Kalki 2898 AD: Big B’s Big Screen Bonanza

Kalki 2898 - AD

“Kalki 2898 AD” opens with a captivating portrayal of the aftermath of the Mahabharata war, where Lord Krishna curses Ashwatthama (played by Amitabh Bachchan) with immortality. This sets the stage for a fictional narrative deeply rooted in Hindu mythology, centered on the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu, prophesied to arrive on a white horse to signal the end of the Kali Yuga.

Writer-director Nag Ashwin skillfully crafts his story around this premise, presenting a precursor to future installments in this expansive cinematic universe. Ashwin employs his imaginative prowess to transport the audience into a visually stunning world, which stands as the film’s most prominent strength. With the aid of cinematographer Djordje Stojiljkovic, he introduces us to the sole remaining city of Kasi, governed by the malevolent Commander Manas (Saswata Chatterjee) and led by the God King Supreme Yaskin (Kamal Haasan), who resides in a mysterious powerhouse known as the Complex. It’s a dark world where fertile women are killed, and men are enslaved. The only glimmer of hope lies with Bhairava (Prabhas) and a motley group of rebels from Shambhala until they rescue one of the subjects from the Complex, SUM80 (Deepika Padukone), the bearer of the awaited avatar.

The narrative, though simple, is entangled in a complex web of characters and subplots, some of which contribute little to the overarching story. Ashwin’s plot often veers into unnecessary detours, causing the first half to suffer from a lack of focus, especially concerning Prabhas’ character. Attempts at comedy, even with veteran Brahmanandam (playing Bhairava’s landlord Rajan), fall flat, as does Bhairava’s half-baked romance with Roxie (Disha Patani), which could have been omitted entirely.

Fortunately, the film gains momentum in the second half with Amitabh Bachchan’s re-entry. The legendary actor impresses with his infectious energy in high-octane action scenes. Despite the extensive use of special effects and modern computer animation, Bachchan breathes life into his character, infusing a sense of realism into Ashwatthama’s unbridled power. Deepika Padukone displays commendable restraint and skill in her portrayal of a subdued character destined for greatness.

South superstar Shobhana provides solid support as the wise Mariam. Saswata Chatterjee’s portrayal of Commander Manas is somewhat caricatured, but Kamal Haasan delivers a strikingly distinctive performance that sends chills down the spine. Special appearances by Vijay Deverakonda, Mrunal Thakur, Dulquer Salmaan, S.S. Rajamouli, and Ram Gopal Varma leave brief yet memorable impressions.

The production design by Nitin Zihani Choudhary deserves special mention for creating a captivating visual landscape that enhances the immersive experience. While the music score by Santhosh Narayanan is a letdown, the background score effectively complements the film’s narrative, elevating key moments.

“Kalki 2898 AD” is undeniably a larger-than-life visual spectacle that transports viewers into a vividly imagined universe. The film’s visual quality is so high that it overshadows many of its flaws, engaging the audience with the atmospherics of the make-believe world of Kasi and the Complex. For those who enjoy epic battles between gods, good, and evil, “Kalki 2898 AD” offers a satisfying audio-visual experience, albeit one that requires some patience.