KALKI 2898 AD (2024) B


(director/writer: Nag Ashwin; cinematographer: Djordje Stojiljkovic; editor: Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao; music: Santhosh Narayanan; cast: Prabhas (Bhairava), Amitabh Bachchan (Ashwatthama), Deepika Padukone (Sum 80), Kamal Haasan (Supreme Yaskin), Disha Patani (Roxie), Anna Ben (Kyra), Pasupathy (Veeran), Saswita Chatterje (Commander Manas), Kathy Suresh (Bujji-voice); Runtime: 165; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: C. Aswini Dutt; AA Films release of a Vyjayanthi Movies production; 2024-India-in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, English, with English subtitles)

“Blends Hindu mythology (religion) with sci-fi ambitions and martial arts action.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A visually appealing but derivative (Blade Runner, Star Wars, Mad Max and Dune influenced film) big budget drama (a knock-off Hollywood film, meant to be the start of a franchise) that blends Hindu mythology (religion) with sci-fi ambitions and martial arts action.
It’s a crowd pleaser (even at 3 hours), set in the dystopian future, in 2898, during a time of strife on Earth, that takes place on a wasteland desert planet due to decay and violence.

It’s directed by the Indian auteur Nag Ashwin (“Mahanati”), who employs Hollywood-styled   melodrama and spectacle to bolster this mainstream Indian film.

The world’s planets and its cities are in ruin, but the one city still standing, Kasi, has an impenetrable fortress (known as “The Complex,” that stores the world’s resources for the rich and famous), that’s overseen by the evil Supreme Yaskin (Kamal Hassan) and his minions.

Bhairava (Prabhas) is a cool bounty hunter, who is looking to live the easy life and can do so by collecting a big reward and thereby buy a place on easy street in the Complex. He believes his dreams of the good life can be realized when tracking down a pregnant woman (Deepika Padukone), who has escaped the Supreme Yaskin’s shadowy genetic Project K testing lab (where the fluids from the pregnant women are made into a formula that can provide eternal youth). What he’s unaware of is that the woman is protected by both anti-government rebels and an immortal 8-foot warrior (Amitabh Bachchan). The immortal believes her child is the second coming of God (Where have I heard that before!), and if he saves her and the child his curse for a misdeed by Lord Krishna of living forever will be removed.

The CGI effects are stunning, the storytelling is expansive and the narrative is somewhat convoluted. The uneven film requires westerners to brush up on Hindu mythology or else they might miss out on its faith messages (as the film is grounded in the epic Sanskrit poem, the Mahabharata).