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First frame of Kalki 2898 AD trailer is stolen art, alleges Korean artist; Third Prabhas movie accused of plagiarism

First frame of Kalki 2898 AD trailer is stolen art, alleges Korean artist; Third Prabhas movie accused of plagiarism
The Baahubali movies were an unexpected phenomenon that brought Indian cinema back to the global stage after a long lull. However, whatever high-budget project the Baahubali star Prabhas has moved to next, controversy has followed.

The latest outrage has come after the first trailer for the Nag Ashwin sci-fi action film, Kalki 2898 AD, was released this week. While the film has already received flak from some for not delivering a trailer worthy of its astounding Rs 600 crore budget, the criticism reached an unexpected crescendo after a South Korean artist claimed that the movie blatantly copied some original elements from his artwork from a decade ago.

Kalki 2898 AD is a forthcoming epic science fiction film that promises to be one of India's most monumental cinematic endeavours. Headlined by Prabhas as Bhairava, an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and Amitabh Bachchan portraying the ageless Ashwatthama, the film combines mythological themes with futuristic storytelling. It is one of the most expensive productions in Indian cinema.

The artist, Sung Choi, has worked as a concept illustrator for Marvel Studios, Disney, Warner Bros, and Netflix, among a host of other production houses. The illustration, called ‘Crash Site of ARK’, which seems to depict some sort of dilapidated structure amidst a desert-like scape, is morphed and added to the first shot of the trailer as it introduces the film’s production house, Vyjayanthi Movies.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time a Prabhas-starred movie has found itself in hot water for plagiarism issues. Adipurush, another epic high-budget project steeped in controversy ever since its release, also faced backlash in 2022. According to animation house Vaanarsena Studios, T-Studios copied the studio’s artwork for the Adipurush movie poster that depicted Lord Ram in an action pose, demanding credit for the same.

Two years earlier, a song titled ‘Baby Won’t You Tell Me’ from the Prabhas-starred Saaho garnered controversy for using backgrounds that looked eerily similar to installations made by Bengaluru-based contemporary artist Shilo Shiv Suleman at the Burning Man Art festival in 2017.

Many were already disgruntled that Kalki 2898 AD drew excessive inspiration from many well-known franchises such as Dune and Mad Max, to the point that it almost seems like a sequel. After the fresh allegations, many netizens have urged Choi to pursue legal action against the production house. It remains to be seen if and how Vyjayanthi Movies will respond.

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