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Asoka [2001] [DVD]

Shah Rukh Khan , Kareena Kapoor , Santosh Sivan    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
Price: 8.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Asoka [2001] [DVD] + Devdas [DVD] [NTSC] + Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Danny Denzongpa, Rahul Dev, Hrishitaa Bhatt
  • Directors: Santosh Sivan
  • Writers: Santosh Sivan, Abbas Tyrewala, Saket Chaudhary
  • Producers: Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Mark Burton, Sanjiv Chawla
  • Format: PAL, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Dolby, Subtitled
  • Language: Hindi
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Prism Leisure
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Jan 2003
  • Run Time: 169 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005UJAS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,310 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Both stylish and stylised, Santosh Sivan's Hindi epic Asoka tells the heavily fictionalised but nonetheless compelling story of India's greatest emperor. In the third century BC the Mauryan king Asoka built a vast empire by means of ruthless conquest; but after the great Kalinga war he became sickened by the terrible slaughter he had caused, converted to Buddhism and dedicated the rest of his life to spreading peace and prosperity.

The film, though, concerns itself only with Asoka's rise to power, his love for the princess Kaurwaki, and his subsequent descent into brutality. Shah Rukh Khan is a brooding and temperamental prince who woos the lovely princess Kaurwaki (Kareena Kapoor) incognito and with the aid of the obligatory song-and-dance numbers. After a promising start involving mythic swords, heroic combat and King Lear-like sibling rivalry, the film falls into a familiar Bollywood groove for a while until events overtake the unlucky lovers and Asoka turns mean when he thinks his princess is dead. She in turn searches vainly for her handsome hero, not knowing his real identity; and when the tyrannical Asoka attacks her kingdom she leads her people against his armies in a near-genocidal war. The finale, after a wonderfully staged battle that employs 6,000 extras, is genuinely touching.

Throughout, the film works best when striving for a realistic tone, though the fairy tale romance and song interludes are doubtless contrived to please the domestic Indian audience more than cynical Europeans. It's a shame that Asoka's true greatness is never realised on screen, as the story ends before his momentous conversion, but as a film that tackles big themes with real visual flair Asoka nonetheless deserves to find a worldwide audience.

On the DVD: Presented in sumptuous widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic format and in Dolby 5.1, the film can be viewed with or without English subtitles. There are also two short documentaries, in English, featuring interviews with the star and director among others. The five big musical numbers can be accessed all in one go or individually, while a trailer and picture gallery complete a good package. --Mark Walker

Product Description

The epic story of the Emperor Asoka, the ruler of Magadha in the 3rd century BC. Asoka was a warrior whose desire to expand his empire led him to wage a long and relentless war against the neighbouring kingdom of Kalinga. But after seeing the death and destruction brought about by his warmongering, Asoka finds himself overcome with remorse and decides to dedicate the rest of his life to helping spread the teachings of Buddhism.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Asoka, the story of the first all-India emperor who introduced Buddhism to the country, is a cinematic treat for anyone who has even a remote acquaintance with Bollywood films. It stars devilishly lovable rogue Shah Rukh Khan at his most naturalistic and commanding best as the emperor Asoka, and haughtily gorgeous Kareena Kapoor, Bollywood's latest superstar actress, as the Kalingan princess he falls in love with. The plot manages to combine typical Bollywood love-story-with-a-tragic-twist with a genuine - though liberally inventive - exploration and dramatisation of historical events. Asoka is the first real character of Indian history and as such, is seen as a nation-builder. The film certainly gives the impression of both the epic sweep of history and of the sophistication and breadth of 1st millenia BC Indian civilisation, and is lavishly photographed, designed, costumed and shot in every scene. The battle scenes - some of the best I've seen - are vast and not computer generated, with elephants fighting alongside footsoldiers, and the audience is not spared from grisliness of war. This is a film with a message: one learnt by the real Asoka and disseminated across his nation. War brings no benefits. Violence is evil. The violence in the film is given an ultra-realism and morality that Hollywood doesn't match, while you can thrill, at the same time, to the sight of a spear point within millimetres of Shah Rukh Khan's eyeball, or the sight of Kareena wielding a sword on the battlefield in defence of her people.
If you are prepared to settle in for the epic length, this film is a treat.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I saw the movie in Calcutta, without sub-titles but it was fascinating anyway! The movie depicts an important part of buddhist history in India, and combines this with a touching love story. It is a real Hindi movie: with song and dance and no kissing; but so well played that is was not necessary to understand Hindi.
Real captivating movie!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Why a sword in such beautiful hands?" 9 Feb 2006
I have a very poor opinion of Bollywood movies (most of which consist of half-naked women gyrating on screen, the set-location moving impossibly from Egypt in one moment to Switzerland in the next. Weak plots combine with goofy all-dancing/all-singing numbers, normally).
I watched this movie with much trepidation (I am of Indian origin, and am totally clueless of India's rich culture/history). This film just swept me away, words cannot describe the sheer euphoria that rushed through me when watching this masterpiece unfold. Lush locations, beauteous women clad in the simplest of garments, an intriguing plot with no end of twists and turns, interesting-looking weapons and fight-scenes, subtle humour, a blossoming romance. This is a sparkling gem of a film that rivals such others like 'Braveheart' and 'Gladiator'. Based on actual fact and history (along with a few legends), it tells the story of a mighty prince - Asoka (played with utter conviction by the infamous Shahrukh Khan), and his love for a woman in exile, his "Warrior" - fiesty Princess Kaurwaki (played by the charming Kariena Kapoor); believing that his love is lost, and angered by the murder of his beloved mother, Asoka slowly sinks into a consuming despair and dementia, and starts to "destroy everything", slaughtering innocents and conquering lands, in his wish to be "the greatest emperor on earth". This culminates in the great war he wages against his neighbouring kingdom of Kalinga (this movie, is in fact, dedicated to the people of Kalinga, who were hopelessly outnumbered and so brave in the face of adversity).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Shah Rukh's best 21 Feb 2007
By Boo
I think that this film is alot better than many critics made out when the film was first released. I would definately say that it comes after Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in terms of Shah Rukh Khan's best films, and loved every bit of it, the songs, action sequences and love stories. Shah Rukh shows in this film that he has a great ability to perform the roles of 'goodies' and 'baddies', in the space of one film, and he makes you as a viewer hate him and love him at the same time. And this is coming from someone who isnt an obsessive SRK fan.

Definately a must see, even if you are not Asian, as I am not, and I still loved it.

The special features are also great value, as there are interviews with Santosh Sivan, SRK himself, and producer and film star Juhi Chawla, with clips of behind the scenes footage.

A great buy, I would recommend it to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Asoka The Epic 17 Sep 2005
This is a classic - It started off like an arty Indian movie with stagey character acting (which can be off putting!) but when the story moves to Asoka's adventure as a normal everyman - the movie takes on elements of classic Bollywood with some nice songs and romantic storyline.
The martial arts sequences are stylised and surprisingly quite dramatic - Particularly Danny Denzongpa's final battle - and the war scene at the climax.
I was extremely surprised at how good this film was and at the time of its release critics compared it to Braveheart and Gladiator - Although this movie surpasses both those films in terms of its cinematic direction, sheer scale and storyline. I would rate this film on a par with classics such as 'Dances With Wolves'.
This is more than worth the asking price (Its a steal!).
A movie no one should miss.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars King Khan
Its a movie to cherish
Sharukh Khan looks good
the role suits him
Kareena looks ok though not as beautiful as expected
Published 5 months ago by Romella R.
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect
lovely movie, love it for years, now i have it in my collection of DVD. worth wathcing , good story and good music
Published 19 months ago by Laura Mazarache
2.0 out of 5 stars Asoka [2001] DVD
This is a bollywood take on the sword and sandal genre. The film focuseson a general prince who leaves his people to find "himself" I think. Read more
Published on 10 Aug 2010 by Rambosaur
Asoka [2001] [DVD]The film directed by India's number one Cinematographer Santosh Sivan is a delight to the eyes. Santosh Sivan is from Kerala, my home state. Read more
Published on 13 July 2010 by BABU VARMA
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTERPIECE.
From Santosh Sivan, the maker of The Terrorist, this really a masterpiece, having been made about 10 years ago, without all the computer gimmickry & special effects for the fights... Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2009 by LionRaj
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Moving!
Asoka was most defientley one of Shah Rukh Khan's best movies out! His acting is superb, he has a great range of skill and mastered the character amazingly well. Read more
Published on 14 July 2007 by P.R
3.0 out of 5 stars Hope the director sees this
I give 3 stars to be nuetral since I haven't watched the movie and decided not after reading the reviews. Read more
Published on 2 Dec 2006 by Amanda
4.0 out of 5 stars View for enjoyment
An enjoyable film, considering it does not pretend to be a historical reconstruction. Good photography and generally fine settings. Read more
Published on 24 Sep 2006 by Thomas Dana Lloyd
1.0 out of 5 stars Bearable.
Overall, this is a pretty disappointing film, given the subject matter it is based on. The film only follows Asoka up to the point where he renounces violence and becomes a... Read more
Published on 16 April 2006 by David Welsh
4.0 out of 5 stars pure fantasy, bollywood ishtyle
Most of what people know about Asoka is pure fantasy. For example, it is widely believed that Ashoka, out of disgust and sorrow over all the blood he shed, renounces violence and... Read more
Published on 5 Mar 2006 by Jeffrey Lehman
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