Home entertainment ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ trailer breakdown: From ‘Dune’ to ‘Blade Runner’, here are the sci-fi inspirations in Prabhas’ film FilmyMeet

‘Kalki 2898 AD’ trailer breakdown: From ‘Dune’ to ‘Blade Runner’, here are the sci-fi inspirations in Prabhas’ film FilmyMeet

by Arun Kumar
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Kalki 2898 AD has had Tinseltown in a frenzy unlike anything before, as Bhairava, Ashwatthama, Kali, and more made a stellar entrance earlier this week with the spectacular trailer of Nag Ashwin’s much-anticipated sci-fi epic. Hinting at a never-seen-before experience from an Indian production, the trailer made a splash with its mythological references, breathtaking action sequences, and pristine grand canvas visuals that could surely compete with Western counterparts. In fact, the trailer has already birthed many fan theories, and comparisons to tentpole sci-fi films from Hollywood seemed inevitable.

Here are some Hollywood productions that might have inspired Nag Ashwin’s upcoming film:

A wealthy sky city, and the search for a messaiah

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

Be it the skyscrapers of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or the underground bunkers of Prime Video’s Fallout, science fiction has depicted that when the chips fall down, the rich ensure they are far from the ‘clutches’ of the poor. From the trailer, Kalki 2898 AD seems to be set in a dystopian future where the richest of the rich rule over the poor from the sky city of Complex — a visual depiction of the wealth divide brings to mind the sky city of Zalem in 2019’sAlita: Battle Angel. Robert Rodriguez’s 2019 film, set in 2563, showed how the rich oppressed the poor and traced the journey of an amnesiac female cyborg — who we later learn is the last remaining member of one-of-a-kind cyborg shock troops — as she vows to go to Zalem and destroy her enemies.

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It shouldn’t come across as a shock if Kalki follows suit. In Hinduism, Kalki is the final incarnation of the god Vishnu who will appear as a messiah during the apocalypse (Kali Yuga), and like Vishnu’s avatar as Ram, Kalki is prophecied as a free sentient unaware of his real identity. The trailer of Kalki 2898 AD too hints at one such messianic figure (think Paul Atreides in Dune) who would take down the evil high society that rules this world. Now, who is the Messiah who was promised? Is it, as Amitabh Bachchan’s Ashwatthama says, the unborn child of Deepika Padukone’s character? Or is it Prabhas’ Bhairava? Regardless, Ashwatthama feels awfully like the Stilgar (Javier Bardem’s Fremen tribe leader in Dune) of this world, who will train Kalki to take down their enemies.

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

A high society that controls the people

It’s nearly inevitable for a post-apocalyptic society to function without a power struggle between an oppressive coalition and the have-nots. The concept of a high society seizing control was popularised in Star Wars, in which the Galactic Empire ruled the galaxy. The latest magnum opus to touch upon this was Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune, in which noble houses such as Atreides and Harkonnen fight for leadership. The Complex leaders in Kalki 2898 AD feel reminiscent of one similar high society. The difference in the landscape of Complex and the sand dunes outside the city of Kashi paints a stark picture.

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

A selfish protagonist who rises up to the occasion?

Quite the normalized trope in mainstream sci-fi: this messiah usually starts off as a dorky, irresponsible young man, narcissistic, and unaware of his potential or the destiny that awaits him. From Neo in The Matrix and Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy to Jake Sully in Avatar and Karthi’s Muthu in Aayirathil Oruvan, we have seen many such heroes and Bharaiva might be the latest addition. “In this world, you have to be on only one side: your own side,” says Bhairava, a bounty hunter, as he goes after Deepika’s character, only to be confronted by Ashwatthama.

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

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Units as a currency

Star Wars was possibly the first sci-fi film that explored how dystopian societies resort to a newer global currency for survival. Units-as-a-currency has since been a recurring trope in sci-fi films; like Units in Guardians of the Galaxy, the digital currency in the virtual reality world inReady Player One, Woolong in Cowboy Bebop, and Chin-Yen in Blade Runner among others. In Nag Ashwin’s film, we see Bhairava mention ‘Units’ as a currency for trade.

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

Mad Max-inspired vehicles and the Blade Runner spinner

The very first shot in the trailer shows a War Rig-like heavy-duty car riding through a desert, a frame that would make George Miller himself do a double take. Vehicles in the world of Kalki 2898 AD seem heavily inspired by sci-fi titles.

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

Bhairava’s Bujji, which got its own animated show recently, might remind you of the Batmobile in Dark Knight or the flying car, Spinner, in Blade Runner.

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

Another vehicle that makes a quick appearance is a hovercraft vehicle akin to the Chitauri Chariots in The Avengers and the Speeder Bikes in Star Wars.

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

A still from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

Futuristic weapons and shields

Sci-fi films have become iconic for featuring lightsabers, blasters, energy shields, and plasma rifles. With Kalki 2898 AD, we have the red and blue energy blasters made popular by Star Wars, invisible energy shields protecting structures on Complex (like the ones used by the alien invaders in Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day) and shields that remind one of the Wakandan kinetic energy-powered shields in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Stills from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

Stills from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

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Does Kali steal Ashwatamma’s mind stone?

Let’s get to what has birthed several theories already: what is the deal with Ashwatthama’s… Mind Stone? The trailer shows the ‘Mahabharata’ character in three different timelines — after the Kurukshetra war, while he still has the gem on his forehead, and without the gem but with a bloodied bandage around his forehead. This has given rise to many theories and speculations among fans, the most popular of which involves the reason behind Ashwatthama safeguarding the unborn child. According to the theories, Ashwatthama — now serving Krishna’s curse — wishes to save the child as penance for attempting to kill the unborn children of the Pandavas during the Kurukshetra War.

Stills from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

Stills from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube

This surely seems like a theory that might hold true in the film, but there are several unanswered questions as well. What is the red stone that a villain seems to be wielding? Is this the 6000-year-old energy that led to the creation of the unborn child? We also see a glow on the forehead of the antagonist Kali, played by superstar Kamal Haasan, and wonder, is he wielding Ashwatthama’s gem? Is that how he sees the future?

All questions will be answered when Kalki 2898 AD releases on June 27.

Stills from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’

Stills from the trailer of ‘Kalki 2898 AD’
| Photo Credit:
Vyjayanthi Network/YouTube



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