"I was dancing in a train for a song in a movie ("Chaiyya Chaiyya" on the sets of Mani Ratnam's Dil Se..) that Santosh Sivan was lensing, and he came up to me between shots and told me about Asoka," says Shah Rukh Khan. "I could only understand half of what he said but I could see the determination in his eyes, and that, somehow or other, he would make it with or without me. That's 80% of the battle won. I was hooked."
The songs of the movie were composed by Anu Malik. Initially, A. R. Rahman was signed in to compose the film's music, but for reasons unknown, he opted out. Malik stepped in to compose the songs, while Sandeep Chowta was brought on board to for the background score. Gulzar wrote the lyrics for five songs, while one song was written by Anand Bakshi ("San Sanana"). The soundtrack was very successful and according to the Indian trade website Box Office India, with around 15,00,000 units sold, the album was the year's one of the highest-selling.
The portrayal of Asoka in the film proved controversial in India. "Shahrukh's Asoka is all bluster and mannerism, with no depth. Except for the nosebleeds and the mudbaths, he is the same Shahrukh of every other movie that he has acted in. The film leaves its many complex moments unexplored and disjointed, choosing to pitch it as a love story instead of an epic tale of war and peace," an Indian reviewer wrote.
Variety's David Rooney states, "a sprawling widescreen historical epic laced with Bollywood musical numbers, melodramatic romance, spectacular locations and violent battle scenes. Coming on the heels of Ashutosh Gowariker's Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, Asoka provides further evidence that Bollywood is poised for wider commercial impact beyond its already substantial established niche. And while the ambling, uneconomical nature of popular Indian storytelling makes major crossover business unlikely in this case, some degree of general art-house attention appears indicated. Khan cuts a dashing figure as a soulful hunk in the traditional Bollywood mould. At the same time, Kapoor plays ornately tattooed Kaurwaki as a lively mix of flirtatious coquette and feisty warrior woman, kind of like Jennifer Lopez meets Michelle Yeoh." Empire praised the movie gave it 4 out of 5 stars. It states,"Santosh Sivan may just be the man who provides that elusive Indian crossover hit with this rip-roaring historical adventure. The fact that Asoka was such a bloody warrior is no more ably demonstrated than when the battle scenes kick in near the end, it's like Akira Kurosawa goes Bollywood."
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Verily did our batting (in the two Tests and first four ODIs) look as slim as Aishwarya Rai's waist. Not knowing where to draw the waistline after the `Bollywood Hollywood' exposure they had (before, during and after the Mini World Cup), our world-beaters, did they become spot `soft' dismissal targets? As they found the red and white cherry wobbling all the way from Basin Reserve to Queenstown? Or did Sourav and his party think they had gone on a spot location shoot to New Zealand? With Gautam Bhimani obligingly there to pick out those favourite duet-picturising Kiwi spots of our movie moghuls? `Pardesee pardesee jaana naheen' no Karisma-stuck Indian resident in New Zealand was prepared to hum to a team suddenly divested of all charisma. Indeed the farming-the-bowling Aamir Khan's lily-white Karishma kudi (from that `Coca-Cola in the well' spot) made more eye-catching viewing than did any glam player of our team. A Karishma giving the `Femina Look Of The Year' to her navel in the mirror. As the ad-dame `one up' on the other two Coca-Colasses in the threesome's SUNSILKEN rivalry.
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