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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
However, while the film was critically acclaimed it performed moderately at the box office. See more »
The version referred on the US DVD released by First Look Pictures Home Entertainment, also known as the Director's Cut, is listed at 152 minutes but actually runs 169 minutes. Several features distinguish this from the uncut version. First, it is a 24 fps print running at 25 fps. Second, several cuts are present that interrupt the flow of the narrative in the uncut version, particularly in several exchanges between characters in the time between the first and second songs, and in the time between the fourth and fifth songs. Furthermore, the shot of Virat's actual death is completely missing in this version. See more »
ASOKA is a simple tale of sibling rivalry at its most heinous in a battle for the throne, filial duty, plus boy-meets-girl/boy-loses-girl etc, and how a conqueror realizes he has gained nothing by his brutality, and thereafter embarks on a journey of self-realisation and redemption through peace and Buddhism.A simple tale, but made complex by mind-boggling logistics (600 horses, 50 elephants, 6,000 extras together on the battlefield), thought-provoking themes and lyrical cinematography loaded with symbolism and mystique. Moments of levity (`that's not a weapon.THIS is a weapon!' reminding me of `Crocodile Dundee') together with aweinspiring locations and captivating romance, provide a gentle contrast to the gruesome spectacle of war.
One of the highlights for me was the music. In spite of owning the CD and seeing video clips on MTV, I was unprepared for the lush, sumptuous sounds enveloping me like an embrace, combined with alluring picturization. I would have loved to have seen more of the underwater scene in ROSHNI SE - innovative and full of grace and playfulness.
The Baadshah (King) of Bollywood, SHAH RUKH KHAN, demonstrates his personal aura of majesty and magnetism- classy, gutsy, seductive and intense, he IS Asoka incarnate: imperious, vengeful or romantic, .every move and emotion delivering a message of Grace, Truth and Sincerity straight to the viewer's heart.
More famously known for his exuberant dancing, irrepressible energy and audacity, Shah Rukh's flawless portrayal is so internalized and contained, with moments of chilling stillness, that it's difficult to remember any of his previous persona. Shah Rukh in his prime is a formidable, unforgettable vision.
Another highlight was Shah Rukh's graceful Kallaripayattu (martial art) and one-on-one combat scenes (especially with the enthralling snake sword) almost balletic in execution (no pun intended) - giving added dimension to the phrase `Poetry In Motion'.
Shah Rukh's intensity reminds me of Martin Sheen who was 35 in Francis Ford Coppola's `Apocalypse Now', a highlight of Hollywood history in its time, the same age as Shah Rukh in Asoka.
The entire cast lends excellent support, with many outstanding scenes, and no disappointments. Karriena is bewitching, young Suraj beguiling, and Rahul Dev fiercely protective, to help flesh out Santosh Sivan's magnificent movie. Ajith Kumar impresses more every time I see this movie, and successfully evokes sympathy from an unsympathetic role.
Costume and set design forsake the typical lavish `royal' trimmings, giving a clean, timeless look of elegant simplicity to haunting visuals in soft muted colours (except for the rich, rich, red and stunning peacock blue fabrics) in subtle harmony with the luxurious foliage. God bless Santosh Sivan, a visionary in an industry of mediocrity! (I wonder if he's met Francis Ford Coppola?)
History of Asoka? .not necessarily!
History of Cinema? .but definitely!
The ending left me panting to know what happened next, much like young `Arya' wanting `Pavan' to continue his story-telling ~ is this a clever way to make us beg for a sequel: ASOKA Part II? Mr Sivan, Sir, are you listening?
FINAL NOTE: The exquisite Book on The Making of Asoka (Mushtaq Shiekh, writer, HarperCollins Publishers) completes and further enriches the magical, mythical experience of ASOKA.
*SANDI* SRK's AUSSIE FAN #1
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