Mohenjo Daro is a 2016 Indian Hindi-language period action-adventure film written and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. It is produced by Siddharth Roy Kapur for UTV Motion Pictures and Sunita Gowariker for Ashutosh Gowariker Productions (AGPPL), and features Hrithik Roshan and Pooja Hegde in the lead roles. It is a cinematic presentation based on the ancient Indus Valley civilization, and its city Mohenjo-daro, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Set in 2016 BC at the height of Indus Valley Civilization, the story follows a farmer Sarman (Hrithik Roshan) who travels to the city of Mohenjo Daro and falls in love with a high-status woman (Hegde), and who must then challenge the city’s elite, and fight against overwhelming odds to save their civilization. Gowariker took over three years to research and develop the script, working closely with archaeologists to ensure authenticity in the representation of his fictional story. The film was shot in Bhuj and Mumbai with brief schedules in Bhedaghat (Jabalpur) and Thane.
The score and soundtrack are composed by A. R. Rahman with lyrics penned by Javed Akhtar. The film was released worldwide on 12 August 2016 to generally mixed or negative reviews from critics, and is considered to be a major box office flop.
Mohenjo Daro marks the last film production of UTV Motion Pictures, as after the film, there are only two Disney releases, Dangal and Jagga Jasoos, which marked producer Kapur’s final projects under Disney-UTV before his contract with the company lapsed on 1 January 2017.
The film opens in 2016 BCE with Sarman, a young man from the village of Amri, who lost his parents at a young age. Sarman kills a crocodile that has been terrorizing his village’s fishermen and is hailed as a hero. He asks his uncle, Durjan, to allow him to go to Mohenjo Daro to trade their family’s goods, but his uncle refuses. Sarman attempts to sneak away to the city at night with his friend Hojo, but is caught by Durjan, who relents and allows both friends to go. He gives Sarman a seal that contains an inscription of a unicorn that Sarman often sees in his dreams, suggesting he use it only once in a life or death situation.
Arriving in Mohenjo Daro, Sarman learns that the city is ruled by the tyrannical Senate Chief Maham and his wicked son Moonja. He also learns that the unicorn he sees in his dreams is the symbol of the city, and feels as if the city is oddly familiar to him. While Sarman is trading, Maham proposes to impose an additional tax on the farmers so that the city may grow, but Sarman leads the farmers to oppose the taxes so that their families don’t starve to death. Sarman gains access to the upper city by showing his uncle’s amulet and meets Chaani, the elegant and gorgeous daughter of the head priest of Mohenjo Daro. Sarman is enchanted by Chaani’s heavenly beauty and charm and falls in love with her. Upon meeting, the head priest strangely appears to recognize Sarman. Chaani reveals that she has been forcibly betrothed to Moonja, Sarman’s enemy, who is cruel and ruthless. Maham discovers Sarman and Chaani love each other and that Sarman is the leader of the tax revolt, and so he challenges Sarman to fight Bakar and Zokhar, his two champions. Sarman proposes that if he wins, Chaani will be released from her engagement, and Maham accepts the terms.
The head priest reveals to Sarman how Maham was expelled from Harappa for illegal trade with the Sumerians. Maham entered Mohenjo Daro as a trader and quickly rose to become the trade chief. Maham had discovered that the mighty Sindhu River held vast gold deposits, so he decided to place a dam on the river and divert its course to mine the gold. The wise Senate Chief Srujan, who is revealed to be Sarman’s father, opposed this but Maham won the vote to build the dam. He had Srujan framed and arrested for hoarding gold. Chaani’s father and Durjan – Sarman’s uncle – were coerced by Maham to betray Srujan, and the latter was killed. Maham then took Srujan’s place as the new Senate Chief. It is now up to Sarman to defeat the evil Maham and gain avenge for his father.
In the arena, Sarman faces the ferocious Tajik mountain cannibals Bakar and Zokar in an arena before the city. After a vicious battle, he kills one of the cannibals but spares the other and the people of Mohenjo Daro surge even stronger behind him. Enraged, Maham urges Moonja to finish off Chaani and the priest. Moonja kills the priest but Sarman saves Chaani and kills Moonja.
Chaani exposes Maham’s plan to use the gold from the Sindhu to enrich himself and to smuggle in weapons from the Sumerians. All the chiefs now stand against Maham. The people elect Sarman as the new chief but Sarman suggests Mohenjo Daro needs a people’s government, not a chief. With the arrival of a heavy thunderstorm, Sarman realizes that the dam will burst and the Sindhu River will flood the city. He rallies the people to lash boats together and form a floating bridge. They evacuate Mohenjo Daro and cross to the other side of the river. The dam collapses, and Maham, chained in the city square, is drowned. The once renowned Mohenjo Daro is no more. The survivors migrate to another river, where Sarman sees the unicorn of his dreams and names the river Ganga.
Hrithik Roshan as Sarman, Chaani’s love interest
Pooja Hegde as Chaani, the Priest’s daughter and Sarman’s love interest
Kabir Bedi as Maham Ramani, the Senate chief
Arunoday Singh as Moonja, Maham’s son
Suhasini Mulay as Laashi, Maham’s wife
Nitish Bharadwaj as Durjan, Sarman’s uncle
Kishori Shahane as Bima, Sarman’s aunt
Sharad Kelkar as Srujan, Sarman’s father
Jividha Astha as Rami, Srujan’s wife and Sarman’s mother
Manish Choudhary as the Priest, Chaani’s father
Narendra Jha as Jakhiro, the Madman
Shaji Chaudhary as Kulka
Tufail Khan Rigoo as Ishme Dagan, the Sumerian
Diganta Hazarika as Lothar, The Guard
Naina Trivedi as Junu
Umang Vyas as Hojo
Casey Frank as Bakar
Mike Homik as Zokar