Kalki 2898 AD

wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)

quick review:

2898AD…when asking, ‘Why?’ seems to be the most illogical thing to do. Though, we as an audience are seasoned for that, right? But, 175/180 minutes of boredom! How are we to handle that?

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Director: Nag Ashwin
Running time: 180 minutes
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If you can believe that Tom Cruise defies death by jumping off high cliffs and tall buildings, what’s your problem with accepting Shah Rukh Khan doing it? If you can engage with dystopia from Hollywood, what’s your argument against a similar dystopia set in India? The thing is sometimes, it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it doesn’t. I, for one, have lost interest, in gloomy dystopian set-ups, whether they are grey or sepia, like this one. Now, if it has an engaging narrative, then we are on! This one’s game is so off though.

If only the film didn’t have one boring, excruciatingly slow, and awfully choreographed action scene after another.

The visual effects merging with the live action were jarring to begin with. Despite all my efforts, I couldn’t settle in with the comic strip aesthetic. The patchiness is the culprit—roughly and obviously treated voices, staggered-fragmented dialogue delivery, frog-like jumpy logic in the story-telling—are just some examples of the bumps added to the three-hour tour through the makers’ imagination of a world 874 years from now.

Sure, the treatment given to the vocals, both singing and speaking, might have come across as jarring to me because I watched a dubbed show in Hindi. The same can be partly blamed for the dialogue delivery too. But the plot skipping two steps in logic, and sometimes ten and a half, is extremely difficult to get over.

Ironically, this stands out even more because the movie does some bits well every once in a while. How we come to know what is becoming of the women in confinement is done well, for instance. I also liked the idea of the impact of an evil person’s tears. Is “Complex” made to sound like “Congress” intentionally, or is that just a coincidence? If the latter, then a catchphrase I caught must also be a fluke, right?

Some references—to Mahabharata, obviously, some of which work like a person gambling dear ones away; or like how the good and evil of the past have to come together to save the world; or to Christianity like with immaculate conception—are done subtly enough contrary to the rest of the film’s tone. There is no subtlety with the Buddhist iconography though and some religions are conspicuous by their absence.

So yeah, that is pretty much it. You can barely talk about the good without running into the unenjoyable. For other problems and problematic issues loom larger. Like the rather crass remark on feminism. Let alone that, right why-oh-why was Roxy played by Disha Patani in the film?!

It’s telling, right? That the only actor-character I feel like talking about, is the one who is on screen for all of 6.895 minutes. Not that Deepika Padukone or Prabhas aren’t noticeable. Just that these roles are likely to be easier than doing in their sleep for any actor, let alone them. Of course, Amitabh Bachchan’s breath alone, which is how he is introduced, makes his baritone’s presence felt, and how! No one is complaining. Come on, I mean, he is convincing as a 6,000-year-old, no extra zeroes there.

But the plot skipping two steps in logic, and sometimes ten and a half, is extremely difficult to get over.

If only he wasn’t involved in one boring, slow fight sequence after another. If only the film didn’t have one boring, excruciatingly slow, and awfully choreographed action scene after another.

That brings me back to what I started with. The problem with being like films from outside India is ok when there is contextualisation. But if you are just going to make one of your main characters look and behave like one of the not-so-main characters from Dune, it feels like you don’t believe in your creativity. It’s not that it doesn’t exist, creativity, you see glimpses of it. Just that it is nowhere close to being enough.

- meeta, a part of the audience

33 reviewers(?) - 19 yays 13 so-so 1 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...In spite of an incoherent first-half Kalki leaves us with a deep impression, largely for the way Amitabh Bachchan’s Ashwathama has been projected. Kamal Haasan’s creepy part as some kind of evil messiah, lasts for barely ten minutes. His prosthetics are so elaborate it is hard to tell whether the actors are active or just the makeup.... full review

Thumbs up, by Smrity Sharma, Bollywood Life : ...There are some unexpected cameos in the first half and more lined up in the second half as well. However, despite such a cast and character heavy narrative, everyone seems to have their well deserved space in the storyline, even the AI assistance Bujji.... full review

Thumbs up, by Taher Ahmed, Deccan Herald : ...This mega starrer begins slowly but picks up the pace towards the end, with the promise of an even better sequel.... full review

Thumbs up, by Abhimanyu Mathur, DNA : ...But Kalki is more than just the visuals. Nag Ashwin’s beautiful marriage of mythology, dystopia, science-fiction, and world-building is what sets it apart from other films.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sagar Tetali, Film Companion : ...- [ ] The marriage of mythology and science-fiction shouldn’t work as well as it does, but the attention to detail in crafting a world where the two can meet makes it work. Endure its flaws, make sure you watch it in 2D, and there’s a lot of fun to be had... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Watch the film for of its VFX wizardry, impeccable acting by the entire cast and the confrontation scenes between Amitabh Bachchan and Prabhas.... full review

Thumbs up, by Murtuza Iqbal, Filmi Beat : ...Overall, Kalki 2898 AD is a visually grand film, narrated wonderfully by Nag Ashwin. Amitabh Bachchan is simply excellent, and other actors also leave a mark. So, it is surely A Must Watch... full review

Thumbs up, by "Sai Tulasi Neppali ", fullhyd.com : ...Kalki 2898 AD arguably pushes the boundaries of the "pan-India film" label to its farthest extent. But it many ways, Nag's ambitious project, and the most expensive Indian film made yet, wants to be seen as not just pan-Indian, but trans-India.... full review

Thumbs up, by Neeshita Nyayapati, Hindustan Times : ...Kalki 2898 AD might not be flawless, but it’s gutsy and intriguing enough to be watched on-screen. Nag has always excelled at human emotion (Yevade Subramanyam, Mahanati), and this film works because of that. As fun as it is to see a superhero-style sci-fi film from Telugu cinema to pushes the boundaries of what can be done, it works because you care about some of these characters. Here’s hoping the sequel is even bigger and better.... full review

Thumbs up, india today : ...Composer Santhosh Narayanan, with his background music, gave life to the music. The elevation scenes featuring Prabhas, Kamal Haasan, Deepika Padukone and Amitabh Bachchan turned out to be epic because of his score.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sakshi Verma, India TV : ...Kalki 2898 AD is a pure build-up for what's coming next in the sequel. The film is purely fictional but makes you believe that it is reality. Its larger-than-life spectacle transports you to Kashi, Complex and Shambala. The choice of actors and their perfect portrayal make this film a must-watch. Nag Ashwin's concepts are of good level and spark imaginative experiences. However, the msuci of Kalki 2898 AD is another underwelming part of this film. But Nag Ashwin directorial's epic battles, clap-worthy VFX, high points and surprise elements clearly deserve four stars. If you are a fan of action and sci-fi films, Kalki 2898 AD is just the one for you.... full review

Thumbs up, by Divya Shah, India-Forums : ...Kalki 2898 AD is an ambitious film that pushes the boundaries of Indian cinema. While it has its flaws, particularly in the first half, it more than makes up for...... full review

Thumbs up, indiaglitz : ...Verdict: Kalki 2898 AD a slow build with visually stunning and emotionally powerful journey but culminates in an explosive finale.... full review

Thumbs up, by "Shalmesh More ", koimoi : ...On the whole, Kalki 2898 AD has a share of both positives and negatives, but the good thing is that positives are overpowering the downers. The craving to watch a visually stunning film, a brave attempt to create something unique, and a show-stealing performance by Amitabh Bachchan will help the film put on a solid show at the Indian box office.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sameer Ahire, Movie Talkies : ...Kalki 2898 AD had no scope for music, and whatever music we have is pretty dull. It was a total waste of time. What makes this film slow? The songs, the editing, the melodramatic score, and the outdated execution. It wasn’t necessary to stretch the film for 3 hours; I mean, it could have easily been trimmed by 30 minutes,... full review

Thumbs up, by Dishya Sharma, News18.com : ...Even the writing of the first half lacked the punch. It is boring and confusing but wait for the second half of the film. The film develops post-interval and starts to fall into place. You finally begin to understand what was happening in the first half and the plot becomes clear. It then plays on the intriguing factor and makes you wonder, ‘What will happen next?’ It combines action with visual spectacle and mythology with technology and science – which makes the film worth watching.... full review

Thumbs up, by Gouthams, Pinkvilla : ...The movie Kalki 2898 AD is just the beginning of a cinematic universe that has the potential to become the greatest experience in Indian cinema. With each character serving their own purposes, the film successfully connects the world of sci-fi and myth under a single umbrella.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Kalki 2898 AD’s spectacle set in a timeline far, far away is just the beginning of a franchise that’s got a whole lot of dramatic confrontations, spirited battles and mythical madness on its mind.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...Kalki 2898 AD’ is undeniably a larger-than-life visual spectacle that transports viewers into a vividly imagined universe. In fact, the film’s visual quality is so high that it overshadows many of its obvious flaws by engaging the audience into the atmospherics of the make-believe world of Kasi and the Complex.... full review

So-So, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...Every time Kalki 2898 AD got a little dull or tangential, I tried to look at the brighter side. After all, it takes guts for a movie of this magnitude to be just alright in an age of lofty adjectives. Which, if you think about it, is an impressive act of dissent... full review

So-So, by Sruthi Ganapathiy Raman, Film Companion : ...In the end, even if the film might be emotionally weak, its dark-horse-shaped Ashwatthama largely redeems its journey for audiences. Bachchan brings depth to this wounded character, making us feel his pain beyond just his wearied face and 8-feet structure.... full review

So-So, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Free Press Journal : ...Amitabh, Prabhas and Deepika are in their usual best forms. Ashwin uses the star powers quite aptly. But, to like Kalki 2898 AD, you need to be aware of Hindu Mythology, its gods, their motives, why and how Mahabharata happened and so on. Kalki 2898 AD is a technically potent kids' film that is enjoyable in parts.... full review

So-So, by Baradwaj Rangan, galatta.com : ...Bhairava is all technology and holograms, while Ashwathama is all about brute strength and traditional action moves. Kalki is certainly a towering technical achievement, but I wished it had been an emotional achievement as well.. Read more at: https://www.galatta.com/telugu/movie/review/kalki-2898-ad/... full review

So-So, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The only exception is a robot called Bujji (voiced by Keerthy Suresh), fashioned as Bhairava’s cutesy, smart-mouthed side-kick, who induces a smile. Kalki 2898 AD Movie Review Live Updates: Prabhas-starrer Kalki 2898 AD releases in theatres on June 27 Prabhas-starrer Kalki 2898 AD releases in theatres on June 27. And yes, this may have Prabhas as the headliner, but it is Amitabh Bachchan all the way: his Ashwatthama is suitably gravelly and epic-like, as he sets about roundly bashing and punching poor Bhairava, in one of the best set-pieces in the film. He towers over the film, both literally and metaphorically, reminding you of the Bachchan of yore, who ‘made the line begin where he stood’. As to Kamal Haasan, he comes on sparingly, and saves his best for the last, but being Kamal Haasan, does leave an impact.... full review

So-So, by Lekha Menon, Khaleej Times : ...In a nutshell, despite the praise-worthy scale, imagination and ambition, this 6000-year-old tale can be described as sci-fi-meets-mythology-meets-Marvel with comedy, tragedy, emotion, betrayal, mother angle and an item number. Sadly, too many ingredients do spoil the broth.... full review

So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...For a Telugu film, the violence is dialled down, an indication that Kalki 2898 AD has a family crowd in mind. Perhaps this and other concessions to gaining the widest possible audience—actors from across India, a litany of cameos, a song by Diljit Dosanjh—will pay off.... full review

So-So, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...I hope she got half her work-day’s worth, eventually. There is similarly the sequel lined up of Kalki; seemingly with several set-pieces, that are seriously second to none here, already. I’m looking forward to that. You could, to this, surely.... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Kalki 2898 AD has the firepower that an aspiring futuristic franchise needs and it harnesses it pretty well. So, for all its flaws, it does not ever careen out of control.... full review

So-So, by Isha Sharma, NewsBytes : ...Far from perfect, but not unwatchable; 3/5 stars While the film certainly feels naked at times because of the lack of events (it feels like the same sequences repeat), it's tough not to be impressed by Ashwin's vision, brought to life by DNEG's otherwordly visuals. For all its flaws, however, I would still recommend watching it on the big screen, because this is the best depiction of Mahabharata you'll ever see. Done!... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...There are cameos for Telugu directors SS Rajamouli and Ram Gopal Varma. Rajamouli’s character has an exchange with Bhairava that is meant as an inside joke about the Baahubali movies, which starred Prabhas. The last thing Kalki 2898 AD needs is a reminder of Rajamouli’s talent for localising Hollywood-style spectacle – borrowing and repurposing, rather than merely borrowing.... full review

So-So, by Sangeetha Devi Dundoo, The Hindu : ...Kalki’s narrative has several subtexts to decode, long after the film is over. The parallels drawn between Yaskin and Kamsa, the design of the Complex, the surroundings of Yaskin and the flying machine used by Manas. There is a lot to root for. If only it had sidestepped the lacklustre romance and the underwhelming dialogues to make for a more cohesive narrative. Despite these shortcomings, Kalki is a brave new attempt that deserves big cheers.... full review

So-So, by SUPARNA SHARMA, The Week : ...Watch Kalki 2898 AD for the crackling chemistry between Prabhas and Bachchan if you have the patience to sit through its first half.... full review

Thumbs down, Glamsham.com : ...Kalki had the potential to be a captivating blend of mythology and modern storytelling, but it ultimately falters due to its uneven pacing and inconsistent performances. Despite Amitabh Bachchan’s commendable efforts in the second half, the film cannot overcome its tedious first half and Prabhas’s underwhelming portrayal. Overall, Kalki is a missed opportunity that leaves much to be desired.... full review

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1 readers - 0 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

So-So, by Raj : Blue/Green Screen movies with Grey/Brown screen - Big YAWN..!

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Vishnu takes his 10th avatar. Wait, not yet. There are few wars to be fought before that.
  • General Look and Feel: Gloomy, dusty-dystopian sepia

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Kalki 2898 AD - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
180 minutes

Comments (2)

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Dear Meetu, I was eagerly waiting for your review. I am extremely happy reading it. I don't like blue/green screen movies with grey/brown shades. (never seen any). It puts me off. I was not hoping any redeemable quality in this movie too. But the Box-office is ringing, and seems that people (especially Indians) are loving it. Good for them.

I know what you mean! People like what they like and don't what they don't, like us :D

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