Bujji and Bhairava review: Decoding the world of Nag Ashwin's Kalki 2898 AD - Hindustan Times

Bujji and Bhairava review: Decoding the world of Nag Ashwin's Kalki 2898 AD

ByNeeshita Nyayapati
May 31, 2024 06:02 PM IST

The animated prelude of Kalki 2898 AD shows the world Bujji (Keerthy Suresh) and Bhairava (Prabhas) live in. The series is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Bujji and Bhairava review: Nag Ashwin’s highly anticipated Kalki 2898 AD, featuring the stellar cast of Prabhas, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, and Disha Patani, is set to release on June 27. As a prelude to this grand release, the director has unveiled a two-part animated series on Amazon Prime Video, introducing the characters of Bujji (Keerthy Suresh) and Bhairava (Prabhas). (Also Read: Prabhas on the high budget of Kalki 2898 AD: 'The whole film is made for international audiences’)

Bujji and Bhairava review: The animated prelude to Kalki 2898 AD sets up their friendship.
Bujji and Bhairava review: The animated prelude to Kalki 2898 AD sets up their friendship.

Bujji and Bhairava story

Set in 2896 AD in Kashi, Nag shows a world that has progressed, but not in ways that matter. BU-JZ-1 aka Bujji, is an AI bot on its 100th cargo run, which runs into trouble due to some rebels. Bhairava, a down-on-luck bounty hunter who creates chaos wherever he goes, is a nuisance in general and seems to owe everyone in town money. With the shared dream of a better life in Complex, Bujji and Bhairava set out to achieve it by building a vehicle.

Decoding the world of Kalki 2898 AD

In two short 14-minute episodes titled Crash and Burn, and Partners, Nag shows a fun world swathed in shades of neon and grey. But beneath it all is a grimy world of economic disparity. 

The currency in this world is in ‘units’ and it can be transferred through arm bands. Some people have to use oxygen canisters to breathe better and fresh mountain air can now be bought. Genius children can build holographic projectors, bounty hunters zoom around on super-fast bikes, the drinks are named Soma (which means distilled, extract, sprinkle in Vedic Sanskrit) and people still call out for God. 

Interestingly, a character mentions a place called Shambala in episode 1, that will believe be shown in the film. The banners in the street where Bhairava lives have words written in various languages, including foreign ones, indicating a truly globalised new culture).

It's indicated that the oppressors live in an inverted pyramid structure called Complex. A statue being built in the middle of town seems to reveal the leader. Complex stands intimidating, like a diamond in the rough, amid the toppling structures built on top of one another.

They seem to be getting the best of everything (including food) while everyone else struggles. Even the way people dress magnifies the disparity. While most of Kashi is dressed in tattered clothes, the guards at Complex wear sleek black uniforms. Complex seems to be an aspirational place for both humans and AI bots.

Bujji and Bhairava’s meet-cute

Despite the length of the episodes, Nag does a good job of bringing Bujji and Bhairava to life, though the animation could’ve been smoother. Bhairava is the kind of man who will steal lollipops from children, but underneath it all, he seems to have a soft heart. Bujji is conniving and cheeky, no matter how dire the circumstances.

The focus of the prelude is to establish the relationship between them and show how they come to trust each other in an unjust world. And despite the medium, Nag does a good job of establishing that, showing how Bujji and Bhairava go from warring to becoming partners-in-crime. As for how they drive the story of Kalki 2898 AD, it remains to be seen.

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