Maharaj Controversy: BAN Lifts From Junaid Khan’s Debut Movie; Gujarat HC Says The Film Doesn’t ‘Affect Or Hurt Religious Feelings’

Junaid Khan and Jaideep Ahlawat starrer Maharaj was allowed to release on Netflix after Gujarat HC lifted its ban on the film

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Maharaj Controversy: BAN Lifts From Junaid Khan’s Debut Movie; Gujarat HC Says The Film Doesn’t ‘Affect Or Hurt Religious Feelings’
Bollywood actor Aamir Khan’s eldest son Junaid Khan and Jaideep Ahlawat’s much-awaited film Maharaj was released on Netflix on Friday after Gujarat HC lifted its temporary stay. As reported by the Hindustan Times, the court stated that the film, based on the events of the 1862 Maharaj Libel Case, was not hurting or targeting religious sentiments. Earlier set to release on June 13, the film faced a lot of backlash from certain Hindu communities for trying to show saints and sadhu in bad light. It is to be noted that the makers of the film only released an announcement poster, ahead of the film’s release. 

The media publication reports that Justice Sangeeta K Vishen, who had earlier stayed the film’s release, decided to let the film stream on Netflix after watching it. As per the report, the court stated that it arrived at a “prima facie conclusion” that Maharaj is based on the events that led to the filing of the libel case and “is not targeted at hurting the sentiments of the Pushtimargi community.” The Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) considered the relevant guidelines. ALSO READ: Maharaj Controversy: Gujarat High Court Postpones Release Of Junaid Khan's Debut Film; Makers Issued Notice- REPORTS

The release of Khan’s debut film was put on hold after a group of businessmen petitioned that the film had the potential to offend the religious sensibilities of a Vaishnavite community. For those who don’t know, Maharaj is based on Gujarati writer Saurabh Shah’s 2013 book, on the landmark libel case of 1862. Filed by Jadunathji, a Vaishnavite figure against social reformer Karsandas Mulji who has written against sexual exploitation by the all-powerful Maharaj. The exploitative practice’s expose in the magazine The Satyaprakash had led to a libel case. ALSO READ: Junaid Khan’s Debut Film Maharaj In Trouble! Activists Demand Ban For Showing Saints In A Negative Light; Netizens Say, ‘This Needs To STOP’

Stating that the primary grievance of the petitioners that the film defames and insults the Vaishnavite community has “no force,” Justice Vishen further stated, “Thus his court is constrained to come to the conclusion that the apprehension of petitioners is based on surmises. Since the film is yet to be released for public viewing, thus on mere presumption, the freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution cannot be curtailed.”

Dictating the order in open court, she added, “The film in no manner affects or hurts religious feelings. The film concludes that the sect is far more important than any individual or incident. Treating this incident as an exception the Vaishnav sect and its followers continued to grow and remained a proud and integral part of the social, cultural and religious fabric of India. An apprehension is raised that it is likely to cause communal disharmony. However, the book was published in 2013 based on the same libel case and no incident has been reported. Even the petitioners have not made any submission that the book has caused any communal disharmony.”
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