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Duryodhana (Sanskrit: दुर्योधन, literally means Dur= Extremely hard, Yodhana= Yudh/Fight; the one with whom the fight is extremely hard,) also known as Suyodhana, is a major antagonist in the Hindu epic Mahabharata and was the eldest of the Kauravas, the hundred sons of blind king Dhritarashtra and Queen Gandhari. Being the firstborn son of the blind king, he was the crown prince of Kuru Kingdom and its capital Hastinapura along with his cousin Yudhishtra who was older than him. Karna was Duryodhana's closest friend. Notably, Duryodhana, with significant assistance from Karna, performs Vaishnava Yagna when the Pandavas are in exile. Duryodhana used his greater skill in wielding the mace to defeat opponents. He was also an extremely courageous warrior and he was said to be a bad ruler. Duryodhana's greed and arrogance, were the two qualities said to lead to his downfall in the Mahabharata.
Duryodhana showing his army to Drona
|Title||"Yuvaraja"(Crown Prince) of Kuru Kingdom|
|Children||Laxman Kumara, Lakshmanaa|
When Gandhari's pregnancy continued for an unusually long period of time, she beat her womb in frustration. This caused a hardened mass of grey-colored flesh to issue from her womb. She implored Vyasa, the great sage who had blessed her as "Shata Putra Praptirasthu" (Sanskrit for "blessed with a hundred sons"), to redeem his words. Vyasa divided the ball of flesh into one hundred and one equal pieces and put them in pots of milk, which were sealed and buried into the earth for two years. At the end of the second year, the first pot was opened, and Duryodhana emerged.
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Although loved by his family, Duryodhana and most of his brothers are not seen on the same level as the Pandavas in their adherence to virtue, duty, and respect for elders. Duryodhana feels that the partiality everyone shows to the Pandavas is only due to the circumstances of their birth. Duryodhana is mentored by his maternal uncle Shakuni, who masterminded most of Duryodhana's plots to humiliate and kill the Pandavas.
Duryodhana's hatred for the Pandavas stems from his sincere belief that he being the son of the eldest brother and the then king is the heir apparent to the throne of Hastinapura. Because of his blindness, his father had to renounce the throne in favor of the younger brother, Pandu. Duryodhana deeply believed that what was rightfully his was being given away to his older cousin Yudhishthira. He also felt that the Pandavas were sons of Kunti and (devas/deities), not of Pandu. He never believed that their divine origin alone proved their superiority, on many occasions questioning their merits, and always calling them the 'Kaunteya' (sons of Kunti). He also bore a deep hatred of Bhima, who was older than him but much stronger and dominated his brothers in sport and skill with his immense physical power and strength. When they were young, Bhima's bullying and taunting was a constant source of pain for Duryodhana and his brothers.
Learning martial skills from his gurus Dronacharya, he proved to be extremely skilled with the mace. He then went to specialize in mace fighting under Balarama and went on to become his favorite pupil. Balarama described Duryodhana's body to be "lightning made flesh" and declares him to be the greatest mace fighter of his generation.
Relationship with KarnaEdit
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At the martial exhibition where the Kaurava and Pandava princes demonstrate their skills before their elders, their guru Drona and the people of that kingdom, Karna appears and challenges an unsuspecting Arjuna, who is considered by Drona to be the best of the princes. But Karna is stopped when Kripa asks him to ascertain his lineage, as it would be inappropriate for unequal to compete. Karna, not being a kshatriya, hangs his head in shame.
Duryodhana immediately defends Karna, arguing that it is actions, and not birth, that defines a warrior. Using the boon granted to him by Dhritarashtra, Duryodhana makes Karna king of Anga so that he is regarded as Arjuna's equal. Karna pledges his allegiance and friendship to Duryodhana. Neither of them know that Karna is in fact Kunti's oldest son, born to (sun god) Surya, before her marriage to Pandu.
In the Kurukshetra War, Karna is Duryodhana's greatest champion and serves as commander from the fifteenth day. Duryodhana sincerely believes that Karna is superior to Arjuna, and will defeat his four brothers. When Karna is killed, Duryodhana mourns his death intensely, even more so than the death of his own brothers and was inconsolable. When Karna's identity is revealed to him, Duryodhana's love for Karna only grows and it is said to be he, and not the Pandavas, who performs Karna's last rites. Krishna confirms that he has the highest right over Karna, as they loved and supported each other truly.
Tendencies and schemesEdit
During their childhood Bhima used his brute strength to inflict injuries on the Kaurava brothers. As Bhima was gluttonous, Duryodhana, guided by Shakuni attempted to kill Bhima by feeding him poison, but Bhima survived the trap and emerged even stronger than before. Duryodhana then participated in a plot by Shakuni to burn the Pandavas in a house of wax at Varnavata; however, they managed to escape the trap having been warned by Vidura.
Usurping the KingdomEdit
After the Pandavas reveal that they have survived the wax house, with a new wife to boot, Bhishma suggests that the kingdom be divided in order to ease the obvious tension. Yudhishthira is given half the kingdom and made king of Khandavprastha, so as to avoid a clash with the Kaurava princes over the whole Kuru Kingdom. Duryodhana becomes the crown prince of Hastinapura, and owing to the age and blindness of his father, he accumulates much control and influence, managing the state affairs himself with a group of his advisers that include his uncle Shakuni, brother Dushasana, Bhishma, Vidura, and Karna.
But Duryodhana remains jealous of Yudhishthira, especially after the Pandavas along with Krishna transform Khandavaprastha to Indraprastha. Moreover, Yudhishthira performs the Rajasuya Yagna and gains the authority over several other kingdoms; Indraprastha's prosperity and fame appear to exceed Hastinapura's. Duryodhana is unable to contain his anger, which is intensified when Bhima, Arjuna, the twins, and the servants laugh at him when he slips into a pool of water during a visit to Indraprastha.
In popular culture, television shows and post-modern novels on Mahabharata attribute this blame to Draupadi with an added statement "the son of the blind man also is blind", but the scene in the canonical text of Vyasa's Sanskrit epic is different. As per original scripture written by Ved Vyasa Draupadi didn't taunt Duryodhana. This enrages Duryodhana and increases his hostility towards the Pandavas.
The dice plot, and Draupadi's humiliationEdit
Raging in jealousy by the prosperity and fame of Indraprashta, and being humiliated by the Pandavas, makes Duryodhana furious and he wishes to throw down the Pandavas. To support his will, Shakuni devises a scheme to rob Yudhishthira of his kingdom and wealth by defeating him in a game of dice, which Shakuni cannot lose due to his superior skill over Yudhishthira's ineptitude and addiction to the game of dice.
Unable to resist the challenge, Yudhishthira gambles away his entire kingdom, his wealth, his four brothers and even his wife, in a series of gambits to retrieve one by staking another. Duryodhana encourages his brother Dushasana to drag Draupadi into the court. As she is Duryodhana's property after Yudhishthira gambled everything away to him, Duryodhana tells Draupadi to sit on his left thigh, showing and patting it to insult her for revenge. He also instructs Dushasana to disrobe her, however, she is saved by Krishna.
Due to this action, Bhima swears he would break Duryodhana's thigh.
As an enraged Draupadi is about to curse the Kuru clan, Gandhari intervenes. Fearing retribution by the Pandavas, their allies, and history, Dhritarashtra and Gandhari reverse all of Yudhishthira's losses. But then (either through Duryodhana forcing his father to command the Pandavas to play again, or through Shakuni's vicious tricks) the game is repeated. For this game of dice Shakuni sets the condition that upon losing, Yudhishthira and his brothers must spend thirteen years in exile in the forest before they may reclaim their kingdom. The thirteenth year must be passed incognito, or else the term of exile would be repeated. The Pandavas lose and begin their exile.
The uncrowned EmperorEdit
In the Chaturdhari compilation, it is interpolated that Karna took up the task of establishing Dhritharashtra (for Duryodhana) as the Emperor of the world . Karna embarks upon a worldwide military campaign, otherwise called Digvijaya Yatra. Bringing tribute and allegiance from all the kings ruling over in then India except Dwaraka, Karna helped Duryodhana to perform the Vaishnava yagya to please Vishnu and crown Duryodhana as "Emperor of the World", as Yudhishthira did with the Rajasuya Yagna. No person in the entire universe, except Lord Vishnu, had performed this Vaishnava sacrifice. Duryodhana thus became the most powerful and the wealthiest man in the world. With the help of Karna, Duryodhana even made plans and preparations to conquer Indra, the lord of the heavens and the father of Arjuna in order to become the sovereign ruler of both heaven and earth. If he had ascended to throne of Kuru kingdom in the 13-year period, Duryhodhana would have been the emperor of the world.
The Kurukshetra WarEdit
Peace Talks and BuildupEdit
At the end of the exile term, Duryodhana refuses to return Yudhishthira's kingdom, despite the counsel of Bhishma, Dronacharya, and Vidura. Although Dhritarashtra openly criticizes his son, he tacitly desires that Duryodhana retain his throne. In a final attempt at securing peace, Krishna returns with the Pandavas' final proposal: the Pandavas would give up all claims to Indraprastha and Hastinapura in exchange for five villages. Scoffing, Duryodhana says he will not even give even a needlepoint of land to the Pandavas. Egged on by Krishna, Duryodhana attempts to arrest him. Krishna reveals his Vishvarupa form. The entire Kaurava court, save for Bhishma, Drona, Vidura, and Dhritarashtra (who was granted divine vision in order to see that by supporting his son, he was going against God), is temporarily blinded by the form. This confirms to those present that Krishna is indeed an avatar of Vishnu. Duryodhana, being vastly egoistic (in some versions of the story an outright atheist), brushes off the incident, not convinced of Krishna's divinity, and believing that strength of arms, not philosophy, would win him a war.
Gathering the armyEdit
With war inevitable, Duryodhana gathers support from his powerful vassals. The most legendary warriors – Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Shrutyudha, even those who were critical of him are forced to fight for Duryodhana due to their previous commitments. He ends up amassing a larger army than his rivals.
Shakuni also advises Duryodhana to seek Krishna's help. Duryodhana rushes to Dwarika only to find Krishna sleeping; he waits at the head of Krishna's bed when suddenly, Arjuna arrives with the same goal in mind. Arjuna waits at the foot of Krishna's bed. When Krishna wakes up, both Duryodhana and Arjuna appeal for his alliance. Krishna offers a choice of himself, completely unarmed or the entire Vrishni army. Duryodhana proclaims that because he arrived first, he should get first-pick. However, Krishna says that because he saw Arjuna first and because Arjuna is younger, that Arjuna gets first choice. Duryodhana becomes worried but is overjoyed when Arjuna elects to reject Krishna's army in favor of Krishna alone. Joyously, Duryodhana returns to Hastinapura with the Vrishni army in hand, only to be rebuked by Shakuni, who comments that Krishna is worth many armies by himself.
Duryodhana also manages to win the army of Shalya, the maternal uncle of the Pandavas. Duryodhana intercepts Shalya's army as it comes to Kurukshetra and offers hospitality; Shalya accepts thinking Yudhishthira had made the offer. After Shalya has enjoyed Duryodhana's comforts, Duryodhana reveals the duplicity and indicates that Shalya is now indebted to him. He uses this indebtedness to extract Shalya's army and support. Duryodhana wanted Shalya mainly so that Karna would have an equivalent charioteer to Arjuna's Krishna.
Bhima attacked Duryodhana, pierced him and cut of his bow. In return, Duryodhana pierced Bhima, his Charioteer and cut of his bow. Duryodhana pierced Bhima with shafts on his breast. Bhima feeling great pain fled away from the battlefield.
On 8th day, Rakashasaas of Ghatotkacha's army attacked Duryodhana. Duryodhana slew many rakshasas like Vegavat, Maharudra, Vidyujihva and Pramathin. Duryodhana attacked Bhima and pierced him with many arrows. Ghatotkacha, Abhimanyu and other Pandavas warriors saved him.
Uttamauja and Yudhamanyu (sons of Drupad) attacked Duryodhana and Duryodhana defeated them in mace fighting. After the death of Jayadratha, Duryodhana became very angry and he started killing Pandava army.
On the eighteenth day of the war, with his army reduced to himself, Ashwatthama, Kripa and Kritvarma, Duryodhana goes to meditate in a lake. When the Pandavas and Krishna eventually find him, Duryodhana tells them that he wants to gift the kingdom to them, and retire to the forest. Yudhishthira balks at the offer, telling him that Hastinapur is not Duryodhana's to gift. Instead, he offers that Duryodhana may pick any of the Pandava brothers to fight against one-to-one with a weapon of his choice, with the winner of the conflict the victor of the war.
Despite his proposed advantage over Yudhishthira, Arjuna, Nakula, or Sahadeva with the gada, Duryodhana picks his nemesis Bhima. Despite Bhima's physical advantage, Duryodhana had the better technique due to his devotion to his craft. After a long and brutal battle between the two disciples of Balarama, Duryodhana begins to exhaust Bhima, and nearly makes Bhima faint.
At this point, Krishna, observing the fight, calls out to Bhima and signals him by repeatedly clapping his own thigh with his hand. As intended, Bhima was reminded of an oath he had taken after the game of dice to crush Duryodhana's thighs. Bhima victoriously attacks Duryodhana with his mace and strikes his thigh, mortally wounding Duryodhana. After having his face insultingly kicked by Bhima, Duryodhana bemoans that he was slain by unfair means, given that it was illegal to attack below the waist in a mace fight.
Infuriated at the violation, Balarama, the brother of Lord Krishna, raises his weapon to attack. Lord Krishna consoles Balarama, by reminding him of Duryodhana's evil deeds, and reprimands him for trying to influence a war he refused to participate in.
Lying defeated, Duryodhana boasts to the Pandavas about how he will die a glorious death, about how he got to enjoy Hastinapur while the Pandavas were in exile, and about how he would now spend the afterlife in the company of his friends and relatives. He again eviscerates the Pandavas for all their chicanery during the war and decries their legacy. Venerating his own character, Duryodhana proclaims he will die happily.
When the coast is clear, Ashwatthama, Kripacharya, and Kritvarma, having witnessed the fight and not wanting to interrupt so as to rob Duryodhana of his honor, come to Duryodhana's broken body. Duryodhana commands them to take revenge on the Pandavas, and to specifically kill all the five Pandava brothers and he then specified, "only after seeing their blood on your sword shall i pass away peacefully, ashwatthama." Hence Ashwatthama was now ready to murder all five pandavas even though the war was over. Using the blood from his body, Duryodhana appoints Ashwatthama as the army's supreme commander.
Ashwatthama charges toward the pandava camp, since the war was now over, the pandavas were now completing the post war warrior rituals and celebrations with their wife Draupadi, while their five sons Upapandavas, children of Draupadi, had peacefully gone to bed. Draupadi had been having a bad feeling about leaving the upapandavas alone, but the Pandavas were insistent upon making her join the winning rituals, because they believed that the reason the war happened and was won in the first place, was draupadi. And so they convinced her to join them, by reminding her that even the Upapandavas were brave warriors.
Ashwatthama killed many soldiers making his way to the "Vijay Tent" a tent where the royal family rests. But he was unaware that the Pandavas were not present in the vijay tent. On his way, he encountered the prince of Panchal, Draupadi's brother, Drishtadyumn. Drishtadyumn made an attempt to stop Aswatthama but since the war had been won, Drishtadyumn wasn't prepared or alert enough to fight back successfully, and besides, Drishtadyumn was the one who had killed Ashwatthama's father, Dronacharya, hence Ashwatthama, already angry at the deceitful killing of his father, killed Drishtadyumn.
He then proceeded to the vijay tent killing yet more soldiers, and slayed all the Five sleeping Entities that he thought were the Pandavas, but were actually the Sons of the Pandavas. Draupadi rushed back to the tent as her sixth sense alerted her, but by then it was too late.
After killing the Upapandavas, Ashwatthama proceeds toward Duryodhana.
Ashwatthama believes he has killed the Pandavas and tells this to Duryodhana, who is elated at the news. He shows Duryodhana the blood on his sword claiming that it belongs to the pandavas, hearing this Duryodhana peacefully leaves his body satisfied with revenge. The consequences Ashwatthama faced were worse than anyone in history, one of the reasons being that he killed the warriors in their sleep and after the war was over.
Concomitant with Duryodhana's death, Sanjaya loses his divine sight, which he had been using to update Duryodhana's father Dhritarashtra. This symbolizes the conclusion to the war.
According to the Mahabharata, after entering the Svarga (heaven) with a human body on Indra's invitation, Yudhishthira witnessed that Duryodhana "was seated on a beautiful throne and he shone with the splendour of the sun and around him stood in attendance the goddess of heroism and other entities of righteousness". Yudhishthira found this insufferable and reminded the dwellers of Svarga about his sinful deeds.
Following that, Narada smiled at Yudhishthira and explained that Duryodhana had suffered for his sins, and that ultimately, Duryodhana was a warrior who had defended his dharma and fought bravely and valiantly, having been a great ruler, a true friend, and a terrible foe.
Duryodhana lay in the battlefield, awaiting death, badly bruised by the wounds inflicted by Bhima.
He kept his three fingers in a raised position and was unable to speak. All the efforts made by his men to understand the meaning proved to be futile. Seeing his plight Krishna approached him and said "I know what issues occupy your mind. I will address them". Krishna identified the issues as:
- Not building a fort around Hastinapura,
- Not persuading Vidura to fight the battle, and
- Not making Ashwatthama the commander-in-chief after the death of Drona.
On hearing this Duryodhana closed all the fingers and rested. Duryodhana concluded that these three factors should have surely brought him victory. Had he built a fort around Hastinapura, he could have totally avoided the war in the first place.
If Vidura had fought on his side, he would have had the best strategist, even better than Krishna. At last, Duryodhana came to the conclusion that Krishna was, in fact, the avatar of Lord Vishnu.
If Duryodhana had named Ashwatthama the commander of the army after the death of Drona, victory would have surely have been his as Ashwatthama was born from "Ansha" of Lord Shiva. This would have countered Krishna. The thought that he had under-utilized Ashwatthama prompted Duryodhana to rethink and make him the commander of his army after his defeat. These events led to the complete destruction of the Pandavas' army, destroying almost their whole clan.
After the night raid of Ashwatthama on the Pandava camp, Duryodhana died in peace and glory, considering victory as his own, as he would die valiantly and peacefully and be reunited with his brothers, relatives and dearest friend Karna, whereas the Pandavas would live a misery-filled life, having lost everyone they cared about.
Duryodhana is a popular choice of analysis. His merits, flaws, symbolism, and relevance are widely discussed.
Urubhangam is a Sanskrit play written by Bhasa in the 2nd or 3rd century AD with Duryodhana as its primary protagonist. Written as a tragedy, the drama focuses on his point of view of the events of Mahabharata. His portrayal as a tragic hero is an especially unique within body of works in Sanskrit drama.
Many Hindus believe that Duryodhana was the personification of Kali. Many critics argue that he is not without positives; many consider Duryodhana as a fair king and there are temples dedicated to him and the Kauravas. Scholars believe that like most other characters of the Mahabharata, the true picture is not black and white. His name is often mistaken to mean bad ruler, however his name is actually coined from the Sanskrit words "du"/"duh" which means "difficult" and "yodhana" which means "fight"/"war". So Duryodhana actually means someone who is extremely difficult to fight/defeat or wage war against.
Duryodhana is viewed, by some, as the product of Dhritarashtra's ambition and also in a metaphorical sense, his "blindness". He is also praised for his adherence to his duties as a Kshatriya, and even in his last combat, fights bravely. He chooses to face Bhima in combat over all the other Pandavas, with whom he has an advantage in mace fighting. His skills in the mace are also praised; many stories call him the greatest mace-fighter of the age.
According to Mahabharata, when Bhishma has to pick Dhritarashtra's successor, he mentions to Vidura many of Duryodhana's positive qualities in comparison to Yudhishthira. Having spent so many years in the forest, Yudhishthira doesn't have Duryodhana's experience, military expertise, education, and courtly manners; alongside, Duryodhan treats all his subjects equally. Bhishma adds that Duryodhana is loved by the people, while Yudhishthira is an unknown quantity to them. Although Bhishma ultimately chooses Yudhishthira, it is said that Duryodhana was a wonderful ruler who the subjects looked up to: just, intelligent, powerful, experienced and equal.
Friendship with KarnaEdit
The friendship between Karna and Duryodhana is considered to be a great one, and is used as an example of friendship and loyalty. In the epic, Duryodhana decries the means of discrimination employed by Dronacharya and the others. He goes one step further to accord Karna a place among the royals, by crowning him the King of Anga and standing by him whenever anyone pointed a finger at his lower-birth. He seems to not care about the low birth of Karna and is the only one to vocally support Karna's candidature in the archery contest without caring about caste inequality. When Draupadi refuses to allow Karna to string the bow at her Swayamvara because of his low birth, Duryodhana defends him saying "great sages, philosophers, and warriors have no source. They are made great, not born great". In a modern light, his disrespect for discrimination and blind following of tradition, is seen more positively. A lesser known story is told about Karna, Duryodhana, and his wife Bhanumati, as an example of honest friendship. With the help of karna, Duryodhana married Bhanumathi. According to the Mahabharata, Duryodhana abducted Bhanumati, the maiden of the fairest complexion, from her swayamvara with the help of his best friend Karna in the wake of having been rejected by her.
It is said that, when Duryodhana had recently wedded Bhanumati, one day, he requested Karna to take care of her and entertain her for the evening as he had duties to be taken care of. To pass time, Karna and Bhanumati began playing a game of dice. The game soon got very interesting, engrossing the two of them completely. Gradually, Karna started winning. Meanwhile, Duryodhana had returned early, and entered the room. Seeing her husband come in, Bhanumati immediately stood up as a mark of respect. Karna, whose back was facing the door, did not realize this and misconstrued her intent, thinking that she was leaving because she was on the losing side.
He immediately reached for her pearl-trimmed shawl, and accidentally pulled so hard that the trimming broke, and the pearls were scattered all over the floor. Her veil also slipped along with the shawl, so she was half-dressed. Bhanumati, who was as yet, not so familiar with Karna, froze at the thought of how her husband would react. She had heard of his ego, and had personally been present the last time he was insulted, that had resulted in her own abduction.
Karna, following Bhanumati's stunned gaze, turned around to see Duryodhana observing them both carefully. He stood in shame, embarrassment and guilt, considering the wrath and inevitable punishment he was going to face from his friend. He was sure Duryodhana would immediately accuse them of impropriety. However, much to both their surprise, Duryodhana looked past Karna, and addressed his wife, “Should I just collect the beads, or would you like me to string them, as well?”
Bhanumati and Karna could only look at each other in shock, mutely, feeling ashamed at the way they had both severely misjudged him. He had implicit faith and great love for his queen, and even greater was his faith on his friend Karna. Not for a moment did he suspect that the man he had considered his brother would ever betray him, and only quietly picked up the pearls trustfully. This story is not present in the Vyasa Mahabharata, but is often commonly told when discussing Karna and Duryodhana's genuine friendship. 
- At Poruvazhy Peruviruthy Malanada Temple in Kerala's Kollam district, Duryodhana is worshipped as the main deity. It is the only temple in South India where a Kaurava is considered a God.
- In the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, several beautifully carved temples are dedicated to Duryodhana and he is worshipped as the deity. The mountain tribes of Kumaon fought along with Duryodhana in the Mahabharata war; he was venerated as a capable and generous administrator.
- There is a temple in Osla, Garhwal division of Uttarakhand. This was built by inhabitants of Saur. People believe he stayed here with the blessings of Lord Mahasu to care for the people.
Lakshmanaa and LakshmanEdit
Lakshmanaa was the daughter of Duryodhana and Bhanumati.
In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Laxmanaa is the daughter of Duryodhana and Bhanumati. She had a twin brother named Laxman Kumara. Little is revealed about Laxmanaa in the Mahabharata other than her marriage to Krishna's son Samba.
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|1977||Daana Veera Shura Karna||India||Telugu||N. T. Rama Rao|
|1988||Mahabharat (1988 TV series)||India||Hindi||Amit Shukla/Puneet Issar|
|1989||The Mahabharata||Belgium Australia U.S.
Norway Netherlands Japan
Ireland Iceland Finland
Denmark UK France
|1993||Krishna (TV series)||India||Hindi||Kumar Hegde|
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|2013||Mahabharat (2013 film)||India||Hindi||Jackie Shroff|
|2015||Suryaputra Karn||India||Hindi||Yash Karia/Shaleen Bhanot|
|2018||Karn Sangini||India||Hindi||Paras Chhabra|
|2019||Kurukshetra||India, Karnataka||Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi||Darshan|
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