Feature: Driving the Bujji movie car from Kalki 2898 AD

    The movie car produces 128hp and a monstrous 9,800Nm. We had the chance to drive it around CoASTT in Coimbatore.

    Published On Jun 21, 2024 08:00:00 AM


    Being an automotive journalist for the last 20 years means I marvel at all kinds of engineering almost every day. I’ve driven everything from a go-kart to a Sherp, but nothing blew my mind like this trip into a dystopian future. It was 47-degree Celsius, power lines were buzzing overhead, and there was nothing all around except for a freshly laid racetrack and a monster of a machine.

    I was at the CoASTT track in Coimbatore; the simmering heat was rising off the track, and I was transported to 2898 AD to drive Bujji—a car built from whatever could be scrounged to navigate an apocalyptic world.

    This is a car built for the promotions of the movie Kalki 2898 AD, and it was unlike anything I had ever seen. It’s a gargantuan machine: over six metres long, three metres wide, and two metres tall. It gets two hub-less wheels in the front, and the one at the rear can move on a vertical and horizontal axis. There is an all-glass canopy that shuts around the bare-bones cabin. Standing near the 34.5-inch rims, I was completely dwarfed, and the dimensions of this machine were mind-boggling. Kalki 2898 AD’s director Naga Ashwin is a car nut himself, and despite having a computer-generated car in the film, he decided that they should build a real one. So a team of engineers on the production side of the movie, Mahindra & Mahindra’s product development team and Jayem Automotives from Coimbatore joined forces to build this force of nature. And, of course, if it’s on wheels, we are happy to drive it.

    Steering folds away to help entry and exit, and locks into place when driving.

    I hauled myself one-storey high into the sparse cabin that was not complete yet. Luckily, they told me that the AC was functioning, which was great considering the high temperatures. Every bit of this car is uniquely engineered. I lifted the folded steering and locked it into place with a lever. Steering in place, the cool see-through canopy closed over my head, and I used another lever to get going. Considering this mammoth weighs in at 6 tonnes, it moved off so quickly, thanks to being powered by electric motors. I was trundling down the run-off areas around the CoASTT track feeling invincible, decimating everything in my path, imagining myself warding off evil villains and capturing the enemy. 

    Incidentally, the rear half of Bujji has a cage, which, in the movie, keeps captured enemies, but here, it houses the 47kWh battery. 

    Bujji’s rear houses a prison cell in the movie; in reality, it holds a 47kWh battery.

    One of the engineers riding shotgun with me asked me to steer onto the track. Bujji is rear-wheel drive, and considering it had only one wheel at the rear, I imagined I would have to steer it like a rudder on a boat, but it turned easily enough as a large truck would. I had been told to limit the speed to below 40kph, but it rumbled along the track effortlessly. I had to navigate it between a set of cones and turn around. Like in a truck, I just turned a little wide, and Bujji sailed through to the other side. It was quite a feeling to be sitting inside and driving someone’s wild imagination. I honestly felt like I had stepped into a crazy world in the future. I was grinning from ear to ear, little 5 foot 3 inches me driving this monster. To see Bujji in action, watch out for the movie that stars Prabhas—whose character imagines and builds this car—along with Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone.

    Bujji has a cooled 47kWh battery pack and runs on twin air-cooled Kirloskar induction motors that produce 94kW combined power and massive 9,800Nm of torque. Painted to look like it is created out of scraps of metal, this monolithic machine looks almost Transformer-like in its appearance. The front wheels have two brake calipers each and are forged using imported aluminium alloy. The rims are mounted onto taper roller bearings and then onto the hollow hubs. The front is independently sprung using swing arms with performance suspension racing struts that bear the load of each swing arm; the hub-less wheel weighs around a tonne. The engineering that has gone into this car is staggering. CEAT specially crafted the rubber that sits on the rims with a unique tread pattern.

    34.5-inch front wheels weigh nearly a tonne; twin-brake calipers on each.

    Triclops is the name that comes to mind when looking at this behemoth. The rear suspension has custom-made coil springs and dampers to support the rear axle, which weighs about 3 tonnes. I was told that the rear wheel is a sphere in the movie.

    The steering is another unique piece of engineering. It’s a foldaway design that flips down at the touch of a lever and locks into position. It is an electro-hydraulic steering that’s connected to a hydraulic orbital steering control valve. This transmits fluid pressure from the electro-hydraulic pump to the gerotor-type orbital hydraulic motor, which is further geared to the rear swing arm. All this makes it sound like technology you’d encounter in 2898 AD.

    Only the rear wheel is powered; the tyres were custom-built by CEAT

    I learned later that the team wanted to use this very car in the film, but it took two years to make and the movie couldn’t wait, so it was shot with props and computer-generated visuals. However, since they had started this project, they thought it would be great to have the car complete and used for promotions. The movie industry is crazy, isn’t it?

    Also see: 

    Driving the Bujji movie car from Kalki 2898 AD video


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