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Mohenjo Daro Trailer Gets The Costumes Wrong

We’re talking about Bollywood, where a short & stout Mughal emperor Akbar, in a Filmfare award winning portrayal, is depicted as tall and toned sex symbol. That’s Bollywood for you, an industry known for unnecessarily glamorizing anything and everything. The trailer of Ashutosh Gowarikar’s latest period drama Mohenjo Daro, opens with subtitles, “It’s imperative that I tell you the truth about the past. Or else, the future generations will never know, the truth or goodness, of Mohenjo Daro.” The subtitles were juxtaposed on the visual where Hrithik Roshan, is wearing a bifurcated dhoti trousers and cut & sewn top – garments which never existed in Mohenjo Daro period. “Hello, it’s me,” sings irony.

The costumes are designed by Emmy award winner April Ferry and three-time National award winner Neeta Lulla. The latter designed the breathtaking costumes in Jodhaa Akbar. One can literally learn differences between Rajput & Mughal costumes by watching Jodhaa Akbar and that should explain the quality of Neeta Lulla. So, how did two incredible talents succumb to exotic desi stereotypes and create garments irrelevant to Mohenjo Daro era? Or is the film actually not set in Mohenjo Daro? The trailer says, it’s 2016 BC. It’s a bit worrisome that next time someone Googles “Mohenjo Daro Costumes” for educational purposes, they’ll stumbled upon snapshots from the film!


India is a hot and humid nation and due to climatic conditions, both men and women living in Mohenjo Daro simply wrapped a rectangular cloth in lungi style. Bifurcated garments came much later sometime around Kushanas.

Mohenjo Daro Costume design

Here is one of the earliest documented evidence of trousers in Kushana statue… approx. 2000 years after Indus Valley Civilization.

SV-AS10 ImageData


In fact, men and women predominantly left their upper bodies uncovered in Mohenjo Daro era. It was in exceptionally rare occasions, like in cases of royalty, did people wear a robe across the shoulders. Layering different pieces of clothing never happened in the era.

Mohenjo Daro costume design



Cut & sewn garments like kurta, jama or trousers didn’t exist in Mohenjo Daro era. People simply draped their garments over the body back then – a custom which evolved to give birth to sari and dhoti.

Mohenjo daro costume design



Earliest reference of printed cottons in India comes approximately around 300BC. The ancient art of textile printing was popularized some time roughly around 4th and 5th centuries BC. The elaborately printed turban is a bit way too ahead of time.

Mohenjo-daro-costume-design-5-printed turban never existed



Indus Valley Civilization had access to fabric dyes. Although only surviving fragment of coloured cloth is dyed red with madder, historians believed that indigo and turmeric were used too. However, colours like purple didn’t exist in the era. The oldest known pigment of purple was made from mollusc extracted from Mediterranean Sea snail, recorded since 4BC. The colour was so expensive back then that only royal family could afford it – the reason why purple is associated with royalty and luxury. The men in the screenshots have clearly travelled to future and obtained the rich purple fabrics.

Mohenjo-daro-costume-design-8-clothing dyesMohenjo-daro-costume-design-10-purple



In fact, women left their upper body uncovered for the most part of our clothing history. But censor board gives no choice to filmmakers, since Mohenjo Daro customs are unacceptable in modern Indian society. During Mauryan era women still covered their upper body with breastband known as patidhi… but they definitely didn’t wear bra or blouse at least till British Raj happened.

Mohenjo-daro-costume-design-6-elaborate jewlery or bra

This was the costume in Gupta period (7-8th century)….

Gupta period - about the 7th or 8th Century



And portrayal of horses in that era is controversial…

12 horses




Back in Indus Valley Civilization, clothing of men and women is supposed to be more similar than different – WRAPPED GARMENTS, DUH!

Mohenjo-daro-costume-design-7-unisex clothing



Though bleaching technique was known to ancient Indians, they mostly used natural bleaching techniques like sun drying etc and not chemicals like chlorine or peroxides. As a result, pristine white clothes never existed in ancient history and they always had a slight beige shade.

11-pristine whites



Though this doesn’t exactly come under costume design department but exposes Bollywood’s white skin fetish out in open. Natives of Indus Valley Civilization, often regarded as Dravidians by most scholars due to cultural & linguistic similarities, were dark skinned people. Light skinned Indo-Aryan nomads reached Punjab province only around 1500BC marking the onset of early Rigvedic period.

pooja hegde mohenjo daro



mohenjo daro dark skinned people
Note: Hindu nationalists claim that Aryans are the original inhabitants of both Harappan & Vedic civilization and they didn’t enter India but they created India. However, archaeological finds, study of linguistic migration, DNA haplogroups and other socio-cultural transitions render that Indo-Aryan group was related only to the Vedic culture and not the preceding Harrapan civilization. The debate is assumed as a tool for Hindutva politics to identify Indian Muslims as foreigner invaders – a view which would be diluted if Vedic people themselves are foreign nomads.


12 horses
Indus Valley Civilization knows nothing about horse or horse chariots as the animal isn’t native to India. There is archaeological evidence for the possible existence of some horses in the IVC, if very few. From time to time people have come up with what appear to be the bones of quasihorses, protohorses like the donkey, or the Dawn Horse, or the ass or onager; but horse bones are hard to decipher, and these are much disputed. However, wild horses aren’t naturally found in India and the climatic conditions are not suitable for horses to naturally thrive either. It is widely regarded that horses first came to India after/around 1700BC when Indo-Aryan nomads migrated to India.

  • June 22, 2016

    Loved the article.. I think that they have to glamorize it. But yet, some more attention to detail could have been paid, atleast as a tribute to that era.

  • Surbhi
    June 22, 2016

    I think everyone got a bit overboard in this including the designer . Only if they could visit national museum of history in Delhi . Everything is right there in the face . Even some pics of the people of the era , utensil , jewellery – basically tribal stuff some bangles which i remember and a lot of things to look & to take inspiration from . Men were tall usually 7 feet . Definitely dark complexion.
    So fail !!

  • sundeep
    June 24, 2016

    This looks so game of thrones Influenced even this girl in the blue costume looks like Daenerys Targaryen, the dragon queen. Come on bollywood have some originality here. This is our own culture.

  • sundeep
    June 24, 2016

    This looks so game of thrones Influenced even this girl in the blue costume looks like Daenerys Targaryen, the dragon queen. Come on bollywood have some originality here. This is our own history.

  • Shivangi Aggarwal
    June 24, 2016

    An amazing blogpost. Very good research done.

  • Deepa Chauhan
    June 25, 2016

    In periodic film they spoile not only the historical facts but also damage the information for future generation..in starting of garment they were not only unstitched drapes but also they were not bifurcated at that early. the color of the fabric is so truely applicable not only for Indus Valley Civilization but also for many ancient civilizations..like in ancient Greek also Purple was reserved for royal people only..thus still purple conceder as royal color.

  • Natarajan
    July 13, 2016

    Movie is a movie. If something is not categorically established, let the directors creativity to therive.

  • Prathyush
    August 16, 2016

    I would like to study the bone structure study from where ever source you hot, but for linguistics part i must say you are absolutely wrong. We know nothing of Indus valley language and the script is yet to decipher . I must say your linguistic analysis puts a doubt in me, the earliest known linguistic analysis goes to early rigved language which was chandas. The earliest Dravidian literature goes back to 3 century bce only so there is centuries of difference between either of the languages family and Indus valley. What we know about Indus valley is by archeological study not linguistic.. But I would like if you could send me some studies on bones and structure of human there, I would’ve never imagined that I will ask this from fashion blogger but knowledge can come from any source ☺☺

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