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Will Kalki 2898 AD Be A Game-Changer?

Last updated on: June 11, 2024 09:05 IST

The Kalki Universe might just take off, but it will still owe its gee-whizery to Hollywood movies, observes Deepa Gahlot.

It is not short on ambition, this mixing of mythology and a dystopian future.

But if the emotions are Indian and the look Hollywood sci-fi, judging from the trailer of Kalki 2898 AD, then the result would either be magical or fall into the slot of pure hokum.

The makers of the film, supposedly the most expensive made in India, have spent a chunk of its Rs 600 crore (Rs 6 billion) budget on marketing -- feeding small visual morsels to build up anticipation for the trailer, and then the film.

Writer-Director Nag Ashwin works on the belief that when the evil of Kali Yuga crosses limits, Kalki, the tenth human avatar of Lord Vishnu, will swoop in and save the world.


The time for this appearance of the one to vanquish evil is the year 2898, so the film is set in a brown-tinted arid future when Earth is being depleted of resources -- water mainly -- by a place called the Complex, ruled by the Supreme Yaksin.

Things are so dark and bleak in Kashi, the 'oldest city in the world' that the light has come in to illuminate a new world order.

Ashwatthama (the immortal from the Mahabharat) played by Amitabh Bachchan with a part-sadhu-part-samurai look, takes on the task of protecting the unborn child of Sumati, (Deepika Padukone), the woman who will give birth to Bhairava (Prabhas).

The mercenary, who claims to work for his 'own side' will be drawn into this good versus bad battle, because that is what heroes do.

Kamal Haasan in an unrecognisable get-up, Saswata Chatterjee as the man in pursuit of Sumati, presumably to halt Kalki from being born, and Disha Patani as Bhairava's love interest also have a place in the trailer, along with glimpses of the CGI-heavy action sequences.

This is where things get tricky -- audiences have seen enough sci-fi adventures from Hollywood to recognise the direct and indirect influences. They spot Star Wars and Dune!

The editors of the trailer had the tough, razor's edge task to let audiences have a peek of what to expect, without giving too much away -- but then what is on display is spectacular in a seen-before way, and also hints at a complicated but uninspiring plot.

The trailer of Kalki 2898 AD, released with much fanfare, may not be doing the film any favours.

Far from speeding up the viewer's heartbeats, it evokes a so-what's-new? reaction.

Brahmastra had attempted this ancient-meets-modern template, and all it got in return for its audacity was corny memes from its youthful target audience.

Prabhas has the physique to play a warrior, so that's a tick on the plus side.

The film might turn out to be a game-changer as claimed, and the Kalki Universe might just take off, but it will still owe its gee-whizery to Hollywood movies.

Like the wait for the Kalki avatar, the yearning for a truly original Indian superhero film will go on for a while longer.