Kalki 2898 AD Movie Review: An Epic Disaster

Ashwatthama lives through the centuries, making it his mission to ensure the safety of the mother who carries Kalki, the Vishnu avatar, in her womb. But battling invincible evil that stands in her way calls for more than one hero who must fight an array of impossible impediments before the safe arrival of Kalki the saviour.

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

An Epic Disaster

Kalki 2898 AD Cast/Actors: Prabhas as Bhairava, Amitabh Bachchan as Ashwatthama, Kamal Haasan as Supreme Yaskin, Deepika Padukone as Sumathi (Sum 80), Disha Patani as Roxie, Saswata Chatterjee as Commander Manas, Keerthy Suresh as Bujji (voice), Brahmanandam as Rajan & others

Kalki 2898 AD Movie Director: Nag Ashwin

Kalki 2898 AD Movie Release Date: 27th June, 2024

Kalki 2898 AD Movie Available On: Theatrical Release & likely to stream on Netflix (Hindi version) and Amazon Prime Video (Telugu, Tamil, Kannada & Malayalam versions)

Kalki 2898 AD Released/Available In Languages: Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada & Malayalam

Kalki 2898 AD Movie Runtime: 3h 1m

Kalki 2898 AD Movie Critic Review:

Writer-director Nag Ashwin is like a juvenile on a rampage in a gizmo shop with Rs 600 crore in his pocket.

It is an interesting idea that has germinated in Ashwin’s mind. He takes off with bodies strewn all over Kurukshetra from where Ashwatthama (Amitabh Bachchan) lives on, over several centuries until Kalki, the 10th avatar of Vishnu, arrives as the saviour of an increasingly dystopian world. But under the watch of cruel Commander Manas (Saswata Chatterjee) where girls are appraised as ‘positive’ (fertile) and ‘negative’ (infertile) for an evil experiment with a serum, Sumathi (Deepika Padukone) must get a safe passage to deliver her almost immaculate baby.

Once the whole grotesque plan of Manas’ leader Yaskin Supreme (Kamal Haasan) unfolds and the ugliness of his world settles down, the climax is heady. Especially in the battles between Ashwatthama and bounty hunter Bhairava (Prabhas) with the latter finally coming into his own and putting his muscle to noble use. 

Unfortunately, that’s only the last 30 minutes of what feels like a very weary film. More than an hour and a half plods along until it picks up.   

First, not everybody will connect to all the mythological references including Shambala, the place where Kalki is supposed to take birth.

Second, until interval point, there is just so much unhappiness and lack of joy that you’ve no idea who’s who or what’s happening with too many irrelevant characters all over the place. It takes a while to also understand that in this strange land where people arrive in cages, children are coughing and ailing, God is banned, and fights happen more with lasers and whirling lights than with fists and punches, everybody and everything is measured in “units”. You’ll get “10 units” for a girl. Ugh.

The experiment to get the perfect serum for Supreme is paved with pregnant young women being putting through unimaginable pain before they’re cruelly disposed of. It sure put me off.

The third big disappointment is the entry of Prabhas himself. With no relief in sight, he’s supposed to be laidback, his fighting skills available for the highest number of “units”, and he banters with his buddy-manager Bujji (voiced by Keerthy Suresh), an Alexa kind of gadget. Along with some brief flirtation with Roxie (Disha Patani) who is inconsequential.

It is a weak introduction any way you look at it.

In the midst of “positive” and “negative” young women, when “negative” Sumati inconceivably conceives and hides her pregnancy, a band of rebels help her escape from the miserable city of the Supreme.

The Hindi version, strewn with staccato lines, doesn’t work, the attempts at humour (like a landlord wanting rent from Bhairava or Bhairava’s shoes not being charged in what’s supposed to be a comic fight) rather silly.

The problem is, we’ve seen dystopia in half-a-dozen well-made movies like The Hunger Games and we’ve also seen comic fights over the years. The combination of humour, fights and a strong emotional story with dips into Indian mythology, makes for a great cocktail party if it’s blended well. But a major portion of Nag’s narration is without the entertainment this cocktail should have yielded. He does have a flair for the comic (like the many heads carried by Bhairava in one Ravana-like shot) but his preoccupation with going berserk over special effects (seen over and over again in Hollywood’s many sci-fi movies) makes it hype and technology over a consistently gripping narration.

BTW, by the end of this laborious fantasy, Kalki has not even made his appearance. Hopefully, the pace shown towards the climax will prevail in the 2nd installment. 

Kalki 2898 AD – Watch Or Not?: I wouldn’t recommend the Hindi version for a watch in the theatre.

Kalki 2898 AD Movie Review Score Rating: 1.5 out of 5 (i.e. 1.5/5)

Kalki 2898 AD Official Trailer:

Credits: Vyjayanthi Network

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An Epic Disaster Kalki 2898 AD Movie Review: An Epic Disaster