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Introduction: Kalki 2898 AD

Kalki 2898 AD is an upcoming Indian epic science fiction action film written and directed by Nag Ashwin. Produced by C. Aswani Dutt under Vyjayanthi Movies, it was shot primarily in Telugu with some scenes reshot in Hindi, Inspired by Hindu scriptures, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic world, in the year 2898 AD.

It is the first motion picture instalment of the planned Kalki Cinematic Universe. The film stars Prabhas in the titular role alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Deepika Padukone and Disha Patani in Kalki 2898 AD.

First announced in February 2020, Kalki‘s production faced a year’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming finally began in July 2021 at a futuristic set at Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad, and continued sporadically in several legs over the next three years before wrapping in March 2024.

Made on a ₹600 crore (US$72 million) production budget, Kalki is the most expensive Indian film. Its music is scored by Santhosh Narayanan, with cinematography by Djordje Stojiljkovic, production design by Nitin Zihani Choudhary and editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao in Kalki 2898 AD.

Kalki 2898 AD was initially scheduled to release on 9 May 2024, but was postponed due to the 2024 Indian general election. It is now scheduled to release worldwide on 27 June 2024 in theaters.

Premise

Set against the backdrop of Indian mythology and a dystopian society in the city of Kasi (Varanasi), the film chronicles a journey spanning millennia, from the events of the Mahabharata in the year of 3102 BC (the beginning of Kali Yuga) to 2898 AD. The core of the narrative revolves around the enigmatic figure of Kalki, the tenth and final avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu.

Cast of Kalki 2898 AD

  • Prabhas as Bhairava
  • Amitabh Bachchan as Ashwatthama
  • Kamal Haasan
  • Deepika Padukone
  • Disha Patani
  • Rajendra Prasad
  • Saswata Chatterjee as Commander Manas
  • Brahmanandam as Rajan
  • Pasupathy as Veeran
  • Anna Ben as Kyra
  • Keerthy Suresh as BU-JZ-1 alias Bujji, Bhairava’s companion AI droid/vehicle (voice-over)

Production

Development

After the success of Mahanati in 2019, Nag Ashwin stated that he had been working on an original story and screenplay for a long time which would begin production soon. That August, Vyjayanthi Movies announced that the production would begin in September and posted a casting call for visual artists, designers and writers.

Prabhas was revealed by the production house on 26 February 2020, coinciding 50th year since the establishment of their studio, to be the lead actor of the film. Tentatively titled #PrabhasNagAshwin and #Prabhas21, Ashwin stated that the initial plans were begin filming by late 2020, and release the film by late 2021 in multiple languages, however, the following May, producer C. Aswani Dutt stated that filming would begin in October that year and it would release in 2022.

Casting

Deepika Padukone

Amitabh Bachchan

Kamal Haasan

In July 2020, Hindi film actress Deepika Padukone was signed to play the lead role opposite Prabhas. Padukone felt that she was “beyond thrilled” to join the production while Ashwin stated that her character would be a “surprise” as it was something which “no mainstream lead has [ever] done before”.

The film marks Padukone’s debut in Telugu cinema. Bollywood Hungama reported that her role was initially “not substantial” but was improved to suit her stardom. In October, Amitabh Bachchan was cast in a full-length role in the film. Ashwin stated that his role was “so important that his character’s name was the working title of an early draft”.

The film would be Bachchan’s first full-length role in a Telugu film, following his cameo appearances in Manam (2014) and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy (2019).

In May 2022, Disha Patani joined the cast, marking her return to Telugu cinema after Loafer (2015). In June 2023, Kamal Haasan joined the cast, marking his return to Telugu cinema after Cheekati Rajyam (2015).

He described his role as a cameo. In August 2023, Dulquer Salmaan revealed to the media that he visited the sets of the film although the actor never confirmed or denied his role in the film. In February 2024, Anna Ben joined the cast, marking her debut in Telugu and Hindi cinema.

Pre-production

The film was recognised as “Project K” which served as the working title of the film. Ashwin stated that the film needed high-end technology and futuristic vehicles to be developed for the film.

While they can be recreated using computer-generated imagery (CGI), Ashwin wanted them to feel “authentic and genuine”, therefore opted to build these vehicles from scratch with a dedicated team of engineers. In March 2022, Ashwin requested businessman Anand Mahindra to provide technical support to build such type of vehicles.

A few days later, Mahindra responded that their company Mahindra & Mahindra would assist the production team from their Mahindra Research Valley campus in Chennai. In July 2021, the makers have erected a futuristic set at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad where a significant portion of filming is expected to take place.

In August 2020, A. R. Rahman was initially approached to compose music for the film. Rahman did not sign the film, and Ashwin retained technicians from his earlier film Mahanati (2018), namely, composer Mickey J. Meyer and cinematographer Dani Sanchez-Lopez. But later, Serbian cinematographer, Djordje Stojiljkovic, replaced Dani Sanchez-Lopez as the official cinematographer of the film.

In February 2023, Dutt stated in an interview that Santhosh Narayanan replaced Meyer as the composer, along with a female Bollywood composer composing a song for the film. Singeetam Srinivasa Rao joined the project to serve as a mentor.

Kalki 2898 AD was estimated to be mounted at a budget of ₹600 crore (US$72 million), making it the most expensive Indian film ever made.

Filming

Ramoji Film City, where parts of the film were shot

Initially, the film was planned to begin its regular shoot in November 2020. However, it was postponed to the following year due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Principal photography commenced in Hyderabad in July 2021 on the occasion of Guru Purnima, following a muhurtam shot featuring Bachchan. Prabhas and Padukone joined the production in December 2021 and scenes featuring Bachchan, Prabhas and Padukone were shot. The second schedule of the shoot took place in February 2022.

Instead of shooting the entire film in a single stretch, the team divided its 80–90 days of shoot into 7–8 days every month. This allowed the production team to take time and prepare the gadgets and props to be used in the film.

Therefore, the production of the film was expected to take longer than usual. DIY Arri Alexa 65 camera was used to shoot the film, thus making it the first Indian film to use this technology.

Prabhas was expected to start filming his solo portions in April 2022. however, his knee surgery led to a delay of his upcoming projects including Salaar and Kalki 2898 AD. 90% of the shoot was done in sets built in Ramoji Film City.

In June, Bachchan shot for a scene at Raidurg metro station. In July, Padukone and Prabhas shot for a car chase sequence in Hyderabad. Prabhas completed shooting the majority of his portions by the end of this schedule.

Principal photography of the film was expected to be completed by January 2023, following which post-production and visual effects works would take around 8 months. However, the film was still being shot in March 2023 when Bachchan injured his ribs and was advised to take rest in Mumbai. Around 70% of the filming was completed by June 2023. A romantic track featuring Prabhas and Disha Patani was filmed in Italy in March 2024 including at the Royal Palace of Casera.

Marketing

Kalki 2898 AD team at the 2023 San Diego Comic-Con

The film’s first look was released on 19 July 2023. Kalki 2898 – A.D became the first Indian film to be presented at San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall-H on 20 July 2023, where the makers unveiled the official title and glimpse, this had been preceded by the release of a limited comic-strip panel of an important scene in the film between “The Raiders” (followers of Kali) and Bhairava.

The title is a reference to Kalki, an avatar of Vishnu in Hindu eschatology according to the Bhagavata Purana, and 3102 BC – traditionally thought to be the beginning of Kali Yuga after the Mahabharata War (the film being set 6,000 years into the Kali Yuga, the era of the asura/demon Kali).

On the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, the makers released a poster revealing Prabhas’s character as Bhairava. A new teaser introducing the character Ashwatthama was unveiled on 21 April 2024.

Inspired by the immortal character from the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, Ashwatthama was portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan. On 27 April, the makers announced the new release date with a poster featuring Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone.

On 30 April 2024, Prabhas took fans of cinema and cricket by surprise as he appeared as Bhairava for an IPL promotional video during Lucknow Super Giants vs Mumbai Indians. On 2 May 2024, Amitabh Bachchan appeared in his character of Ashwatthama where he delivered a motivational speech to the Indian cricket team as they prepare for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

On 22 May 2024, in an event in Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, a teaser introducing Prabhas’ Robot sidekick AI humanoid vehicle “Bujji” was released. Anand Mahindra wrote that “we are so proud of Nag Ashwin and his tribe of filmmakers who aren’t afraid to think big” while he shared that the engineers at Mahindra Research Valley helped the Kalki 2898 AD team realize its vision for the futuristic vehicle.

On 27 May 2024, the makers and Amazon Prime Video announced a two-part animated prelude, titled Bujji and Bhairava, which was released on the platform on 31 May 2024 as part of “The Kalki Cinematic Universe”.

kalki 2898 ad release date

Theatrical

Initially aimed for a 2022 release and then scheduled to January 2024, it was delayed to 9 May 2024 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and production work. It got postponed again from 9 May 2024 to 27 June 2024 owing to the 2024 Indian general election.

It is being planned to be released in Telugu and Hindi, with dubbed versions in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and English.

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