Kalki 2898 AD | Movie Review

Kalki 2989 AD

When I first heard about Project-K, (now Kalki 2898 AD) with Prabhas a couple of years ago, I wasn’t impressed or excited to be honest. Post Baahubali, Prabhas has been selecting unconventional scripts that have mostly been duds. Additionally, he has put on so much weight, making it seem like he can no longer carry a film effectively. But Salaar was a breath of fresh air, and my hopes went up for Kalki, especially with the casting choices. But does the film deliver? Let’s dive in!

With just two films under his belt, Nag Ashwin’s Kalki 2898 AD aims for the stars. His vision is very similar to Ayan Mukerji’s, who made Brahmastra last year. Both these young directors had a similar ambition of wanting to make something spectacular, with grandeur akin to Hollywood movies. However, where Ayan failed and Nagi succeeded (though both had Amitabh Bachchan) is that Nagi had a proper script to back his conviction.

The movie starts about 6000 years ago with a couple of episodes from the Kurukshetra, and then fast forwards to 2898 AD, to a dystopian future where the world teeters on the brink of collapse, and the only surviving city is Kashi. The poor are on the street, while the lucky few live in this modern complex, with luxuries and good food, ruled by supreme ruler Yaskin (Kamal Haasan). Units are the currency required to enter a lavish complex, and our protagonist Bhairava (Prabhas), a street dweller, strives to gather the million units needed for entry with his AI sidekick Bujji (Keerthy Suresh). Meanwhile, fertile women are captured by Yaskin’s army and subjected to artificial insemination to produce a serum for Yaskin. SUM-80 (Deepika Padukone) is one of these women who manages to endure pregnancy the longest. Her baby’s life is under threat, and the rest of the story is about how the rebels and Ashwatthama (Amitabh Bachchan) save her. Or do they?

Nagi successfully combined mythology and science fiction, and I loved how he infused enough humor into this otherwise serious script. Though the movie is about three hours long, it never felt like a bore. However, the first half seemed unnecessarily long, and certain plot points in the second half feel rushed. There were also parts he could have done better (I wish he had skipped the bit with Disha Patani and Bhairava’s episode in the complex as they were the only cringe-worthy bits), but I’m still impressed with his screenplay and direction.

Prabhas is the right choice for Bhairava. His comic timing is great, but his expressions were often obscured by his beard and bulky face. Amitabh has a meaty role, and he does full justice. I loved that he dubbed for his character (for most scenes). Deepika and Shobana deliver decent performances. Kamal Haasan’s brief role relied heavily on CGI, leaving little to remark about his presence. The rest of the supporting cast performs well; I’m glad that Nagi picked relatively new faces for these roles, bringing a sense of freshness.

Music by Santhosh Narayanan is a huge disappointment. I agree that there is not much for him to play with considering the script, but the tunes felt outdated and didn’t resonate with the film’s epic proportions. Thankfully, the background score is decent. Cinematography by Djordje Stojiljkovic is stunning, with sprawling cityscapes, intricate set designs, and breathtaking special effects that create a believable futuristic world. Barring a couple of scenes, the CGI work is very good. Some of the action sequences are well choreographed, but this can’t be said for all (especially the first fight). Editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao could have been better; some scenes cut abruptly to the next, and care should have been taken to avoid such amateur mistakes for a film of this scale. Dubbing is way better than what we saw in the trailer but there were inconsistencies in the voices which didn’t help. Despite these flaws, Vyjayanthi Movies need to be commended for putting so much time and money into Nagi’s conviction.

Overall, Kalki 2898 AD is another monumental achievement in Indian cinema, pushing the boundaries of genre and storytelling. Yes, it is inspired (or copied, whatever you want to call it) from various movies, but bottom line, it’s a film that dares to dream big and achieves its goal. It does have its fair share of imperfections, but despite the minor issues, the film manages to maintain a cohesive vision, driven by its strong performances and visual grandeur.

Is it worth your time and money?: Yes, absolutely! This is another bold attempt in Telugu cinema, an ambitious and visually stunning epic paving it’s way into the new genre of Indian science fiction. Can’t wait for Part 2!

Worth mention: The grandeur, visuals and production values.

Acting: 8.5/10
Story-Screenplay-Direction: 9/10
Technical Aspects: 8/10

Verdict: 8.5/10

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I am Sasikanth Paturi, a big time foodie and movie freak, and a pretty good critique.

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