Bachchan, Haasan are set to storm our screens: Anupama Chopra on Kalki and Indian 2 - Hindustan Times
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Bachchan, Haasan are set to storm our screens: Anupama Chopra on Kalki and Indian 2

Jun 22, 2024 03:43 PM IST

With nearly 120 years of acting experience between them, it is a joy to see these veterans still vital, vibrant and, yes, violent.

“Vanakkam India. Indian is back,” the great Kamal Haasan, in prosthetics, playing the aged but lethal killing machine Senapathy, declares in the introduction to Indian 2.

Bachchan is a melancholy and brooding Ashwatthama in Kalki 2898 AD.‘They really want to be part of the process. They want to be directed. And they don’t want to do what they’ve done before,’ director Nag Ashwin says, of Bachchan and Haasan. PREMIUM
Bachchan is a melancholy and brooding Ashwatthama in Kalki 2898 AD.‘They really want to be part of the process. They want to be directed. And they don’t want to do what they’ve done before,’ director Nag Ashwin says, of Bachchan and Haasan.

The sequel comes 28 years after Indian. That 1996 film was about a fictional freedom fighter who once fought alongside Subhash Chandra Bose. Aghast at the rampant corruption in the country that he sacrificed so much for, Senapathy comes up with a radical solution: murder. He cleans up, killing with a knife and effectively using his knowledge of the martial art of Varma Kalai (taught in the advanced stages of Kalaripayattu).

Indian, with its thrilling mix of vigilante justice, pop-patriotism, jaw-dropping dance sequences and a thumping AR Rahman soundtrack, was a blockbuster. Haasan won a National Award for his performance as both Senapathy and Chandru, the son he is forced to kill.

In Indian 2, due for release in July, we will see Senapathy flush out corruption again. Once again, Haasan will take to action with panache. He has already demonstrated a keen talent for this in Vikram (2022), which was also a blockbuster.

There, he plays a former commander of a black-ops squad who is now leading a vigilante gang in a fight against drugs. In one of the film’s most memorable sequences, he shoots down goons in his house while boiling milk for his grandson. You can watch the clip on the DisneyPlus Hotstar channel on YouTube, in a compilation of his best action scenes in the film. The clip is titled One Man Army | Kamaal Kamal’s Killer Moments. Haasan is 69.

Meanwhile, Amitabh Bachchan, who is 81, is also going back into angry man mode. One of the most thrilling elements in the trailer for Kalki 2898 AD features the legendary actor as Ashwatthama.

In the Mahabharata, Dronacharaya’s son is cursed by Krishna with immortal life, because he attempts to use the ultimate weapon, the Brahmastra, to attack the pregnant Uttara and end the line of the Pandavas.

In the film, an aged Ashwatthama, melancholy and brooding, promises to protect the unborn child of a character played by Deepika Padukone. This child is Kalki, the tenth avatar of Vishnu.

In the trailer, a young boy tells Ashwatthama that his “jung” or battle has begun again, and Bachchan shows off some nifty moves with a stick-like weapon. The film also stars Haasan, as Yaskin, the uber-villain and supreme commander of this futuristic, dystopian world. I am hoping we get to see a face-off between the two.

It’s been 55 years since Bachchan made his debut with Saat Hindustani (1969). Haasan started out even earlier, as a child artist in the 1960 Tamil film Kalathur Kannamma. That was 64 years ago. Between them, they have nearly 120 years of acting experience. It’s thrilling to see them both still vital, vibrant and, yes, violent.

In an interview, Nag Ashwin, director of Kalki 2898 AD, told me that both veterans remain open to instruction. “They really want to be part of the process,” he said. “They want to be directed. And they don’t want to do what they’ve done before.”

Which is, of course, a big part of what makes them the legends that they are. I hope younger actors are taking notes.

(To reach Anupama Chopra with feedback, email feedbackforanu@gmail.com)

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