Amitabh Bachchan as Ashwatthama in Kalki 2898 AD
(AA Films)

India’s Biggest Dystopian Sci-Fi Film Looks Worth Your Time

Move over, Lisan al Gaib, there’s another messiah incoming! The most expensive Indian film ever made, a dystopian science-fiction action epic directed by Nag Ashwin, Kalki 2898 AD has finally confirmed a release date for June.

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The anticipation for this film, which was first announced in 2020 but took over three years to complete, is through the roof for several reasons. Made on a budget of $72 million U.S., Kalki 2898 AD, previously codenamed Project-K, boasts of a star-studded cast that includes Prabhas (Baahubali), Amitabh Bachchan (The Great Gatsby), Kamal Haasan (Dasavathaaram), Deepika Padukone (Jawan), Disha Patani, Brahmanandam, Saswata Chatterjee, and more. That’s one expensive cast right there!

For the film, a futuristic set was constructed at the Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, India, and to give the automobiles and tech used in the film an authentic look and feel, instead of CGI, director Nag Ashwin brought onboard the Indian automobile manufacturing company Mahindra & Mahindra to help the production team build these vehicles from scratch.

A shot from Kalki 2898 AD
(AA Films)

When is Kalki 2898 AD releasing?

The film has had several changes in its release date. After aiming for a May 2024 release, it was once again postponed due the general elections held in India in the same month. However, the film now has a confirmed release date of June 27, 2024.

The pan-Asian film will release in Telugu and Hindi, and be dubbed in English, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam.

What is Kalki 2898 AD about?

Prabhas as Bhairava in Kalki 2898 AD
(AA Films)

The film is an original story and screenplay inspired from Hindu scriptures and mythology, primarily the story of the Mahabharata war, and the legend of an immortal warrior from the war, known as Ashwatthama. 

According to Hindu scriptures, there are four “Yuga,” or eras in the wheel of time, and every Yuga has its own battle of good vs. evil. Currently, we are in the fourth Yuga, known as the Kali Yuga, an era of darkness. Kalki is the tenth avatar (incarnation) of the deity Lord Vishnu, born on Earth to end the era of injustice, corruption, deceit, and evil, known as the Kali Yug or Kali Era. 

Kalki 2898 AD Trailer Decoded

From the trailer, it can be pieced together that Kalki 2898 AD is set in a dystopian society in the city of Kasi, the only city that has survived the apocalypse. (Interestingly, Kashi or Varanasi, in India, is known to be one of the oldest living cities in the world.) This desert city is ruled with a totalitarian regime by Supreme Yaksin (Kamal Haasan) from his seat, an inverted pyramid megacity hovering in the sky, known as the Complex, which is brimming with all the greenery and resources the world below doesn’t have.

Apart from these two worlds, there’s also Shambala, a sort of Resistance city and refuge for all those hunted by the Complex, closely tied to the legend of this messiah Kalki. A woman (Deepika Padukone) carrying an unborn child, believed to be Kalki, is hunted by the Complex, which sends a bounty hunter named Bhairava (Prabhas) to capture her. She is protected by an immortal warrior from the Mahabharata war, called Ashwatthama (Amitabh Bachchan).

Deepika Padukone as Sum-80 in Kalki 2898 AD

Kalki 2898 AD, which shows influences of Mad Max and Dune in its visuals, is also the first Indian film to ever be presented at San Diego Comic Con’s famed Hall H, where the film’s first look was revealed last July. An official trailer has been released on June 19, 2024, with a grand event in Mumbai attended by the cast. A prelude to the film, a miniseries called Bhairava and Bujji, about the bounty hunter and an AI pilot of a cargo ship, has been released on Prime Video.

And from the reactions to the trailer, it seems like all of the time, effort, and dollars spent on the film could just be worth it.

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Jinal Bhatt
Jinal Bhatt (She/Her) is a staff writer for The Mary Sue. An editor, writer, film and culture critic with 7+ years of experience, she writes primarily about entertainment, pop culture trends, and women in film, but she’s got range. Jinal is the former Associate Editor for Hauterrfly, and Senior Features Writer for Mashable India. When not working, she’s fangirling over her favourite films and shows, gushing over fictional men, cruising through her neverending watchlist, trying to finish that book on her bedside, and fighting relentless urges to rewatch Supernatural.