As the first trailer of Mohenjo Daro hit the web, one sat back and thought – what exactly has happened to Ashutosh Gowariker? The awful special effects, the convenient time period of 2016 BC, the hideous Cleopatra-esque costumes and headgear. Lack of attention to detail, is not something you associate with Ashutosh Gowariker. And yet, he looks out of his depth, in his comfort zone, i.e. period dramas.The story Mohenjo Daro is woven around the Indus Valley civilisationRecently, Gowariker’s Lagaan completed 15 years. It remains one of the best films to have come out of India since 2000, and that has nothing to do with the Academy Award nomination. The film saw the ascension of the actor-turned director, whose first two films had not done too well. Unfortunate for Gowariker, as anyone who has seen Baazi starring Aamir Khan and its Die Hard-esque climax, will tell you about his routine as the no-nonsense cop before Sarfarosh.Lagaan was a tremendous success on both critical and commercial fronts.When Gowariker was about to make Lagaan, there were a lot of odds against the film, except for the one positive that he was re-uniting with his lead actor. The audience had always been hostile to films involving sports. Nobody knew what Lagaan meant. The film was going to show the ‘hero’ dressed in dhoti, speaking with a heavy rural accent. And yet, it was made with absolute love, as explained in ?hale Chalo. The attention to detail in costumes (Bhanu Athaiya) and sets (Nitin Desai, Ashutosh Gowariker) was something that translated to the authenticity we saw on screen.advertisementSwades features arguably SRK’s best performance as Mohan Bharagav.Lagaan was released and as the cliche goes, the rest was history. It made money, swept the award ceremonies, was campaigned enough during the Oscar season to make it to the Best Foreign Film category. Gowariker followed that up with two spectacular movies – Swades and Jodha Akbar. Swades arguably remains Shah Rukh Khan’s best performance in recent time (another contender being Chak De India), as he completely inhabits the role of NRI Mohan Bhargav. The film follows a NASA scientist as he returns to India to visit his childhood-nanny, who is old now. The film got the critical acclaim it deserved; however, failed to make the money everyone expected from Shah Rukh Khan. The director however was in top form, as he established his mastery over his material with that one scene, where Mohan declares why he doesn’t believe India is the greatest country in the world. Or the scene where he gives the five-rupee coin to the boy selling drinking water.Jodha Akbar managed to be both a spectacle and an intimate love story.His next film Jodha Akbar was pretty much a repeat of Lagaan, slaying critical acclaim and the audience with equal aplomb. The film showcasing the love-story of Mughal emperor Akbar and Rajput-princess Jodha Bai was beautifully made. Gowariker delivers a spectacle (just look at how he filmed Azeem-o-Shaan Shahanshah’ or the climax battle sequence) and yet keeps these small nuggets of beauty in the story, like that sexually-charged sword fight between the two title characters when they meet for the first time or that scene when Jodha teaches the emperor to read his own name. Jodha Akbar was the director’s Everest. After that, he began experimenting.This bloated romantic comedy found favour with no one.Gowariker’s next film was his stab at a romantic comedy – What’s Your Rashee. The film featured Harman Baweja, who meets a Priyanka Chopra from each ‘rashee’ (zodiac sign). Why did they have to be played by the same actor? Because Bollywood logic. The duration of the film, at 3 hours and 31 minutes, left everyone exhausted. What’s Your Rashee, along with some help from his debut film Love Story 2050, destroyed Harman Baweja’s career. The audience couldn’t believe that Ashutosh ‘Lagaan’ Gowariker had made a movie as terrible as this. But then, everyone let it pass considering it was the law of averages catching up with the maverick director. After all, everyone’s made a bad film once in a while.This was Gowariker’s second debacle in a row.Only the audience was in for a rude shock. Gowariker’s next film, a period drama on the 1930 Chittagong uprising called Khele Hum Jee Jaan Se, was unanimously trashed. Most of the audience coming out of the theatres claimed how the film felt like a boring history lesson. The cardboard performances of Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone, again, did nothing to elevate the film.advertisementHrithik Roshan plays the role of an indigo farmer, Sarman.It’s been six years since that debacle. And as we see a Hrithik Roshan (bathed in bronze) take on Kabir Bedi with peculiar headgear, you wonder which Ashutosh Gowariker made this movie. The director who was at the helm of movies like Lagaan, Jodha Akbar? Or the one who made What’s Your Rashee? Will the great director ever get back to his brilliant ways? Or will this film write the obituary of a once-great filmmaker? Mohenjo Daro has a lot to answer for.