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Prince Ashoke (Shahrukh Khan), heir to the Magadha Kingdom, bowing to his mother's (Shilpa Mehta) demand forsakes his princely status and goes to live in the wild for awhile. There he meets and falls in love with Kaurwaki (Kareena Kapoor). He identifies himself as Pawan, not wanting to disclose his identity yet. Ashoke has to return to Magadha, but when he returns to find and wed Kaurwaki, he is told by Bheema (Rahul Dev) that Kaurwaki and her brother Arya have been killed. Devastated Ashoke returns home. On the way home he is attacked and Devi (Hrishitaa Bhatt), of the Buddhist faith rescues him and tends to him till he gets well. As a result, Devi's marriage to her groom is cancelled. Ashoke weds her and brings her to Magadha, only to be told by his father that since Devi is not of the same race as he, she cannot be welcomed. Ashoke leaves with Devi and lives in Ujjaini. Soon Devi gets pregnant, and this arouses jealously and hatred amongst Ashoke's step-brothers. As a result they ...Written by
While this engaging film wonderfully depicts the evolution of a young man into the ferocious killing machine emperor called ChandAshoka (Wild Ashoka) it pays little attention to the much more vital legacy as DharmAshoka (Faithful Ashoka). Cutting two songs, and adding another 10 minutes of exposition to show his evolution into the enlightened and compassionate meesenger of Buddhism would have made the film much more complete, and raised it to the level of highest achievement. Ashoka made Kalinga into a centre of Buddhism that endured more than a millennium, until the Shaivaite and Vaishnavite Hindu Renaissance of the 12th and 13th centuries. His legacy as a prophet of multiculturalism, peace and tolerance was insufficiently explored. It might have helped to have had an English translation of the beautiful and profound rock edicts that were shown only as a visual element in the opening and closing credits. It is a shame that Ashoka's Greek ancestry is not even acknowledged in the film. His grandfather Chandragupta, who is seen as convert to the ultra-pacifist Jain faith in the opening scenes, married the daughter of rht edfeated Greek general Seleucus Nicator, who led Alexander the Great's forces to defeat in the Punjab. Ashoka was born of one of Bindusara's Indian wives, which makes Ashoka at least one quarter Greek -- he was the very fusion of the Greco-Indian classical tradition, snd it was he who caused to be erected the collossal Buddhas at Bamiyan, destroyed earlier this year by the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Despite these minor failings it is a superb film, and even today you can wander the sand dunes of the River Daya (Compassion) in southeastern Orissa (formerly Kalinga) and experience the fullimagining of the Ashokan battlefield. Best regards Satya
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