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Kalki Is A Whopping Spectacle Filled With Sound & Fury Signifying Something




Rating: ****

It’s been a long wait for this repeatedly  postponed big-screen epic buoyed  by  an eyecatching grandeur  and pickled by  passionate  penchant for  hand-to-hand combats.

The wait, as they say, has been worth  its weight in bold.

With  Kalki 2898 AD, Indian cinema reaches  a new threshold of optical opulence. To say  that every frame  of this  film exudes  an  apogean density would  be an understatement. To also  say that this is  Amitabh Bachchan’s  best written  role in years—after  being grossly misused  in  a series  of  recent films—would be stating the obvious.

 There is a fine line dividing visual resplendence from  an emotional  intensity. Director Nag Ashwin who has also  written the sprawling screenplay, walks that  line achieving  a rare synthesis  of perilous stunts  and a  deeply moving story  of a pregnant  woman trying to protect  her child from apocalyptic  marauders in  a futuristic tryst with  mythology .

The  profound  connection drawn between  the principal characters of the Mahabharat and  their  futuristic  avatars, is never overdone. Director Nag Ashwin proves himself  the master of measured epicness. Many times, you feel he is heading into an excessively overdesigned action mode. But  then he pulls  back just in time, creating a  kind of orgasmic control where less is definitely more.

Then again  at other  times, the action sequences, hugely inspired by George  Miller’s Mad Max series, overstay their welcome. The primary contender for the can-we-stop-now-please immoderation is  Prabhas’  introductory fight which  is  clearly inspired  by Jackie Chan’s amusement  poke …you know, snoozing in the middle  a ferocious fight to confuse his adversaries, stopping mid-punch for a chat with Ram Gopal Varma (I kid you not) who  plays  a streetside food vendor named(I kid you not)Chintu.Editor Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao needed to be  less indulgent  with some of the  action  before interval.

 Varma as Chintu  is not the least amusing.  The same goes for Rajamouli who shows up in the toasted-brown desertscape chase sequence(clearly modelled  on Mad Max Fury Road) probably for the  fun ride. These distractions tend to chip away at the  heart  of  the  plot, which beats at a rapid pace and  indicates a  state  of visual virility never seen  before in Indian cinema. I know  everyone probably wanted to be part of what they clearly saw as a landmark film. But guys, you are  getting in the way.

The  kinetic  storytelling is  anchored  largely  by Amitabh  Bachchan’s  Ashwathama  tasked by  destiny to protect a womb with  a  view into a  peaceful future. A lot of the super-human hefting that he  is  made to in in the screenplay recalls his one-man-against-the-world  casting in the past.  It is  an  ingenious piece of casting , and one that only  a visionary  director can think of.

For sure Nag Ashwin is a master creator, plunging into the  bowels of a dystopian dissension that  is at once  feral and tender.The tenderness comes in the  gentle graceful presence   of Deepika Padukone. She is  the mother, the womb which needs to be protected  from harm if the world is to survive. She  is  passionately parabolic and  yet so human frail and  vulnerable!

 Deepika’s  bonding with the  livewire Kaira(Anna Ben , superb)  is  one of the highlights of  this  giant of a cinematic  achievement  which merits  a  standing ovation for taking  Indian cinema , kicking  and dragging, to an international level without making a song  and dance of it:  there is no singing and dancing in the three-hour storytelling , except for Prabhas breaking into  a jig in the middle of a mortal combat. Rolling  of the eyes.

 Prabhas is the comic relief  of  Kalki,  and I mean that  in the  most positive  way possible.  He is  selfdeprecatory  in his street wisdom  in a film filled with  an ancient  wisdom and  a futuristic pride.The film is shot by cinematographer Djordje Stojiljkovic as if  apocalypse was a poetic condition camouflaged in despoliation.

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 is active or  just the makeup.

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