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Asoka - 2001

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Santosh Sivan directed and co-wrote Aoka, an Indian Hindi-language epic historical drama film released in 2001. It is a dramatisation of the early life of the Mauryan emperor Asoka, who governed the majority of the Indian subcontinent in the third century BCE. Ajith Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Hrishitaa Bhatt, and Danny Denzongpa co-star in the film. Khan, Juhi Chawla, and Radhika Sangoi produced it. Santosh Sivan and Saket Chaudhary wrote the screenplay, while Abbas Tyrewale was responsible for the dialogue. The movie was translated and released as Samrat Asoka in Tamil.

Table of Contents


Movie name


Directed by

Santosh Sivan

Screenplay by

Santosh Sivan, Saket Chaudhary and Abbas Tyrewala

Cinematography by

Santosh Sivan

Edited by

A. Sreekar Prasad

Produced by

Gauri Khan, Sanjiv Chawla and Juhi Chawla


Shah Rukh Khan, Ajith Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Hrishitaa Bhatt and Danny Denzongpa

Music by

Anu Malik

Production company

Dreamz Unlimited and Arclightz & Films

Distributed by

Dreamz Unlimited

Release date

26 October 2001






₹13 Crores


asoka-story2-tringThe story of 'Asoka' begins with the young and ambitious prince Ashoka, who desires to become the emperor of the Maurya Empire. However, Ashoka's path to power is not an easy one. He faces various obstacles, including rivalry with his brothers, a conspiracy to assassinate him, and political turmoil within the empire.

During a battle, Ashoka witnesses the horrors of war and experiences a profound transformation. He becomes disheartened by the bloodshed and decides to renounce violence. Inspired by the teachings of Buddhism, Ashoka adopts the principles of non-violence, peace, and compassion.

As Ashoka embarks on a spiritual journey, he meets Kaurwaki, a princess from the neighboring kingdom of Kalinga. The two fall in love, but their relationship faces challenges due to the ongoing conflict between their empires. The film portrays their passionate love story amidst the backdrop of political unrest and war.

With the desire to unite the warring kingdoms and spread the message of peace, Ashoka eventually becomes a mighty emperor. However, his path to achieving peace is riddled with personal sacrifices and betrayals. Ashoka must confront his own demons and make difficult choices to bring stability and harmony to his empire.


'Asoka' was released on October 26, 2001, in India. Directed by Santosh Sivan, the film generated significant buzz prior to its release due to its grand scale, historical subject matter, and the star power of Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role.

The release of 'Asoka' was highly anticipated, as it marked the first collaboration between Shah Rukh Khan and director Santosh Sivan, known for his visually stunning cinematography. The film aimed to showcase a larger-than-life depiction of the life and reign of Emperor Ashoka, a prominent figure in Indian history.

Upon its release, 'Asoka' opened to a mixed response from both critics and audiences. The film's unconventional storytelling style and its blend of historical accuracy with fictional elements received varied opinions. Some praised the film's visual aesthetics, performances, and the chemistry between Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor, while others felt the narrative lacked coherence and failed to live up to expectations.

Despite mixed reviews, 'Asoka' managed to create an impact at the box office. It garnered attention for its lavish production design, extensive use of visual effects, and impressive battle sequences. The film appealed to a wide range of audiences, particularly fans of historical dramas and Shah Rukh Khan's fan base.


Upon its release in 2001, 'Asoka' received a mixed response from critics and audiences alike. The film's unique approach to presenting the life of Emperor Ashoka and its blend of historical accuracy with fictional storytelling elements garnered varied opinions.

Critics appreciated the film's visual aesthetics, grand scale, and efforts to recreate the historical setting. The elaborate costumes, stunning cinematography by Santosh Sivan, and the impressive battle sequences were widely praised. Shah Rukh Khan's performance as Ashoka received acclaim for his portrayal of the conflicted emperor and his transformation throughout the film.

However, some critics felt that the narrative lacked coherence and depth. The fusion of historical facts with fictionalized elements raised concerns about the accuracy of the portrayal of Ashoka's life. The pacing of the film and its lengthy runtime also drew criticism from some quarters.

Despite the mixed critical reception, 'Asoka' developed a dedicated fan base over time. The film's distinct visual style, strong performances, and emotional moments resonated with certain audiences who appreciated its artistic merits and its attempt to present a historical epic on a grand scale.

Over the years, the film has gained recognition and appreciation for its ambition and unique interpretation of Emperor Ashoka's journey. It continues to be discussed and analyzed within the context of Indian cinema and historical dramas.



Character Analysis






San Sanana

Alka Yagnik, Hema Sardesai


Raat Ka Nasha

K. S. Chithra and chorus


Roshini Se

Alka Yagnik, Abhijeet Bhattacharya


O Re Kanchi

Shaan, Suneeta Rao, Alka Yagnik


Raat Ka Nasha (Duet) (not in the film)

K. S. Chithra, Abhijeet Bhattacharya and chorus


Aa Tyaar Hoja

Sunidhi Chauhan


Asoka Theme


Box Office Collection

'Asoka' was released in 2001 and performed reasonably well at the box office. While it may not have been a massive commercial success, the film managed to recover its production costs and made a decent impact.

The exact box office figures for 'Asoka' are not readily available, but it had a moderate reception in India and overseas markets. The film attracted audiences due to its grand scale, historical setting, and the popularity of Shah Rukh Khan, who has a strong national and international fan base.

However, 'Asoka' faced tough competition from other releases during its time and had to contend with mixed reviews from critics. These factors may have influenced its overall box office performance. Despite its initial reception, 'Asoka' has gained a dedicated fan following over time and has achieved cult status. It continues to be appreciated for its unique storytelling, visual aesthetics, and Shah Rukh Khan's performance. The film's longevity in terms of home video sales, television broadcasts, and digital streaming platforms has further contributed to its popularity and reach.

While the box office collection of 'Asoka' may not have been exceptional, the film's impact extends beyond its initial theatrical run. It remains a significant entry in Indian cinema, known for its ambitious vision, historical backdrop, and portrayal of Emperor Ashoka's journey of transformation.




Recipients and Nominees


International Indian Film Academy Awards

Best Cinematography

Santosh Sivan


Filmfare Awards

Best Cinematography


Best Film


Best Director

Best Actress

Kareena Kapoor

Best Female Playback Singer

Alka Yagnik for 'San Sanana'

Screen Weekly Awards 2002

Best Lyricist

Anand Bakshi for 'San Sanana'


Best Female Playback Singer

Alka Yagnik for 'San Sanana'

Most Promising Female Newcomer

Hrishitaa Bhatt

Best Background Score

Sandeep Chowta

Best Cinematography

Santosh Sivan

Best Action

Shyam Kaushal

Zee Cine Awards

Best Film

Juhi Chawla, Shahrukh Khan


Best Female Debut

Hrishitaa Bhatt

Best Villain

Ajith Kumar

Best Music Director

Anu Malik

Best Lyricist

Gulzar for 'Roshini Se'

Best Male Playback Singer

Abhijeet Bhattacharya for 'Roshini Se'

Best Female Playback Singer

K.S. Chitra for 'Raat Ka Nasha'

Sansui Awards

Best Actor

Shahrukh Khan


Interesting Facts

In conclusion, 'Asoka' is a grand and ambitious film that delves into the life and transformation of Emperor Ashoka. Directed by Santosh Sivan and featuring a captivating performance by Shah Rukh Khan in the lead role, the movie offers a unique interpretation of one of India's greatest historical figures.

Through its visual splendor, emotional depth, and a blend of historical facts with fictional storytelling, 'Asoka' takes viewers on a journey through Ashoka's life, showcasing his journey from a power-hungry prince to a compassionate emperor. The film explores themes of love, power, redemption, and the pursuit of peace, presenting a compelling narrative that resonates with audiences. The film's stunning cinematography, elaborate costumes, and impressive battle sequences add to its visual appeal, while the music composed by Anu Malik enhances the emotional impact of the storytelling. The performances of the cast, including Kareena Kapoor, Ajith Kumar, and Hrishitaa Bhatt, contribute to the film's overall strength.

While 'Asoka' had a mixed reception upon its release, it has garnered a dedicated following and achieved a cult status over time. Its artistic merits, unique storytelling approach, and the enduring appeal of its characters have contributed to its lasting impact.

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