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Talking about Asoka

Discussion in 'Asoka' started by Meghna04, Apr 12, 2006.

  1. Meghna04

    Meghna04 ChakDe SRK!

    Talking about Asoka

    There are people who believe that Asoka was tall and charismatic. Others who insist that he was short and the ugliest of his brothers. What was your conception of the emperor from your reading of history and mythology?

    Nowhere have I found a historically factual representation of Asoka's physical appearance. There are no pictures, no vivid word descriptions. Many assume him to be a tall, good-looking and muscular man which I'm not. The only description I've come across of him paints him out to be short, dark and ugly. If that's true then I fit the bill (Smiles). I see him as a physically attractive man who could
    invoke power. My Asoka is a man who doesn't wear the elaborate costumes of a king but wraparound dhotis and trailing stoles. His hair is long because while researching the subject we discovered that during the time the common people had short hair but the kings grew their hair long. We've added a dramatic black tilak because we thought it signified power and evil. We wanted to make the Mauryan king attractive to the youth of the country.

    With so little historical data available on the man how have you traced his journey?

    You'll see Asoka through the four phases of his life. The young prince, the commoner, the vicious king and finally, the Buddhist monk. We've taken into account everyone's version of him. The people of Magadh saw him as a great ruler, the conqueror of the world. For the inhabitants of Kalinga he was a man who ravaged their land but was eventually put on the right path by his Buddhist wife. The Buddhists see him as an evil man who reforms. And finally, there's the myth about his love for Kaurwaki and how that relationship dictated his life.

    They say that there is a bit of the actor in every character he plays and by the end of the film the actor takes on some attributes of the character too. Was that true of you when doing Asoka?

    I don't know how much of me is there in Asoka. The one clear take I had from Santosh (director Santosh Sivan) was that he wanted his Asoka to be very childlike. He felt that would make his anger, impulsiveness and even his narcissim endearing. Help us forgive him the mistakes he makes because they are the mistakes of a child who doesn't know better. I tried to keep that in mind when enacting my role. (Thoughtfully) I think I wasn't successful in capturing Asoka's childlike innocence but I could match his arrogance. And we have managed to retain the dignity of the historical character even though this meant cutting out on some of the comedy. We didn't think that fun and that streak of mischief that I'm sure was in him, would go down well with the audience.

    Wouldn't that make him less interesting?

    Oh, he's interesting and intriguing in his own way because he's neither black nor white but streaked with shades of grey. Santosh describes him as a "twilight" character. Though there's not much we know of Asoka as a person, I think in his own way he was a superstar too (Smiles). He was rich, famous and had the world at his feet. If he was impulsive and selfish at times, then from his point of view it was because of circumstances. You can be misled when you are very big. The greatness of the man was not that he gave up everything for goodness, kindness and love but that the goodness and love he found turned him into a better human being.

    Is that what your learnt from Asoka?

    The most important lesson I learnt was to live for the moment. You never know what will come next--tomorrow or the next life. So you have to do everything now. Asoka had just conquered the world, when he renounced everything. He could have waited... one day, one month, a year. But he gave it all up when he was there, right on top.

    Will you do that too? Quit when you're at the peak?

    It takes guts, goodness and belief to give up so easily. I'm not Asoka, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa. I'm a lesser mortal. Don't expect from me what you would from Asoka. Asoka was best known for the battle of Kalinga. He was a king and a warrior. Yet your film projects him as a lover.We know Asoka as a king, a warrior, a killer and a monk. It made
    Santosh wonder about the man who goes through so many transitions and turmoil without losing himself. In the end he was convinced that despite all the bad things he had done Asoka was inherently good. While recreating his past, we discovered his attachment to his mother, his strange need for his father's love, his passion for Kaurwaki...Somewhere along the way he felt let down by these relationships and that turned him bad. But in the end it was these relationships that redeemed and reformed him. His was an intriguing journey that we have travelled through the medium of a love story.

    How different a lover is he from Devdas?

    Oh, completely different (After a thoughtful pause). No, actually they weren't all that different. Devdas gave up the world for love. Asoka also sacrifices all material attachments to become a Buddhist monk in the end.

    But Asoka was known as a strong man while Devdas was always weak. I've played Asoka as weak and Devdas as strong. You have to be very strong-willed to give up everything for love. And you have to be very soft-hearted to be so affected by the spoils of war.
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  2. Meghna04

    Meghna04 ChakDe SRK!

    What was it like working with Sanjay Bhansali on Devdas?

    He's an amazing director too. He has immense patience, talent and a love for cinema that's given him the strength to continue with the film despite all the odds. For Sanjay's sake I hope Devdas turns out to be as beautiful as it was difficult to make. It's a complex subject with a cast of big names and a production that's gotten out of hand. But full marks to Sanjay for sticking it out and to Aishwarya, Madhuri and Jackie for being kind to the film.

    You're not taking any credit for seeing the project through?

    I have a vested interest because I'm playing the title role. Then again, just because the film is called Devdas people shouldn't think it's my film. It's Madhuri, Ash and Jackie's film.

    Having you seen PC Barua, Saigal and Dilip Kumar's Devdas?

    No, I haven't seen these films. I've only read Sarat Chandra's novel and the script and interpreted Devdas in a way that may be like Dilip sahab's or may not. I see him as a man who was scared of making commitments. A man who doesn't want to hurt others, he'd rather hurt himself but in doing so ends up hurting the people he loves. I've played him like a normal guy even though I know there's something not quite normal about him. He's disturbed, has a complex that I haven't quite been able to pinpoint.

    You worked on Asoka and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham almost simultaneously. How was it moving from history to today's reality in the space of a few hours?

    Difficult! In Asoka the look, the costumes, my actions and even the language I speak was very different. After Asoka when I saw myself in KKKG while dubbing even I was surprised. "Is that me too?" I wondered. It was difficult to imagine that both characters were played by the same actor. Rahul is such a normal guy, so ordinary. He has his frailties. Of course, so does Asoka which makes him human. But in the end Asoka was a great man. I may want to be like Asoka but I can never be him. I'm too small a man!

    Which film was more fulfilling?

    Well, as Rahul of KKKG I've not broken any barriers. Rahul's nice, I think I've played him well. But I've done 35 films to date and played so many different Rajs and Rahuls. He can't be very different from them though I hope he is. But as the actor and producer of Asoka I'd say I've been quite revolutionary. It takes guts to veer so far away from the familair and the conventional. In fact, I'd say that more than me it was a really courageous decision on the part of Aziz (Mirza) and Juhi to back a film like Asoka and give ShahRukh Khan a role more suited to macho heroes like Sunny and Sanjay Dutt. For me it was always a good deal because I was getting a role any actor would love to play, a director like Santosh and producers like Juhi
    and Aziz.

    We've been told that you were always the first choice for the role?

    No, I was the second choice, or may be the third. I think Santosh wanted Bobby. He even considered Akshay and Abhishek but there were date problems, I'm told. For an actor it was a dream role and anyone would have fitted the bill. Santosh was very clear that he wanted to do the film whether I did it or not.

    Were you nervous when you took your film to Venice for the film festival?

    Very. In Venice, Kareena, Gauri and I were were all strangers to the press and the audience. Before the screening there was dinner and people were politely kind and respectful.Imagine my surprise when after the last credits they all got up and gave us a standing ovation. I was standing there with my son and people were walking past, clapping.

    It must have been a real high?

    It was! When we went out for dessert, complete strangers were telling me how much they had loved the war scenes and the songs. They were amazed by the film's technicality, the sweep of colour and the emotional impact of it. They were dazzled by Kareena and shocked that it had no special effects. They thought it had cost us anything between $25-50,000. "Are all Hindi films like this?" they wanted to know. (Smiles) I didn't tell them lots of them are not like this.

    What was the most surprising reaction?

    Well, I was surprised when I was told by the foreigners to put in more songs. I confessed that we had two more songs that we had edited out in the print that went to Venice. (Laughs) This was the first time I was at an international film festival and though the foreign press had no idea who ShahRukh Khan was at least my director, Santosh Sivan was popular thanks to his The Terrorist.

    Was the reception different in Toronto?

    We were three days late for the Toronto film festival because we were stuck in New York following the terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. Eventually, Jay, Hiroo Johar, Gauri, Aryan and I chartered a private plane to take us to Toronto for a day. We made it there on the last day and our film got only a public viewing which is not a very good option for a producer but both shows of our film drew full houses. Of course, this time 60-70 per cent of the audience were Indians and they laughed at all the right places, clapped at the right places. Though it was a bad print it was obvious they enjoyed the film. For them it wasn't an exotic Indian film but a normal Hindi film.

    When you announced your second production, Ashoka--The Great had you anticipated that it would get such rave reviews from the foreign press?

    I don't think we ever announced the film, and certainly not a film called Ashoka--The Great. It was always Ashoka that later became Asoka because I liked the way the word looked. That's the only reason we changed the title. I've never spoken about the film before to anyone but the distributors and Tom uncle (Yash Johar). They weren't too keen because our last production, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani hadn't done too well. But we decided to go ahead with Asoka because in this office we thought it was a film that needed to be made. Today, we're ready with our second film. I don't know if it is a big film or a small film, a bad film or a great film. All I know is that if it doesn't do well we'll probably never make another film. (Sighs).

    Juhi admits that this is not the best time to release a film.

    It isn't but we didn't know there was a war coming. If the film suffers because the time is not right, then may be it's a sign from
    God that we shouldn't be making any more films. People living abroad are telling us not to stall the overseas release. But how long can you hold back?

    It must have been a real blow when Sony dropped the overseas and satellite rights of the film less than a month from the film's release?

    They didn't announce their decision last month. We were told 3-4 months ago that they wanted to back out of the deal. It's okay. If someone doesn't want to release our film for whatever reasons, I respect the decision even though I have never met Mr Maroo. I was negotiating with Kunal Dasgupta and Rekha Nigam who are friends and good people. But they work for a company and obviously the decision was taken in the interest of their company. Financially, it wasn't really a big blow to us because Asoka is a small film and we've sold it so cheap, at Rs 1 crore per territory, that it just can't be a losing proposition. But yes, with Sony dropping out, we have to release the film ourselves overseas. And the cost of print and publicity goes out of our pockets. However, when Sony said that Asoka was not a film worth releasing, I thought we had to release the film ourselves.

    What was it like meeting with the President, KR Narayanan who was presented with the first copy of the book, The Making Of Asoka?

    Well, I have met the President before. He had presented me with the National Citizen's Award and he remembered the occasion. It was gracious of him to agree to this ceremony at such a short notice. We wanted him to receive the first copy of the book because Asoka was a person of national importance. We wanted all the important people of the country to see the film and read the book. I met the Prime Minister also recently and presented him with a copy of the book too. I hope both Atalji and Mr Narayanan read the book. The President flipped through it and after seeing some of the photographs told me that Asoka appeared to be a "sexy" film (Laughs).

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  3. Meghna04

    Meghna04 ChakDe SRK!

    A sexy film? That's an interesting reaction?

    It was a reaction I got at Toronto and Venice too.

    How did the idea for the book come about?

    I've always wanted to be associated with a book on the making of a film though such a book had never been published before. A book on Asoka seemed just perfect because a film like this lends itself to such a document not just for its historical significance but also because with a director like Santosh at the helm, it was photographed like a dream. I had discussed the idea with Juhi and Aziz at the outset and they'd advised me to wait and see how the film shaped up. We had been assimilating the text as the film was progressing and after seeing the stills my co-producers gave me the go ahead. The book was put together in less than a fortnight. It's beautiful!

    This hasn't been an easy year for you, has it? Since Bharat Shah's arrest you have been pulled in for questioning several times. These sessions must be really taxing?

    (Shrugs) It's a part of life. Certain importance is given to you when you're a known star. But I had no financial dealings with Bharat Shah. He was just the producer and financier of my films.

    But he had dealings with B4U. Is that why you have opted out of the board?

    I was never on the B4U board. There was just a deal with them on my site, SRK World. But after the B4U management changed they, decided they couldn't fulfil this commitment (Shrugs).

    This hasn't been a good year for the film industry either. And with two of your big films coming up, your colleagues must now be looking to you to save show business?

    They'd be silly to do that. I'm just an actor. I can't save anyone from anything. Asoka's just a film I believe in, another film I'm
    acting and producing. As for Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, that film doesn't need me to sell it. It is being made by one of the biggest producers, directed by the biggest name in the country and it has a cast of six superstars.

    What was it like working with these six superstars?

    Well, I'd worked with most of them individually before. Mr Bachchan's wonderful. Kareena's stupendous! Kajol, as I've always said, is one of the favourite parts of my career. Jaya aunty is a great actress too! This is the first time Hrithik and I will be seen on the screen together but I've made movies with him and his dad before. Rani's really sweet and Karan's family.

    Your Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge recently completed 300 weeks at a Mumbai theatre making it the longest running film in the annals of Hindi cinema. What's it like to make history of a different kind?

    I was driving down Juhu the other day and I saw a poster of the film. It still looks so nice! When we were making it none of us ever imagined it would be so big. I'm happy for Adi (Aditya Chopra) who made his debut as a director with this film. I want to make another DDLJ with him now. A creative person can't rest on his laurels, can he? As for being a part of history, I remember when I'd first came down to Mumbai Sholay held the record for being the longest running Hindi film. It's unthinkable that today one of my films has the honour. But I still think Sholay is a great film and Amitabh Bachchan is still my hero, always will be. I love being in the same space as he.

    Mannat is finally yours, we've been told. How does it feel bringing your kids up in a heritage bungalow?

    It's the press who auctioned Mannat off and then returned it to me. Some months ago they said my bungalow had been taken away from me, now they say I have it back. Both versions are wrong and I don't want to talk about it. As for what it is like living with my family in a heritage bungalow, well, it's no big deal. It's just a house. Our home!

    You must be really happy your son is following in your footsteps and from such an early age?

    Hey, he's no actor. Karan wanted for him just one shot in KKKG, that's it! As for following in my footsteps, I'd rather he followed in the footsteps of Abhishek Bachchan, Fardeen Khan and Hrithik Roshan.

    How do you feel when you watch Aryan and your daughter, Suhana play together?

    I feel this is God's gift to me for all the hard work I've done all these years and my belief in film-making. When I see my kids shout, laugh and fight together, the kind of satisfaction and gratification I feel is something no amount of awards or box-office rewards can bring. Even being part of history pales in comparison.

    source: ScreenIndia.com
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  4. Evy

    Evy Well-Known Member

    Talking about Asoka

    Thanks for the article Nicole. I love ASOKA. The interview is really great and interest. Shah Rukh and Santosh had many thoughts and excellent ideas to create this special character which was surely not easy. :thumb:
  5. Wafa

    Wafa I want my Mom!!!

    great interview thanks nicole. I love the movie, why it didn't do well in the box office is beyond me !
  6. Meghna04

    Meghna04 ChakDe SRK!

    Yes Wafa, that's the question which I ask me every time when I see this wonderful movie.
    I can't understand this...:tsk: :tsk: :tsk:

    Maybe the audience wasn't ready for "such" a movie... :noidea:

    For me this movie is very very special! :heart:
    It will be forever my :first:

    btw... it is possible that we'll get a "Asoka-smilie"? :D ;)
  7. Wafa

    Wafa I want my Mom!!!

    I wish they consider Asoka 2 :thumb:
  8. veronicas

    veronicas ~Forever Yours~

    I love this movie a lot also and I would love to see Asoka 2:p
  9. veronicas

    veronicas ~Forever Yours~

    Thanks Nicole:) . It seems like you and Wafa are compiting right now who will post more about him;) ,.. He... He... He... Just kidding, I know we need 40,000 posts,:D :p :p you guys are great, thanks:hug:
  10. Alana

    Alana New Member

    Year a Ashoka 2 would be great I want to know more about this guy. I love everything which is historian and religious. And there is both in it. It would be interessting how the "journey" continous.

    For my mischief I have only a bad version of this movie with a horrible german synchronisation, but never the less, the movie is great. What a great story!

    I think one of the most interessting people in it is this monk, with the telling of the journey at the beginning and at the end. He's not really a part of the movie but very present in the short moments. It's like in a greek drama, the person who tells the audience the story.
    I think it's very buddhistic way to think, about a journey of the soul and the changing which comes as a result. No matter that the finding comes threw a cruel way. Only the result counts. There's no judgement.

    What I like also is the character of Kaurwaki. She's such a strong person to forgive him all his cruelty, his lies and the chaos he did. I think she acts in a very buddhdistic way or even in a chritian way. She forgives him because of the power of love and that finally changes him.
    What I think also is that he's not cruel in the whole way. He marrys this buddhistic girl, because she rescued him. For me it shows that he cares for people after all. But she hasn't the power to change him completely.

    And for the songs is to say, I think Roshine Se is one of the most erotic choreoghraphie he ever did. And the video is so abstract, completely outtaken from the world. The other songs are also nice but not in the centre of the movie. The equipment is excellent. And so it's a great movie and I can't understand why it wasn't a great success after all.
  11. srkpreityfan

    srkpreityfan Well-Known Member

    I hope to see it for the second time this weekend. I heard that Gauri walked out of the premier - is there any truth to this? And if so, why?
  12. Alana

    Alana New Member

    I know this story from leaving only from Shakti! But never heard that she left at Ashoka, too.

    And at teh Shakti premiere she left, because she doesn't like his character!
  13. sanjani

    sanjani Ullu-Club Member

    Really?? I find it a hard reaction if it was because of the movie...:eek:
  14. layla-val

    layla-val Active Member

    I've never heard of this:confused: as far as I know, the only film she walked out of was Shakti:(
  15. Alana

    Alana New Member

    I think she like him only in such movies like Mohabbatain, Shahrukh said this somewhere, or something like this. If it's hard, yes well she could tell him at home that she doesn't like it!:D
  16. srkpreityfan

    srkpreityfan Well-Known Member

    OH!!! This was probably my getting Asoka mixed up with Shakti. My apologies.... Thanks for putting me straight, all...
  17. Alana

    Alana New Member

    Doesn't matter I mix up everything myself sometimes!:)
  18. hanady

    hanady Hanady

    Thank you Nicole. This is really a very nice interview. I love Asoka and was very impressed by it. SRK was more than great in it.
  19. Pakiza

    Pakiza New Member

    i loved this movie too!! i guess teh lagaan hype came in tahts why:mad: :mad:
  20. saffy_gal

    saffy_gal ~~*I luv SRK*~~muaah

    Tu hi meri shab hai..subah hai...tu hi din hai mera.. tu hi mera rab hai jahan hai..tu hi meri duniya...tu waqt mere liye ...main hoon tera lamha...kaise rahega bhaala...hoke tu mujhse juda..!!!

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