Gujarat HC allows OTT release of ‘Maharaj’, debut film of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan: What’s the controversy about?

The Gujarat High Court lifted the interim stay on the release of “Maharaj”, observing that the movie is not derogatory and does not target the Pushtimarg sect as alleged.

Livemint
Updated21 Jun 2024, 07:32 PM IST
Maharaj marks the debut of Bollywood star Aamir Khan's son Junaid Khan.
Maharaj marks the debut of Bollywood star Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan.

The Gujarat High Court allowed the the release of "Maharaj" on the Over The Top (OTT) platform Netflix on Friday. It is the debut film of Bollywood star Aamir Khan's son Junaid.

The court lifted the interim stay on the release of “Maharaj”, observing that the movie is not derogatory and does not target the Pushtimarg sect as alleged.

The film starring Junaid Khan, the son of actor Aamir Khan was earlier slated to be released on Netflix on June 18.]

ALSO READ: ’I’m a Muslim but...’: Aamir Khan speaks about the ’power of namaste’ on The Great Indian Kapil Show

What's the controversy about?

The film is based on an 1862 libel case involving a Vaishnavite religious leader and social reformer Karsandas Mulji. The 1862 libel case arose from an article written by Mulji in a Gujarati weekly, alleging that a Vaishnavaite leader had liaisons with his female devotees.

Mulji was a journalist and social reformer, was a pioneering advocate for women's rights and social reform.

According to PTI, some members of the Pushtimarg sect had filed a petition against its release on Netflix. They claimed that the movie hurts religious sentiments.

ALSO READ: Why Aamir Khan’s son Junaid’s debut film ’Maharaj’ not releasing today? Explained

The petitioners also highlighted that the 1862 case, decided by English judges of the Supreme Court of Bombay, "contained severely blasphemous remarks about Hinduism, Lord Krishna and devotional songs and hymns," Bar and Bench reported.

It was further alleged that the film's release was being done secretively, with no trailer or promotional events. "This was done to conceal its storyline," it was alleged.

The petitioners said that despite urgent appeals to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to stop the film's release, they received no response.

On Thursday, June 20, petitioners' lawyer advocate Mihir Joshi argued that Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, which gives the right to freedom of speech and expression, is not a "license to insult" and the law does not protect publishers (such as OTT platforms) only because their creation is based on true events.

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What happened next?

Following the allegations, Yash Raj Films (YRF), producer of "Maharaj", offered to provide the court pre-release access to the film to decide whether it hurts the religious sentiments of any community. The judge has not yet decided whether she would watch the film.

Earlier in June, the high court has ordered an interim stay on the release of the movie on the OTT platform.

On Friday, June 21, single-judge Justice Sangeeta Vishen lifted the interim stay after arriving at a prima facie conclusion that the movie was not targeted at hurting the sentiments of any community.

The judge also noted that the film had already been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), the Bar and Bench reported.

"This court arrives at a prima facie conclusion that film Maharaj is based on events that led to the filing of the (1862) libel case and is not targeted at hurting the sentiments of any community. The film has been certified by CBFC, an expert body, after considering relevant guidelines," the judge was quoted as saying in her order.

(With inputs from agencies)

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First Published:21 Jun 2024, 07:32 PM IST
HomeNewsIndiaGujarat HC allows OTT release of ‘Maharaj’, debut film of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan: What’s the controversy about?

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