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'Kalki 2898 AD' Review: Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan Come Together For a Masterpiece

Cast: Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Disha Patani, Kamal Haasan Director: Nag Ashwin Rating: 4/5 The trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’, starring Prabhas and Amitabh Bachchan, is a grand and visually-compelling masterpiece that bears testimony to director Nag Ashwin’s abilities as a storyteller. Set in the dystopian city of Kashi in 2898 AD, The sci-fi […]

Cast: Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Disha Patani, Kamal Haasan

Director: Nag Ashwin

Rating: 4/5

The trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’, starring Prabhas and Amitabh Bachchan, is a grand and visually-compelling masterpiece that bears testimony to director Nag Ashwin’s abilities as a storyteller.

Set in the dystopian city of Kashi in 2898 AD, The sci-fi actioner centres on Bhairava (Prabhas), a selfish bounty hunter who aspires to enter the “complex” and live a comfortable life. This, however, is easier said than done as one needs one million units to be part of the complex. Bhairava eventually gets an opportunity to fulfill his dream when Manas (Saswata), the ruthless antagonist, asks him to track down a pregnant woman (Deepika Padukone). This sets the stage for a showdown between the “undefeated” bounty hunter and the “immortal” Ashwathama (Amitabh Bachchan)

Storylines in commercial cinema often tend to be a tad too one dimensional. The “hero” is usually projected as a virtuous individual with no flaws while the “villain” comes across as a ruthless individual with no redeeming qualities. ‘Baahubali’, ‘Legend’, and ‘Veera Simha Reddy’ are just a few films that illustrate this aspect.

‘Kalki 2898 AD’ is an exception on this front as it features layered characters. Bhairava is a selfish daydreamer with no loyalty towards anyone. Similarly ,Ashwathama too carries a curse because of a sin he committed in the past. This complex characterisation alone makes ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ a step in the right direction.

The promising storyline reaches its potential because of the stellar screenplay. Nag Ashwin relies on the tried and tested ‘show don’t tell’ technique of storytelling to build the film’s world. This results in a slow yet compelling first half. ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ begins with a gripping sequence featuring Ashwathama, which sets the stage for what is to follow. The action then shifts to 2898 AD where people long for a saviour and find themselves at the mercy of the Supreme Yaskin and his men. In a moving sequence, Manas kills a character and her unborn child. These scenes establish the kind of suppression faced by the people of Kashi.

The focus eventually shifts to Prabhas, who gets an unusual yet amusing entry sequence. ‘Darling’ impresses with his comic timing. His witty exchanges with Bujji, his robot companion, are a treat to watch and cater to those fond of Marvel movies.They also showcase a side of Prabhas that fans have hardly seen before. Nag Ashwin then proceeds to humanise yet elevate the character beautifully through his fight scene with Ashwathama . These intense sequences are a treat to watch on the big screen and establish Bhairava as a braveheart while setting the stage for the second half.

The post-interval portions prove to be a feast for the eyes courtesy the stellar visual effects. The last 40 minutes, however, prove to be the film’s biggest strength. The sequence in which Prabhas undergoes a transformation is an example of cinema at its finest. Everything about it, right from the background score to its impact on the narrative, is perfect.

‘Kalki 2898 AD’ exceeds even ‘Baahubali’ and ‘RRR’ when it comes to hero elevation in this scene.The climax also sets the stage for the sequel.

Coming to the performances, Big B is the scene-stealer in ‘Kalki 2898 AD’.The ‘Shahenshah’ adds depth to one of the finest characters of his stellar career. He is equally good in the action scenes with Prabhas. His rich and powerful voice adds new life to powerful dialogues such as “bhagwan mein srishti…” and “”Main bacha loonga..”.

Prabhas shines bright in the action sequences and springs a surprise with his comic timing. His striking screen presence elevates the impact of the twist towards the end. Deepika Padukone delivers a watchable performance but ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ does not do justice to her abilities the way ‘Padmaavat’ had. Disha Patani fails to impress in an inconsequential role. The subplot with her and Prabhas also feels out of place. Saswata makes an impact every time he appears on the screen,. This is a much better outing for him than ‘Crew’.

Kamal Haasan looks menacing in the two scenes he appears in but doesn’t get enough scope to showcase his brilliance. The rest of the cast serves its purpose.

The editing is decent but the Disha Patani track could have been shortened. The background music does justice to the film’s larger-than-life scale.

To conclude, ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ is a stellar example of meticulous storytelling and proves to be a huge leap forward for Indian cinema.

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Amitabh BachchanKalki 2898 ADNag AshwinPrabhasTDG. The Daily Guardian