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Asoka was just a name. A name embedded in my mind since childhood. Every Indian child knows the name Asoka. His wheel is on our flag; his seal is on our currency and his name echoes in our history and culture. That is all I knew of this Great Mauryan King who was discovered in 1906.

Very little is known about Asoka before his conversion to Buddhism and that is what Santosh Sivan has played with. He has taken a true, historical subject, added his spice and has come up with one of the best fairytales ever to be made in Indian cinema.

I was dancing in a train for a song in a movie called Dil Se…, which was cinematographed, by Santosh Sivan. In between shots, he came up to me and told me all about Asoka and I could see the determination in his eyes. Even though I did not understand a word he said, (now I do, after working with him for two years, but then you could not understand whether he spoke in Hindi, French or English), I agreed to do the film. In him, I saw a man who believed in a subject for ten years. I saw a man who would have made his movie, with or without me. I saw a man who was the best at what he does. This for me, was eighty percent of the battle won. Just because I don't understand something, it does not mean it is not right.

Today, I can proudly say, I know Asoka. I know Asoka on a personal level. I have not just acted in the film; I have lived the life of the legend Asoka.

Shah Rukh Khan


Asoka to me is one of India's finest movies to be launched on an international platform. The script, the screenplay, the edit, the music are just a few of the elements that were used to make this movie different. Asoka is not your regular commercial Hindi movie.

However, even though Asoka is not a regular conventional Indian movie, it is very much rich in Indian culture, music, costumes, history and the world famous Indian traits of story telling.

It has been a lifelong dream to work with Santosh Sivan. To me, he is nothing short of a genius when it comes to filmmaking. Asoka would be incomplete without Kaurwaki just as Kareena would be incomplete without Asoka.

It was not playing a legend that lived 2,400 years ago, but the director had his vision of Kaurwaki very clear in his mind, and only he could make me see what Kaurwaki would have been like.

Asoka to me was a challenge. A challenge to perform in a movie, which is built on probably the oldest subject in Indian cinema.


Director :- Halo (Children's Film / Hindi), The Terrorist (Tamil), Malli (Tamil)

Awards :- Awarded 10 National Awards for Cinematography & Direction

Malli (Tamil / 1999) Silver Prize at Chicago International Film Festival (USA), 2000 Polish Film Festival ( Poland ), 2000 - Best Film, Best Director, Hyderabad Film Festival ( India ), 2000 - Silver Elephant.

The Terrorist (Tamil / 1998) Caqrio International Film Festival, 1999 (Egypt), Awarded the Golden Pyramid, Best Director, Cine Manila Film Festival, 1999 (Philippines) - Grand Jury Prize, Seattle Film Festival, 2000 (USA) Awarded as Emerging Master, Golden Satellite Awards, USA by the International Press nominated for Best Foreign Film.

Halo (Children's Film / Hindi / 1997) Cario International Film Festival for Children - 1997 (Special Jury's prize for Feature and Short Film) Children's Film fest, 1997 Ontario - Canada (Best Film)


Asoka was the Third Mauryan Emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty (274 - 232 BC).

His is a journey of an ambitious king, who fought the bloody war of Kalinga.
On the battlefield he stood amidst conquered corpses and his realization that a true conquest was by conquering hearts of people led him to spread Buddhism and it's message of love and compassion across the world.

'Asoka', the film attempts to portray Asoka's personal transition from an ambitious prince to a lover, a conqueror and finally a messenger of peace, a changing mind like the change of seasons.

The legends of Asoka are dramatized and presented in a traditional Indian form of storytelling.

Santosh Sivan


"a unique look is what I want for this film. 'Period', yes, but contemporary. A look which echoes of the past and is fresh and inspiring too". These were Santosh's words for the kind of 'look' he wanted for 'Asoka'

When we first met up with Kareena to discuss her 'look' for 'Asoka', I was struggling with the idea of making her look exotic and different, how to enhance the facial features especially the eyes and so on. Santosh had clearly expressed that he wanted no make up at all for any of the women characters in his film. He had also mentioned that he wanted a lot of body art in the film. He had even handed me some 'tattoo kits', which he had picked up during his trips abroad, only a few months before we embarked on 'Asoka'.
This posed a challenge because tattoos had already become a craze in the West. So much so that a mere mention of the word 'tattoo' instantly brings to mind loud images of an obsessive subculture.

I began reading up information on websites as well as some history texts, which talked about the Mauryan Dynasty and the social structure prevalent at the time. At around that time i.e. 274 - 232 BC, the period of Asoka's reign and even in the years prior to that, from the time of Emperor Chandragupta's reign, there was strong influence of Egyptian and Greek civilizations in India. This was especially so in the arena of fashion, the style of dressing and also cosmetics, the use of colors to enhance the facial features. The way the Egyptian queens painted their lips and cuticles red and also used bright colors (blue, green, yellow and gold powder) for their eye lids, the concept of 'eye shadow' perhaps came from there. Although not completely but this trend had reached India through trade and travel, which was at it's height in the Magadhan Empire. In some texts, there is also mention of import of make up, cosmetics from as far as Egypt.
The queens also had elaborate body art in these times. In prominent historian Romila Thapar's book there is also mention of an interesting detail. The queens wore 'heels' and this was a purely Greek / Roman influence.

There was yet another challenge, if there was to be body art incorporated in the film then it would have to be carefully thought out. For instance any design drawn on the body would have to look very 'period', with no lines, shapes or forms that were remotely modern. This was both interesting and tough. I began experimenting with lines and shapes and came up with designs that looked 'period' and not modern in any way. The most interesting and yet simple is the design which I drew on the corners of Kareena's eyes. Since she has green brown eyes, and the design is with black, this made them look even more stark. It also makes her eyes look larger and more prominent as compared to the other features on her face.
During the first schedule in 'Panchmarhi', M.P., I was apprehensive about the body art. Santosh had mentioned how he wanted it subtle and not too overpowering. For this reason I confines the art to the space just below the collar-bone, on the outside arm and the eyes. Occasionally he would ask for a navel drawing or a more elaborate design.
The body art gave the costume an exotic detail and made Kareena look beautifully unique. Santosh then wanted the body art really elaborate in songs such as 'Roshni Se'.
Gradually it became an essential detail of the look of some of the more prominent characters in the film. For instance, 'Bheema' (Rahul Dev) with the sun emblem on his arm, the spade and snake design on 'Giri's' (Shabbir's) forehead, which made him look more evil.
Eye make up also comprised of painting black kohl both on the inside and the outside of the eye, forming a sort of thick rim. The paintings and rare visual references of the time depict the dramatic emphasizing of the women's eyes. The eyes were undoubtedly the most prominently highlighted feature among the women in those times.
This detail makes Kareena look very exotic and Indian. The concept of no make up (foundation or lipstick) works very well with Kareena, as she has a lot of natural contrast on her face.
Overall there is no make up for any of the women characters in the film. Rather than make up, we have attempted to use detailing on the face such as the use of red and black powder for 'tilak', which is more ethnic and Indian.


Shah Rukh Khan is among the few actors who have managed to combine mass with an artiste's passion for creativity and experimentation. An intense performer Shah Rukh today rules world's biggest film industry - Bollywood with his visceral performance ranging from a love-obsessed fanatic to the quintessential romantic hero. His Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge recently became the longest running Hindi film ever. Shah Rukh's passion for film is not restricted to acting. He understands the true potential of the cinematic medium and its importance in shaping reality. Armed with this belief, Shah Rukh is already an active catalyst in the growth of Indian film industry. A versatile acto, a mega star, an astute businessman, a visionary-Shah Rukh Khan dares to dream...unlimited !


Former Miss India Juhi Chawla is one of India's most adored film actresses. Her debut film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak brought back the trend of gossamer romance to Indian screen. Since then she has gone from strength to strength enthralling the audience with her spunky performance. She has the perennial Indian girl-next-door image which has endure and endeared over the years. Juhi's objective to be an active participant in movie making is manifest from her recent foray into production. She has balance her effervescent on-screen persona by lending her special involvement in every aspect of film production and planning.










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