Aamir Khans son Junaid Khans film Maharaj stalled by Gujarat HC
'Maharaj', a Netflix film is based on the real story of an 1862 colonial era libel case

Aamir Khan's son Junaid Khan's film 'Maharaj' stalled by Gujarat HC

Junaid Khan's debut film 'Maharaj' has now caught the attention of right wing groups, who have filed a petition to stay the film's release on Netflix. Social media users are calling to boycott Netflix

After Nayanthara's 'Annapoorani', Junaid Khan's debut film 'Maharaj' has run into trouble.

Junaid Khan, who is the son of Aamir Khan, is all set to enter Bollywood with 'Maharaj', a film based on the real story of an 1862 colonial era libel case. The film, has now caught the attention of right wing groups, who have filed a petition to stay the release of the film on Netlfix.

The film which was to release this Friday (June 14) has been postponed. As the Gujarat high court has temporarily stayed the release of the Junaid Khan starrer.

YRF and Netflix are challenging the stay order, said a trade insider.

"The matter is in court. Maharaj is based on a real-life case. It is adapted from Saurabh Shah's book titled 'Maharaj'. The author has also come out to say that the film does not vilify the Vaishnav community or the religion.

"It is about a social reformer who brought about a positive change in society. The makers are hopeful for a positive outcome on this," the trade source said.

Who filed a petition?

According to reports, a petition was filed against the release of the film by the Vaishnavite Pustimargi sect.

The petitioners claimed that the film, based on the historic Maharaj libel case is likely to incite feelings of "hatred and violence" against the Pustimargi sect, which goes against the code of ethics under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics code) Rules 2021 and the self-regulation code of Over the Top technology (OTT).

The petitioners also said that they were not allowed to watch the film nor were they given any clarifications about the film.

What is the film about?

It is based on the 1862 libel case filed against journalist and social reformer Karsandas Mulji (portrayed by Junaid Khan). Mulji wrote an article in 'Satyaprakash', a Gujarat weekly circulated in Bombay alleging that Jadunath Maharaj (played in the film by Jaideep Ahlawat) had sexual liaisons with women followers and that men were expected to show their devotion by offering their wives for sex with the religious leader. A defamation charge was slapped on Mulji.

The libel suit was ultimately dismissed by two British judges of the supreme court of Bombay. The court ruled in favour of the defendants saying that the journalist ‘was only doing his duty as a journalist of exposing the misdeeds of the religious leader’.

Karsandas Mulji was a pioneering advocate for women’s rights and social reform. A student at Elphinstone College in Mumbai and a protege of the scholar-leader Dadabhai Naoroji, Mulji wrote on widow remarriage, stood up for the oppressed, and sowed the seeds of reform in society.

The film also has Shalini Pandey and Sharvari in supporting roles. Produced by Aditya Chopra under YRF Entertainment, the film was releasing with no promotions at all and not even a teaser or trailer. Netflix had only released a poster of the film prior to the release.

Shah, the author of the 2016 book, said in a post on X that people should form an opinion only after watching the film.

"This film is neither against Sanatan nor Vaishnav sect. Me and my family are part of the Vaishnav community with full devotion. The book written by me and the film made by @yrf are both in favour of the Vaishnav community... 'Maharaj' is a story that Hindus should be proud of," he added on Thursday.

Social media calls for a boycott

Meanwhile, hashtag 'Boycott Netflix' started to surface on social media.

VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi was one of the many X users who called for a ban on the film. “Won’t tolerate the disrespect of Sanatan Dharma. Ban Maharaj Film. #BoycottNetflix,” Prachi wrote on X.

Another wrote, “The poster for Maharaj shows a tilak-sporting, tuft-bearing man on one side, while there is a sharply dressed young man (Aamir Khan’s son Junaid) As always Anti-Hindu web-series and movies have been shown on Netflix in the past as well (sic).”

One person wrote, “Why was religion introduced into a film made on food a few months ago ?? And now the insult to Hindu saints, how long will this continue? (sic)” The same message was shared by many others as well.

The Gujarat HC has sent notices to Netflix India, Yash Raj films, Ministry of Information and others. The next hearing has been slated for June 18.

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