Only the dead have seen the end of war.

Let me start this review with a warning: If you're after the history of

Asoka, the 300 BC Indian emperor who unified the Indian peninsula and ruled

it according to the teachings of Buddha, then you better read a history

book. If on the other hand you're after a gorgeous epic film, with stunning

scenery, great music and dancing, love, drama, intrigue, betrayal, epic

battles, a gorgeous protagonist and a stunning warrior princess, then this

is the film you're after.

Asoka is a bright and intelligent young prince with one "disability": he's

not his father's favourite to inherit the throne. Obeying his mother's

wish, Asoka travels through the land as a commoner, using the name "Pawan".

On his journeys he meets Kaurwaki, an exiled princess who's now too poor to

even afford some extra clothing. Chemistry is immediate between them

and as it gets hotter Asoka (still "Pawan") decides to return home, claim

the throne, and marry Kaurwaki (I think my mum would describe that as "he

grew up"). While "Pawan" is away Kaurwaki narrowly escapes an attempt on

her and her brother's lives, but the news are distorted when they reach

Asoka who's led to believe that his love is dead. Heartbroken and

devastated Asoka leaves his home again. But his brother wants him dead and

arranges for his assassination. Asoka is saved by Devi, a local Buddhist

girl, who he marries out of sense of duty. Then he returns home where he

survives another attempt, in which his mother is killed. Asoka manages to

handle the situation, but he's been through a lot and has lost the sense of

"measure". He turns into a monster who makes war for the sake of war

itself. Terror and destruction trace Asoka's path, who in the process

destroys himself, as those close to him abandon him the one after the

other. Eventually his steps bring him to the kingdom of Kalinga, where

Kaurwaki has restored her rule. A massive battle follows, without either of

the two lovers knowing that they fight against each other...

This film is simply great. It's both artistic and commercial, incorporating

the strengths of both. We watch how life events change Asoka from a

carefree youth to a sincere lover, a "grown up", a monster... The director

gives a credible picture of the life and customs in ancient India,

carefully abstaining from the oddities that we often see in Hollywood

films. On the other end, the battle of Kalinga is stunning and the fighting

scenes are actually real and not animated as in most recent films. The love

story is charming and you don't really care when it occasionally gets too

naïve. Finally, the director leaves the end open without imposing the one

or the other ending upon the viewer; the film is great and there's no need

to spoil the high emotions built up through it.

Rotten Tomatoes Score:



Action, Drama, History, Romance, War


Saket Chaudhary, Santosh Sivan, Abbas Tyrewala


Santosh Sivan


Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Danny Denzongpa, Ajith


Sandeep Chowta


169 minutes








These pages copyright Union Films, 2001-2024. All views expressed in these pages are those of Union Films, and are not necessarily those of the University Of Southampton, or the Students' Union. All logos and trademarks are property of their respective organisations.

Tickets, passes and the prices thereof are subject to availability