Gujarat HC halts release of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid’s film Maharaj

Gujarat HC stops release of Junaid Khan’s debut film Maharaj.

Gujarat HC stops release of Junaid Khan’s debut film Maharaj.

Following a petition by devotees of Lord Krishna, the Gujarat High Court issued a stay order on the release of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan’s debut film ‘Maharaj’, citing concerns from followers of the Pushtimarg sect.

The Gujarat High Court has temporarily postponed the release of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan’s debut film ‘Maharaj’ until June 18. Directed by Siddharth P Malhotra and produced by Aditya Chopra, the film was set to premiere on Netflix on June 14. This decision follows a petition by a Hindu group alleging potential violence against followers of a Hindu sect. The court will reconvene for further proceedings on June 18.

The Gujarat High Court issued a stay order on the release of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan’s debut film ‘Maharaj’. This decision came following a petition by devotees of Lord Krishna and followers of the Pushtimarg sect, who claimed that the movie, based on the 1862 Maharaj Libel Case, could incite violence against their sect and Hindu religion, impacting public order. Justice Sangeeta Vishen issued an interim order pausing the release, pending further hearings scheduled for June 18.

Calls for boycott of the period drama “Maharaj” have surged on social media. Hashtags such as ‘Boycott Netflix’, ‘Ban Maharaj Film’, and ‘Aamir Khan’ trended heavily on X ahead of the film’s scheduled premiere on June 14. The film, set in pre-independent India, centers around the Maharaj Libel Case of 1862, sparked by allegations of misconduct against a prominent figure.

The film “Maharaj” is adopting an unconventional approach by releasing on the streaming platform without any promotional materials such as teasers or trailers. The only promotional content released so far is a poster featuring Jaideep and Junaid standing side by side.

Sadhvi Prachi, a prominent leader of the VHP, joined several others on X in demanding a ban on “Maharaj”.
Calls to boycott “Maharaj” have intensified on social media platforms. Sadhvi Prachi, a leader from the VHP, vehemently expressed her stance against the film, declaring, “Won’t tolerate the disrespect of Sanatan Dharma (Sanatan Dharma ka apmaan sehen nahin karenge). Ban Maharaj Film. #BoycottNetflix.” Her sentiments echo a broader sentiment among certain groups who believe the film may misrepresent or offend aspects of Hinduism.

According to a press release by Netflix, “Maharaj” delves into the life of Karsandas Mulji, a notable journalist and advocate for social reform during India’s pre-independent era. Studying at Mumbai’s Elphinstone College under the guidance of Dadabhai Naoroji, Mulji championed causes such as widow remarriage and the rights of the oppressed. His involvement in the Maharaj Libel Case of 1862, sparked by allegations against a prominent figure, serves as the film’s central narrative, depicting a significant legal battle of the time.

The controversy surrounding “Maharaj” has sparked debates on social media platforms. Critics argue that the film may perpetuate negative stereotypes or historical inaccuracies concerning Hindu saints and the Vallabh Sampradaya, potentially alienating Hindu youth from Sanatan Dharma. This sentiment has been expressed through hashtags like ‘#BoycottNetflix’, urging followers to demand a ban on the film.

Users on social media have pointed out perceived double standards in the portrayal of religious sentiments in films. They allege that while films depicting Hinduism often face scrutiny and calls for boycotts, similar critiques are not extended to movies about other religions, such as “72 Hoorain” and “Hamare Barah”. The Supreme Court recently intervened in the release of “Hamare Baarah”, previously titled ‘Hum Do Humare Baraah’, due to allegations of derogatory content towards Islam and married Muslim women.

The boycott movement against “Maharaj” has drawn parallels to past controversies involving Aamir Khan, the father of Junaid Khan, the film’s lead actor. Similar calls for boycott occurred during the release of Aamir’s film “Laal Singh Chaddha” in 2022, recalling an earlier incident in 2015 when Aamir expressed concerns about growing intolerance in India. This historical context has fueled the intensity of the current backlash against “Maharaj”.

“Maharaj” also features actors Shalini Pandey and Sharvari in special appearances. Produced as part of Netflix’s ongoing collaboration with Yash Raj Films’ digital arm YRF Entertainment, the film aims to explore historical narratives with cinematic storytelling.

As the controversy surrounding “Maharaj” continues to unfold, stakeholders are closely monitoring developments, particularly in the context of balancing artistic expression with community sensitivities and maintaining social harmony. The upcoming court hearings and public discourse will likely shape the film’s fate and future narratives in India’s film industry.

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