Director: Santosh Sivan
Producers: Shahrukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Radhika Sangoi
Screenplay: Santosh Sivan
Narrated by Suresh Oberoi
Stars: Ajith Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Danny Denzongpa, Rahul Dev, Hrishita Bhatt
Music: Anu Malik, Sandeep Chowta
Cinematography: Santosh Sivan
Editor: A. Sreekar Prasad
Release date: 26 October 2001
Running time: 171 mins
Kareena Kapoor must have perhaps been waiting for such a film. Shah Rukh Khan must have noticed her acting in her previous movies and as a result, decided to cast her opposite him in one of his home productions titled ‘Asoka’. The film released in the summer of 2001 and was mainly based on the life of Asoka, the emperor of the Maurya Dynasty which ruled South Asia for as many as 41 years. The lead character was obviously played by SRK, while Kareena’s character was named Kaurwaki.
Kaurwaki is the princess of Kalinga, one of the neighbouring provinces to Magadha, the place where Asoka established his base being the emperor. Both of them meet at a time when Asoka is in exile as per the orders of his mother, who actually did not want him to become the King and lied to him about her intentions of wanting him to improve by living the life of a common man. Amidst all the action, a love story blossoms between Kaurwaki and Asoka, who introduces himself as Pawan to her in order to hide his real identity. In no time, both of them get married until Asoka gets the news that his mother is unwell but that turned out to be a conspiracy of removing him from power.
Asoka tries to find her everywhere but fails, not being aware that she was in hiding and not dead. He is naturally heartbroken, but unlike a true warrior, tries to commit suicide until a man named Viraat played by Danny Denzongpa saves him after knowing his real identity. While the King of Bollywood has the maximum screen presence, Kareena’s role is not that short. She returns to the fray when Kalinga is filled with celebrations, following the coronation of her little brother, Prince Arya to the throne.
But those celebrations were not to last for long because Asoka declares war on Kalinga, the reason being that the province allowed giving shelter to his step brother, Sugrata who had become his enemy since Sugrata attempted to assassinate him several times. Kaurwaki did not know yet that Asoka was Pawan only and began to prepare for the war. This role suited Kareena extremely well, and it seemed that she had worked extremely hard to pull it off easily. Audiences were mesmerized as they were seeing Kareena in a different avatar altogether.
The war began and Kalinga was initially winning the battle, which was surprisingly even as Kauwaki was a courageous princess who was skilful in warfare. ButMagadhafought back as Asoka proved why he was considered brutal in nature and his continuous attack made Kalinga finally succumb to defeat. The end of the movie was tragic as Kaurwaki was badly injured and after Asoka somehow manages to find her, he apologizes to her for his actions which have actually killed so many innocent people rather than just winning him the battle.
Kareena Kapoor through this movie won her first Best Actress Award at the Star Screen Awards and was nominated for the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award. The movie was a massive hit, since it captured the mindset of the international market which was interested to know about the life of Asoka.