"Kalki 2898 AD": A Sci-Fi Epic with Ambition and Challenges

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“Kalki 2898 AD”: A Sci-Fi Epic with Ambition and Challenges

| Updated: June 27, 2024 16:43

The Telugu-language sci-fi film “Kalki 2898 AD” transports audiences to the year 2898 AD, offering a panoramic view of India. As the first comprehensive pan-Indian film, “Kalki” draws talent from major film-making centres across the country, bridging the cinematic gap between Bengal, Kerala and beyond.

However, despite its grand vision, “Kalki” grapples with a common issue faced by large-scale Indian productions: maintaining a consistently engaging screenplay. Let’s explore the film’s strengths, weaknesses and its potential impact on the future of Indian cinema.

The Plot and Aesthetics

“Kalki” weaves together futuristic aesthetics borrowed from various iconic films, including “Mad Max,” “Game of Thrones,” “Star Wars” and “Lord of The Rings.” Pre-interval, the film stumbles, occasionally inserting set pieces but struggling to find its rhythm. Fortunately, the second half, reserved for epic hero-villain confrontations, rescues the narrative, culminating in a thrilling climax.

The Characters

  • Amitabh Bachchan as Ashwatthama: Bachchan portrays the mighty saviour, Ashwatthama, who has survived across ages—from the Mahabharat era to the present. Set in Kashi, where the Ganges has dried up, the film draws inspiration from Hindu scriptures.
  • Kamal Hassan as Supreme Yaskin: Hassan’s character rules over the utopian city called the “Complex,” hovering above Kashi—the last habitable city in a desiccated world. His entourage includes Commander Manas and a mysterious soothsayer who speaks of divine intervention and ancient weapons.
  • Prabhas as Bounty Hunter Bhairava: Despite being the film’s headliner, Prabhas spends more time clowning than flexing his muscles. His eventual transformation into a formidable force saves the day.
  • Deepika Padukone as SUM-80 (Sumati): Outfitted in a chic shaggy haircut, Sumati harbours “The One,” waiting to take charge.
  • Shobhana as Senior Mother: Presiding over the Utopian land of Shambhala, Shobhana’s character leads the resistance against the all-powerful Supreme.

Challenges and Humor

The sprawling narrative necessitates a large ensemble cast, but “Kalki” struggles to engage viewers pre-interval. The laugh tracks, especially those assigned to Prabhas, fall flat. Only the robot character Bujji (voiced by Keerthy Suresh) manages to induce a smile.

Amitabh Bachchan’s Impact

Ultimately, it’s Amitabh Bachchan who shines. His portrayal of Ashwatthama, with gravelly epic-like intensity, delivers some of the film’s best moments. Kamal Haasan, though sparingly used, leaves a lasting impression.

The Future

As we await the next installment, the question lingers: Will “Kalki” streamline its storytelling and fully embrace its comic-book appeal? Only time will reveal whether this ambitious saga can strike the right balance and captivate audiences in the years to come.

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