Kalki 2898 AD Review: A superhero mythology with rich visuals

Kalki Review

What’s it about?

Six thousand years after the battle of Mahabharat, Ashwattama (Amitabh Bachchan), cursed by Krishna to be eternal, is waiting in Kashi for the arrival of God in the form of Kalki. In Kashi, which has now evolved into a dystopian world where the Ganga River is drying up and residents are attempting to get to Complex, which has taken in all of the energy on the planet. Residing in this location is Bhairva (Prabhas), a bounty hunter who is willing to undertake any task in exchange for units (money).

Supreme Yaskin (Kamal Haasan), the owner of the complex, conducts an experiment called Project K on pregnant women. One of the pregnant women, Sum-80 or Sumati (played by Deepika Padukone), manages to escape from it with the assistance of rebels affiliated with Shambala, utilizing underground tunnels. The other group of Shambala await outside the tunnel and escort her to a more secure location.


Perceiving that Sumati is destined to give birth to Kalki, Ashwattama assumes the duty of safeguarding her, while Bhairva aims to claim the reward offered for her capture by moving her to complex again. Who will be the victor in this endeavor?


“Kalki 2898 AD” is the third film directed by Nag Ashwin, yet it is his most ambitious and grandest project to date. The first film he made, titled “Evade Subramanyam,” fell into the genre of youth drama category, while his second film, “Mahanati,” was a biopic. For his third work, he opted for a distinct genre, which was a significant deviation from his previous ones. He described his latest film, “Kalki 2898 AD,” as a science fiction mythology drama that combines elements of Indian mythology and sci-fi action.

Hinduism encompasses numerous theories regarding the conclusion of Yugas. The present epoch in which we reside is known as Kali Yuga, which will culminate with the advent of Kalki, the ultimate and concluding incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In the Mahabharata, there is a reference to Ashwatthama, who was subjected to a curse by Lord Krishna. According to the curse, Ashwatthama would wander in the forests until the conclusion of the Kali Yuga.

Director Nag Ashwin incorporated popular sci-fi elements, commonly seen in Hollywood blockbusters, into his film using these mythological references. He adeptly integrated Indian mythology and science fiction elements for the most part. Therefore, “Kalki 2898 AD” is not only ambitious but also exhibits a refreshing approach in terms of its genre and themes.

While viewing the film, we perceive numerous allusions to various Hollywood movies such as “Star Wars,” “Children of Men”, “Dune”, “Mad Max Fury Road”, “The Terminator” and so on.

The fundamental premise and storyline of “Kalki 2898 AD” share resemblances with Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men.” A future setting, three separate worlds (locations), protecting a pregnant woman, and the reference to Tomorrow (in this film “Repati Kosam”) are identical to those of “Children of Men.”

However, these sources of inspiration hold little significance as Nag Ashwin presents the film in his own ambitious style. He achieves success in certain places, but fails in others. Hence, the film offers a mixed feeling – a sense of innovative endeavor in Telugu cinema while also evoking a sense of deja vu for people who are familiar with Hollywood films.

The film commences with the Kurukshetra conflict, introducing the character of Ashwattama. It then goes on to create a dystopian future in Kashi and a utopian society known as ‘complex’ in which women are forced to become pregnant in order to extract a serum from their wombs.

Director Nag Ashwin dedicates about ninety minutes to establishing these elements before delving into the central plot of rescuing the expectant mother portrayed by Deepika Padukone. Consequently, the last episode transforms into effective action extravaganza.

Director Nag Ashwin succeeds in two key areas: 1) combining Indian mythology with Hollywood super hero concepts, and 2) world-building. However, he fails on three essential aspects: 1) on developing emotional drive, 2) narrating in a concise manner, and 3) providing adequate duration to the protagonist.

Therefore, although “Kalki 2898 AD” offers a unique plot and experience, it fails to fully impress us. Although Nag Ashwin demonstrates brilliance as a writer and director in many aspects, it appears that he has lost control at some point.

In terms of the cast, Prabhas plays the lead hero in the film, whereas Amitabh Bachchan has a role of equal duration. Prabhas embodies a grandiose character reminiscent of a superhero, albeit his presence on screen is restricted. He depicts Bhairava in an entertaining fashion. He excels in a pivotal episode when his true identity is unveiled.

It is difficult to envision anyone other than the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan playing the role of Ashwatthama, as his performance is utterly captivating and his presence brings much-needed seriousness to the film. Prabhas and Amitabh Bachchan engage in competition in specific segments, and it is only Bachchan who can execute them with such effortless style.

Kamal Haasan, another legendary actor, is the villain. However, apart from a brief appearance in the narrative, his role primarily serves as a precursor to the second part. Although his role is brief, the exceptional actor’s appearance and commanding presence make it interesting.

Deepika Padukone’s portrayal of a pregnant woman is okay. Disha Patani’s role is silly and wasted.

Vijay Deverakonda gets an interesting role in the crucial portion. Though it is a cameo appearance, it is important to the story. Dulquer Salmaan, Rajamouli, RGV, and Mrunal Thakur have made cameo appearances. Sobhana, Rajendra Prasad, Pasupathy, Malavika Nair, Saswata Chatterjee, Anna Ben, and Brahmanandam do justice to their roles. Keerthy Suresh provides voice for Bujji, a device attached to hero’s vehicle.

The visuals, encompassing the remarkable visual effects and cinematography, are exceptional. Djordje Stojiljkovic’s marvellous cinematography and the remarkable production design by Nitin Zihani Choudhary are major plus. The film is mounted on a huge scale and it is evident in every frame.

Santosh Narayanan’s music has always appealed to me, but for some reason, I didn’t think it worked well with this movie. The other main drawback is the editing. Not only is the pacing slow, but there are also numerous superfluous segments and protracted battle scenes that might have been edited out to make it more concise.

Nag Ashwin, as a writer and director, has demonstrated his brilliance in seamlessly blending mythology with superhero themes. However, his screenplay lacks smoothness and emotional drive is not effective.

Bottom line: “Kalki 2898 AD” follows the style of Hollywood superhero films, incorporating elements of Indian mythology. The characters from the Mahabharat seamlessly blend into the dystopian thriller genre. Although the ambition and setting are impressive, the overall experience provides mixed feelings. It functions effectively in certain locations, but less so in others. Overall, the movie is worth seeing because of its ambition and effort.

P.S. “Kalki 2898 AD” concludes with the information that the “Kalki Cinematic Universe continues,” implying that a sequel will be released.

Rating: 3/5

By Jalapathy Gudelli

Film: Kalki 2898 AD
Cast: Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Deepika Padukone, Disha Patani, Shobana, Malavika Nair, Brahmanandam, Pasupathy, Keerthy Suresh (voice), Saswata Chatterjee, Anna Ben, and others
Additional Dialogues: Sai Madhav Burra
Music: Santhosh Narayanan
DOP: Djordje Stojiljkovic
Editor: Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao
Production Designer: Nitin Zihani Choudhary
Action stunts: King Solomon, Andy Long, Peter Heins, Satish, Anbariv, Nick Powell
Co-Producers: Swapna Dutt and Priyanka Dutt
Producer: Ashwin Dutt
Written and Directed by: Nag Ashwin
Release Date: June 27, 2024



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