Noor Us Sabah Tauqeer

Noor Us Sabah Tauqeer

Noor Us Sabah Tauqeer is a final year Literature student at the University of Karachi. She’s a public speaker and has written for New London Writers and South Asia Magazine.
Noor Us Sabah Tauqeer

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Before I start, here’s a disclaimer: No, I never take Bollywood seriously, so in case you’re thinking of being a badass by saying, “It’s Bollywood, why so serious?” know that I’m absolutely not serious – I’m just curious.
Ever since I set my eyes on the trailer and posters roaming around on Facebook I’ve been curious – there’s a movie coming out called Moen Jo Daro, Krishh has been cast in the lead role (sans the Matrix-like waterproof-looking suit) and it is every bit as ridiculous as ridiculous gets.
Now normally I wouldn’t bother – but Moen Jo Daro happens to be a significant part of our heritage as well, so I just had to see. And oh, how my eyes did bleed.
Ashutosh Gowariker, who is otherwise known for his grandiose period films that he boasts are derived from “History,” – like Jodha Akbar – has hilariously somehow come up with what seems to be a period comedy, period. The Twitteratti are enraged beyond belief over the inaccuracy that seems to surround the trailer – most taking to Twitter to point out how the trailer declares the movie will come out “This Independence Day,” only to be followed by “August 12.” Thus so far not only has Mr. Gowariker misrepresented national History but also what goes beyond – namely the Indus Valley Civilization and what he supposes was the mannerism of the people who inhabited the area. Mr. Gowariker has taken it upon himself to relate the “true” History of Moen Jo Daro – and for the sake of fiction we can forgive him that – but for the archaeological discoveries that live on today that also stand in stark opposition to the trailer.

The trailer starts with huge golden letters that read “2016 B.C.” (is that a veiled cuss for every idiot who watches the movie?) and goes on with a narrator telling you how imperative it is that we know who “Moen Jo Daro’s savior” is because otherwise the coming generations would know nothing of the city. Well, looks like they conveniently forgot the archeology part of 2016 A.D. We get introduced to a perfectly chiseled, flawlessly tanned and blonde Hrithik Roshan who is rowing a couple of boats to . . . is that Mereen?


Well, I mean, I don’t know. It looks an awful lot like the Free Cities they show you in GoT, just lacking the pyramids. But then the writers of the HBO show might have taken Moen Jo Daro into consideration too, and so I digress. We soon learn that Roshan is a farmer (did they have gyms and tanning beds at that time and could farmers pay for them?) and has come to Mereen – I mean, to Moen Jo Daro, with a prophecy. Fact check: This is supposed to be the Indus Valley Civilization, with dark skinned people who were mostly farmers who’d settled along the Indus River – not farmers who look like they just finished doing dips. Enter Jon Snow like sequence:


But since the trailer came out before Battle of the Bastards even surfaced, it makes no matter – except why are these horses mad at this farmer-prophet or why does he have to fight these horses; because, you know, there are no men around fighting him. Are these horses part of what is putting Moen Jo Daro at mortal risk? Or is this just a . . . Generic cool Bollywood sequence? I was also hoping to see some of those famous bull carts we saw in our Social Studies books at school – I saw a lot of bull-horn-helms, though scarcely any bull carts.Soon after the macho farmer tells you he’s got some vague connection with the city that he can feel you get introduced to . . . Snap chat filter:


And this is where it gets all weird. At least one famously hailed statue of the “Dancing Girl” that was found in Moen Jo Daro depicts a woman with thick bangles on her elbows and as few clothing as our heroine here, yet the attire is all wrong. I’m no History geek but I remember Moen Jo Daro statues pretty well from my school books – and from my visit to the Taxilla museum – and I don’t suppose Harappan women looked anything remotely close to this:


So according to Ashutosh Gowariker Harappan women used Fair and Lovely and Veet, not to mention the push up bras that people have taken to pointing out. Who, might I dare ask, tailored this outfit? While we see the rest of Moen Jo Daro folks in usual Indian-village-garb, our lead heroine wears something that looks as if she walked straight out of a dancing bar. Also, Harappan women were way ahead of us when it came to Snapchat filters (it was 2016 B.C. after all) and they took their Snapchat filters very seriously. I guess we can safely expect feathers are going to be the next big thing on Snapchat.

I was also very much in a state of confusion when I tried making some of the hieroglyphics out. Turns out, they’re not so difficult to read. We have:

A Benzine molecule
Pokemon Ball
DNA crossing

It’s not like I’m implying anything here (Astghfirullah birader, it’s Ramadhan), but I’m just saying there’s a lot of phallic imagery in the hieroglyphic – too bad Freud is dead. He would’ve had a prime time trying to figure out what these mean. Although between organic chemistry and molecular biology, I’m guessing the Harappans were a pretty advanced race – for a movie this grand and boasting of Historical backing, a little attention and a little detail towards the hieroglyphic would have been very prudent. Anyway, to continue with the trailer, there’s some usual Indian movie heroine doing the Sufi swirl, then some more Snapchat filters, enter villain wearing weird and very fake-looking bull horn helm, some generic Indian movie hero fights a bunch of bad guys, more Mereen-like shots, and the final showdown – only Hrithik Roshan can save Moen Jo Daro, none else. Well, I guess he did a pretty shitty job.

But that’s not the best part. Before the British Raj, – the trailer tells you – Before the Mughals, Before Christ, Before Buddha – but not before Snapchat filters, it seems – there was Moen Jo Daro.

Enter Gladiator-esque sequence:


When the macho farmer has to fight these . . . Stone Age men?

And I’m not implying anything again, but if that’s blood on his back, it does a very good job of not looking like blood. There’s also some interesting old age religion-ish thingy with the women in Snapchat filters and the men in weird head-lamp-helms doing only God knows what –


I’m just asking – what’s happening here? There’s a fight going on for Moen Jo Daro’s existence and these guys are just . . . dancing? And those are some very (un)original looking skulls and tusks. And if by now you’re thinking you’ve seen the worst of it – well, sorry to disappoint you but you haven’t. Turns out Moen Jo Daro was in mortal danger of being wiped out and only Hrithik Roshan could save it by . . . fighting flying crocodiles. I’m not even kidding:


Let that sink in for a moment. I understand that before Buddha and even before Isaac Newton there was Moen Jo Daro, but just because Newton hadn’t discovered Gravity doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, did it? But what the hell, this is Krishh, and he fights flying crocodiles in this movie, get over it already.

Oh look, more Snapchat filters!


By this time into the trailer I thought my brain cells would start to deteriorate, but thank God for the flood that it came and wiped these worthless pieces of Gravity defying Gladiator rip-offs out of existence. Also, why does everybody in the trailer keeps calling it Moen Jo Daro? That means Mound of the Dead, surely no one could’ve named the city that – especially before it became the Mound of the Dead. But since nothing else in the trailer makes sense, I should just ignore this too.

The thing with making Historical period films is exactly what Mr. Gowariker conveniently dismissed: historical accuracy. Of course we none of us know what really happened in Moen Jo Daro – and that was a perfect opportunity to seize to make up for a good fictional narrative to go with it. The opportunity was duly seized but to everyone’s dismay Mr. Gowariker failed to produce anything refreshing – he had a blank canvas all unto himself, at leisure to paint it with whatever colors he pleased. Yet he went for the same generic Bollywood sequences that one can easily find in a Salman Khan flick. There was the flood, alright, and from what the trailer suggests in the end it does wipe out Moen Jo Daro – and perhaps that was the most accurate the trailer got. What he did have was a horde of archaeological findings, scholars on the history of Indus Valley Civilization, artifacts preserved in museums – any of these could have been used and infused into interesting fiction. Sadly standard Bollywood dance-and-fighting villains sequences do not make for interesting fiction – it all merely points to the fact that Bollywood fails predictably when they have neither Hollywood movies to copy from nor folktales to provide the tiniest bit of substantial plot to their films. Depressing as it is, they managed to destroy even Moen Jo Daro – one of the largest and most ancient civilizations to have ever existed.

To summarize the movie for you from what I understand: There’s a lot of Snapchat filters, a lot of phallic hieroglyphic, flying crocodiles and tigers and horses, a few Mereen sequences and dialogue in pure Lagaan like delivery. There is nothing original or new about this movie. This here is Moen Jo Daro for you in a nutshell. If you were planning to watch it – know that I’m praying for the welfare of your brain cells.