Explained: Controversy Over Netflix Film ‘Maharaj’, Starring Aamir Khan’s Son Junaid


The Gujarat High Court has temporarily halted the release of ‘Maharaj‘, a Netflix film starring Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan. The film, directed by Siddharth P Malhotra and produced by Aditya Chopra under YRF Entertainment, was set to release on Friday, June 14.

The decision came after a petition filed by members of the Vaishnavite Pustimargi sect, citing concerns over potential discord and misrepresentation of religious beliefs in the film.

Context: The Maharaj Libel Case of 1862

‘Maharaj’ is based on the historic Maharaj libel case of 1862. A significant legal battle in India’s history, the case challenged religious authority and put focus on the role of journalism in social reform. It involved allegations of misconduct against a prominent spiritual leader, referred to as “Maharaj”, which journalist Karsandas Mulji brought to light through his publication, ‘Satya Prakash’.

The Maharaj libel case was a big win for Karsandas Mulji who exposed wrongdoing in the Vallabhacharya sect. He was praised across India for his courage, and given the nickname of “Luther”, after Martin Luther King, for challenging corruption in religious practices.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, publicly praised Karsandas Mulji for his bravery and dedication to social reform. In a blog post at the time, he acknowledged Mr Mulji’s contributions and highlighted his commitment to truth and justice, reported IANS.


The film’s narrative, centred on the sensitive event, drew objections from followers of the Vaishnavite Pustimargi sect, dedicated to God Shree Krishna, reported news agency PTI. The followers argued that the film could distort their religious practices and provoke animosity. They moved the Gujarat High Court, citing potential violations of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, and self-regulation norms for OTT platforms.

Court’s decision

In response to the petition, the Gujarat High Court decided to stay the release of ‘Maharaj‘, pending further hearings. The court focused on the need to balance artistic expression with communal harmony and address concerns about potential religious sensitivities.

The controversy sparked debates on social media, with hashtags like ‘BoycottNetflix’ trending among users who are not happy with the content of the film. Legal experts have talked about the ongoing tensions between freedom of expression and respect for religious beliefs in Indian society.

 The Gujarat High Court has temporarily halted the release of ‘Maharaj’, a Netflix film starring Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan.    

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