Kalki Review: Misplaced machismo, all through

The police in ‘Kalki’ hardly ever do the things they are supposed to do.

The police in ‘Kalki’ hardly ever do the things they are supposed to do.

A local goon runs out of the police station with flames eating up every inch of his body. Behind him, one catches the hero walking out with a swagger, donning dark glasses and with a cigarette on his lips. He then stands tall in front of the station display board and demands his subordinates to remove the ‘Janamaithri’ from the board. This introduction scene for the hero in Kalki is his statement of intent.

Just like in this scene, Kalki wears its philosophy, belonging to the medieval ages, on its sleeve for much of its duration. The story is set in an imaginary village ‘Nanjankotta’, which is ruled by feudal lord Amarnath and his goons. In furthering the electoral ambitions of their right wing political party DYP, they had driven out the Tamil population from the village. The entire village, including the police station, is under their control, until the arrival of the new Sub Inspector (Tovino Thomas).

Once the hero comes in, it is hard to differentiate between the policemen and the goons. One fact which stands out is that police in this movie hardly ever do the things the police are supposed to do. For, that would deprive Kalki of his excuse for heroism. At one point, a subordinate tells him that a suspect is not revealing much, despite the beatings. The hero tells him – “Uruttaam” (an inhuman practice of rolling a wooden log over the body), to loud cheers from the fans.

Even the supposedly humorous scenes in the movie are related to third degree torture. In one scene, another subordinate brings a bloodied chainsaw and asks him – “Sir, we have cut one of the goon’s legs. Since we have paid the rent for the whole day, can’t we make a better use of it and cut off the other leg too?” The hero gives the go ahead, to muted cheers from the fans.

The fact that all this is glorified on screen at a time when there is much controversy over police highhandedness and custodial torture, tells us how much the writers are disconnected from the world around them. Not that they are in any way in sync with their own craft. Working on a story which could have been considered fresh several decades back, they manage the feat of never even accidentally engaging the audience.

All the women put together have less than ten lines between them to deliver. Tovino has nothing much to do other than flexing his muscles and twirling his moustache. Kalki was touted as a mass entertainer. The ‘mass’ here does not seem to have anything to do with the people. It probably stands for muscles of the goons and the hero, which are the stars of this sorry show.

S.R. Praveen

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Printable version | May 28, 2022 5:16:38 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/misplaced-machismo-all-through/article28981418.ece