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Shah Rukh Khan
Gerson Da Cunha
Author, Making of Asoka
'Shah Rukh and I played cricket together in school'
Asoka is a story of Magadha (present Bihar) and Kalinga (present Orissa). In those days, Patliputra (the capital of Magadha) was the most advanced state in India. People from all over the world used to come to study there. Universities like the Nalanda and Ujjain were internationally renowned. Ironically, the illiteracy rate in Bihar is one of the highest in India. It has become one of the most backward state in the country.
I have a great role and 18 scenes in Asoka. I play Bheema, the senapati of Kalinga. My sole object is to protect the heir to the throne, a small child named Aryan (Suraj Balaji), as some people in the kingdom want to kill him.
Bheema is a man of few words. His relationship with Aryan is like that of a father and child.
In Champion, my debut film, I played a negative role. I wanted to kill a child and eradicate his entire family. In Asoka, I'm the opposite. I'm willing to give up my life to save a child.
The battle of Kalinga is the climax of the film. Kalinga was the only kingdom that was not conquered by Ashoka, which explains the bloody battle.
Though they do put up a fight, Kalinga is no match for the strong powerful army of Ashoka. The emperor sends his entire force and destroys the kingdom.
Shah Rukh and I have been acquaintances since our school days (St Columbus High School) in New Delhi. He was my senior but we'd play cricket together. He used to keep the wicket.
He always wanted to act and was an active participant at our school dramatics. He always had the central role in most of the plays. I remember, he was the Wizard in Wizard Of Oz.
Suraj, the young boy in the film, with his sweet, dimpled smile and a few front teeth missing was adorable.
Shoots always began on time. If we were to start at 5am, we did. It was hard work. But we enjoyed ourselves too.
On the last day of shooting at Panchmarhi, we threw ourselves a party. The music was mostly songs from Shah Rukh's films. And Shah Rukh entertained us, he danced to Chhaiyyan chhaiyyan, and all the Baazigar and Baadshah songs. All this, despite his knee injury. He is a real sport. He hasn't let stardom get to his head.
Rahul Dev spoke with Ronjita Das