News from the Locarno Festival

Mohenjo Daro

Piazza Grande

Mohenjo Daro


When talking about Locarno with representatives of Indian film, everyone remembers the screening of Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India in Piazza Grande in 2001. Someone who must remember it particularly well is Ashutosh Gowariker, who received an ovation from an audience that went wild for his film. Fifteen years and four other hits later, the director is back on the same stage to present his new historic blockbuster Mohenjo Daro, one of the most ambitious, eagerly awaited and expensive Bollywood films of all time. Rarely can international cinema even aspire to the spectacle and grandiloquence of which the Indian film industry is capable, a machine of dreams, desires and epic stories that bewitches immense audiences, without much concern for realism. That’s the case even here, despite the film being based on a specific historic era. It was inspired by research on the Indus Valley Civilization (3300 to 1300 BC), of which Mohenjo Daro was one of the most flourishing cities and one of humanity’s first urban settlements. Of course, making an entrance against this gigantic backdrop, reconstructed by an army of set designers and special effects experts, comes a hero with the weight of mythology and legend on his shoulders: the superstar Hrithik Roshan, who brings every quivering muscle of his body, the unreal green of his eyes and a presence that recalls the great actors of adventure films like Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn to every scene, from the clumsy and romantic seduction of the female lead (newcomer Pooja Hegde) to the bare-knuckle fighting with antagonists of every type (including the ruler charismatically portrayed by Kabir Bedi and an enormous crocodile) to a frenzied choreography featuring hundreds of dancers and extras and scored by one of the film’s many prestigious collaborators, winner of two Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire, the composer A. R. Rahman. We’ve waited long enough. Welcome back, Ashutosh!


Sergio Fant
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