Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Reveal ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ Details

The stars of “Kalki 2898 AD” revealed details of the anticipated Indian sci-fi epic at a national press launch in Mumbai on Wednesday.

While a budget for the film has not been officially revealed, Variety understands that it is in the region of $72 million. If correct, that would make it one of the most expensive Indian films of all time.

The event, at a suburban five-star hotel, began a mere 75 minutes late – par for the course for Bollywood, but highly unusual for the disciplined south Indian Telugu-language film industry where “Kalki 2898 AD” hails from. The ranks of media from across India waited patiently and greeted the arrival of the stars with fanboy and fangirl whoops and cheers.

Present at the launch were the film’s stars, Prabhas, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Deepika Padukone, and producers C. Aswani Dutt, Swapna Dutt and Priyanka Dutt of Vyjayanthi Movies, with “Baahubali” star Rana Daggubati serving as compere for the evening.

The film is written and directed by Nag Ashwin (“Mahanati”) who was not present at the event but sent a video message that provided setting details. Ashwin revealed that the film is set in a dystopian, post-catastrophic world with scarce resources, where a single city, Kasi, remains. The wealthy live in luxury within The Complex, a massive mega-city structure in the shape of an inverted pyramid that towers over Kasi. Those outside face harsh realities and aspire to make it into Kasi. A hidden refuge, Shambala, offers shelter for people from all cultures and religions.

In Hindu mythology, Kalki is the 10th and final incarnation of the god Vishnu who appears in order to end the Kali Yuga, the darkest period in mankind’s history. 

In “Kalki 2898 AD,” Bachchan plays Ashwatthama, an immortal character from ancient Indian epic “Mahabharata.” “It’s been a truly wonderful experience, to have worked in a setup where they’ve actually gone beyond thinking what most of us have been doing all our lives in the film industry,” Bachchan said. “And I really appreciate the fact that we’re moving a little ahead of times, and making us a part of that and making us work in conditions that we never thought we would be able to work. So, I want to congratulate Nag and the production, for thinking something like this, it’s been a great honor.”

Haasan plays the antagonist, Supreme Yaskin. “I always wanted to play the bad man because the bad man gets to do all the good things in the film, when heroes are singing romantic songs and waiting for the heroine, where you can just go and do what you want,” Haasan said.  

Heavily pregnant Padukone (she’s due in September) who plays a pregnant character named Sumathi, joked about method acting. “It’s been a great learning experience. A completely new world and we went through different phases of discovering what this movie is all about. The magic that is in Nagi’s [Nag Ashwin] head is now here finally for everyone to see. We as actors have discovered that along the way. It’s been an incredible experience, at both a personal and professional level,” Padukone said.

Prabhas, who plays the protagonist Bhairava, said that working with his co-stars and a production of this scale was “bigger than a dream.”

Some hitherto unseen footage from the film was played at the event, which also featured drummers and an a capella rendition of the theme song.

“Kalki 2898 AD” is due a worldwide theatrical release on June 27 in the Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and English languages.

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