VFX Exclusive interview: Nag Ashwin and team on 'B&B: Bujji and Bhairava' and expanding the 'Kalki' universe

Exclusive interview: Nag Ashwin and team discuss ‘B&B: Bujji and Bhairava’ and expanding the ‘Kalki’ universe

Ahead of the theatrical release of the live-action feature film Kalki 2898 AD, the team unveiled B&B: Bujji and Bhairavaan animated prelude to this eagerly awaited Prabhas-starrer.

Directed by Nag Ashwin and produced by Vyjayanthi Movies, Kalki 2898 AD is a sci-fi action starring Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Haasan, Prabhas, Deepika Padukone and Disha Patani. The film’s animated prelude Bujji & Bhairava sets the stage for the cinematic universe, exploring the bond between the film’s character Bhairava (played by Prabhas) and Bujji, an AI-powered next-generation vehicle.

The four-episode mini-series, helmed by Nag Ashwin and co-directed by Sahen Upadhyay, with additional writing contributions from Sonam Shekhawat and Sarwanga Kumar, delves deep into the backstory and adventures of Bujji and Bhairava.

Nag Ashwin

Shekhawat, known for her work with major studios like Warner Bros. Discovery, Disney, Netflix, AVM Studios, Green Gold Animation and Reliance Animation, shared her experience working on the project. “It was a wonderful experience working with Nag Ashwin, especially because he gave us the creative liberty to write the story. His open-mindedness as a director also empowered us to go all out in terms of experimenting with the writing,” she told AnimationXpress.

In a recent interview with AnimationXpress, Nag Ashwin shared his vision for using animation to enrich the audience’s connection with familiar characters before they hit the big screen. He expressed, “I’ve always found it more engaging to revisit characters we’re already invested in. I wanted to explore if we could achieve that, even on a smaller scale. We didn’t anticipate how challenging it would be.”

When asked about expanding the Kalki universe beyond Bujji & Bhairava, Ashwin hinted at future possibilities. “The potential for endless adventures with Bujji and Bhairava is exciting. There are many other characters and plot points in the film that could also have their own spin-offs.”

Prabhas has been seen in an animated avatar previously in the Baahubali animated series. Reflecting on his transition into the animated world of Bujji & Bhairava, Ashwin shared, “It’s great to see a well-known actor in the animated world. In Bujji & Bhairava, we tried a whole new style and aesthetic, which is not very common in animation. So, I feel it will be fresh for the audience.”

Co-director Upadhyay discussed the challenges and rewards of introducing Bhairava through animation: “It’s been a meticulous process to ensure the animation quality matches the film’s grandeur. We aimed to make Bhairava’s introduction memorable and complementary to his live-action portrayal.”

Upadhyay also addressed the challenge of introducing the characters through the animated series, which serves as a prelude to the live-action film: “I feel making the series after the film is harder as your energy to get this right drops significantly after. I wanted to use the momentum and energy we have while making the film, to get the series tight too. I feel the series and the film are different, though they share the same world. I feel the entry of Bhairava or Bujji will be amplified much more in the film for the people who have watched the animation.”

The first two episodes of the series were released on 31 May and have been well-received by audiences, earning an 8.1 rating on IMDb. A happy Upadhyay shared, “It has been a long and painstaking process to get the animation and the quality right, and we are happy that people have acknowledged the effort.”Two more episodes from the mini-series will be released after the live-action film’s release. Kalki 2898 AD is slated for a theatrical release on 27 June 2024.