Christopher Sloan.
Many of evidences, discoveries and speculations about Mohenjo Daro have been covered in the trailer itself like politics/leadership, religion, seals, writing, trading, transportation, infrastructure, mysteries etc. They should all be explained in the movie as it is not possible to do it in a 3 minute long trailer. All these parts of the trailer also show this movie is more than just a love story.
Costumes, Use of Silk and Feather:
Indians have mainly worn clothing made up of locally grown cotton. India was the one of the first places where cotton was cultivated and used even as early as 2500 BC during the Harappan Era. The remnants of the ancient Indian clothing can be found in the figurines discovered from the sites near the Indus Valley Civilization, the rock cut sculptures, the cave paintings, and human art forms found in temples and monuments. I wish people did some research before questioning the authenticity of a director, who has dedicated 3 years of his life collecting information.
Here’s an evidence found by Irene Good, Jonathan Mark Kenoyer (who has personally assisted Ashutosh), and Richard H. Meadow - Coiled copper-alloy wire necklace discovered at Harappa in 2000 with traces of silk fibers preserved on the inside.
Now, since it is proven that silk and many other fibers were available during Indus Civilization, director had creative freedom to design Pooja’s dresses, which do not represent the daily life clothing during that era because nobody else was wearing dresses like her in the trailer. It is speculated that she’s playing role of a dancer, or perhaps, a rich girl. Why has she used feathers on her head? Some girls, even today, use feathers of peacock on their head for decorative purpose. Again, she was the only one shown in the trailer who used it.
Some people are saying people used to have darker complexion during Indus Valley Civilization. Look at the people standing in the background of above picture. You will see most of the people have dark skin. Even Hrithik, who’s been nicknamed ‘Greek God’ by many due to his looks, has his skin toned down. Some people were shown with lighter skin tone, but they were in minority. Pooja (Channi) can be seen using cosmetics, and it has been proven that women during Indus Valley Civilization did use cosmetics, depending upon their financial status in the society.
Use of Horses and Weapons:
I can read people asking questions like, ‘there were no horses during Indus Valley Civilization, why are horses shown in trailer’ on Youtube, Twitter etc. But, the fact is, remains of horses have been claimed to have been found in deposits at Mahagara near Allahabad Hallur in Karnataka, Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa ("small horse"), Lothal (e.g., a terracotta figurine and a molar horse tooth, dated to 2200 BC), Kalibangan, and Kuntasi. Horse remains from the Harappan site Surkotada (dated to 2400-1700 BC) have been identified by A.K. Sharma as Equusferuscaballus. The horse specialist Sandor Bökönyi (1997) later confirmed these conclusions and stated the excavated tooth specimens could "in all probability be considered remnants of true horses [i.e. Equusferuscaballus]". An alleged clay model of a horse has been found in Mohenjo-Daro and an alleged horse figurine in Periano Ghundai in the Indus Valley. Here’s the picture
Some people are making jokes on crocodile jumping scenes shown in the trailer. Can crocodiles really jump? You will be surprised to know, yes, they can.
This is from Crocodilian Biology Database, “You don't often associate crocodiles with the ability to jump, but in fact several species have been observed jumping - usually out of water, although one or two have the ability to leap on land. Here’s a picture of a crocodile leaping from the water.
Maybe, they have exaggerated it in the trailer, but crocs can surely ‘jump’!
Language & Accent:
This has to be the most comical one. Finding the traces of human skeletons from Mohenjo Daro has been so difficult, then who are we to judge or predict what accent did they have? Forget about accent, even their language hasn’t been determined yet, nobody has been able to translate it from the writing found on evidences. It is an unreadable language. Hence, it is obviously impossible to make a commercial movie with an unknown language.
Comparisons With Baahubali:
Baahubali was a completely fictional movie. It was almost a fantasy considering the locations, sets, superhuman strength possessed by leading characters etc. So, director had full creative freedom to use as much VFX and creativity he wants, VFX was used in majority of movie to make it seem like a larger than life experience. There were also war sequences in it.
Whereas, MohenjoDaro is based on a real world, an ancient civilization, there was no need to make it VFX heavy, they could have only used VFX on ancient buildings, which were not that big either. It can also take attention away from the story. I’m not saying they did not use VFX at all, but it is not a major part of movie unlike Baahubali. Style of SS Rajamouli, director of Baahubali, is also very different from the style of Ashutosh. His main focus is on creativity and how can he innovate things, as we saw in Eega as well, whereas, Ashutosh mainly focuses on his story, how can he craft and tell a story from ancient civilizations. So, there’s no point in comparing these 2 movies as both are different from each, directed by different directors.
Use Of Mohenjo Daro’s Name In Movie:
Some people are asking, why are people of Mohenjo Daro denoting this city by this name when it was named in 19th century? The answer is simple. Because, the original name of Mohenjo Daro city is still unknown. When the original name of city is still unknown, makers obviously had to come up with a name for the city by themselves, which can be used in the movie. So, what’s wrong in using the name ‘Mohenjo Daro’ when most of the people today, and probably in far future, know it by this name only? I’m sure original name of the city would have been used in the movie if anybody actually knew it.
Now, the biggest mystery surrounding Mohenjo Daro city is, what was the reason behind its decline in 19th Century BCE?
There’s not much evidence to answer that question, many archaeologists have different theories and opinions regarding decline of Indus Valley Civilization and Mohenjo Daro. Mark Kenoyer suggests that the Indus River changed course, which would. As a result, it is possible that the people simply decided to leave because of frequent floods. Other speculations include, natural disasters, climate change, invasion etc. Here’s another picture from trailer, showing flood potentially destroying (partially?) Mohenjo Daro.
Director Ashutosh Gowariker is trying to do full justice to the title ‘MohenjoDaro’ based on the limited information available and also though his own vision, by being as accurate as possible. Since, many archaeologists have worked on excavation of Mohenjo Daro, their theory and opinion may differ from each other. If collecting information about whole Indus Valley Civilization wasn’t difficult enough, it should have been even more difficult to create and tell a story by keeping all these aspects of Mohenjo Daro in mind. Since, there’s no novel or story available based on true events of Mohenjo Daro to make a 100% authentic movie, he had to create a story of his own with the help of limited information and evidences, which he has highlighted in the trailer itself by being as accurate as possible, and we can expect the story to be told even in a better way in the movie, as he’s known for his storytelling.
So, the criticism of being ‘inaccurate’ or ‘inauthentic’ to history is truly uncalled for, as nobody actually has clear evidence or answer to prove number of speculations. Some people have jumped on conclusion way too soon as movie is yet to release. There’s a saying, “Never judge a book by its cover”. In this case, it seems like many people have misread the cover, since it’s about a very ancient subject. Ashutosh Gowariker dedicated many years of his life on this project, and of course it will have some commercial elements in it like love story, innovative actions and clothes since it was never supposed to be a documentary to be shown on Discovery channel or a history lecture by a professor.
I hope I was able to clear some of your questions, and sorry for a lengthy post, after all it was about an Ashutosh Gowariker movie. Cheers!
Abhishek Suryawanshi is an Engineering student from MP. He is a big fan of cinema and love to discuss movies, box office, music and sports. Follow him on Twitter.
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