Cinematographer turned director Santosh Sivan follows up on his acclaimed 1999 opus Malli with this sweeping historical epic. Asoka, the emperor of the Mauryan dynasty between 274 and 232 B.C., was famed for having unified much of modern-day India and for raising Buddhism from obscurity to the ranks of a world religion. Early in his life, as Emperor of the region of Magadha, he waged a brutal campaign against the neighboring fiefdom of Challenge, leaving the land bloody and ravaged. The war paid a toll on the young king; having realized the full horror that he wrought, Asoka renounced violence and turned to the spiritual sanctuary of Buddhism. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.