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November 7, 2001

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SRK, Karriena effigies burnt

Imran Khan in Bhubaneshwar

An effigy of superstar Shah Rukh Khan, the actor-producer of the recently released Asoka, was burnt in Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of Orissa, today.

An effigy of the film's actress Karriena Kapoor, who played the role of a Kalinga princess, was also burnt in front of a cinema hall, where the film was being screened.

The agitated activists of the socio-cultural organisation, Kalinga Sena, burnt the effigies, objecting to the portrayal of Emperor Ashoka, who was depicted as the self-styled saviour of Kalinga, modern day Orissa. "It is our protest against the distortion of history of Kalinga and assassination of a historical figure by producers for easy money," said Sena president Hemant Rath.

The Sena has also demanded a ban on the film.

It may be recalled that historians, social activists and the former speaker of the Orissa Assembly had raised their objection to the distortion of history in Asoka.

About 100 activists of the Kalinga Sena gathered in front of Swati cinema hall in the heart of city before the noon show of the film began. The activists shouted slogans in Hindi and Oriya against Khan and the film's director Santosh Sivan. The film was released last week and is doing well here.

The Sena activists held banners and cards which read: "Asoka is anti-Kalinga propaganda by its producer and writer', 'The film has distorted history', 'It's not history, it's humiliation of a nation'.

"Our demonstration was to register protest against the film," a Kalinga Sena activist said.

"We are also planning to demonstrate at several other movie halls in the state where the film is released," Rath, who is also president of the State Trinamul Congress, said.

The activists also tore the film's posters and rushed into the theatre complex to stop the screening. However, the show went on with out any disturbances, the talkies manager Deba Prasad said.

The police had been anticipating trouble. They were informed of the demonstrations. "We have not arrested anyone because it was a peaceful demonstration. Nobody has complained against it," a city police official said.

Shah Rukh Khan plays the lead role of King Ashoka, while Karriena Kapoor plays Kaurwaki, princess of the ancient kingdom Kalinga. Those who oppose the film allege that director Sivan has not given enough importance to the historical background of the period.

The film gives credit to Kaurwaki for Ashoka's change of heart. It says he turned pacifist because of Kaurwaki's love, which is not true. "I do not know how the Censor Board approved the film," Dr M N Das, the only Indian historian who has researched the Kalinga war, said.

Sivan's film has Ashoka lose his heart to Kalinga princess Kaurwaki. Historical evidence however reveals that Kaurwaki was not a princess at all. "If she was a princess, then who was the king?" Das, a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress party, asks. "There is enough evidence only to suggest that she was a Buddhist woman from Kalinga who guided Ashoka to Buddhism."

Former speaker Yudhister Das has also demanded ban on the screening of the film.

ALSO READ:
Asoka stirs up the historians
The Myth, The Truth -- Asoka

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