Vishwa Hindu Parishad raises objections over Junaid Khan’s debut film Maharaj demands a screening before its release on June 14 on Netflix

Vishwa Hindu Parishad raises objections over Junaid Khan’s debut film Maharaj demands a screening before its release on June 14 on Netflix

Less than a week remains for the release of Maharaj, marking the debut of Aamir Khan’s son, Junaid Khan. However, the film has already sparked controversy, drawing objections from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). Bollywood Hungama has reported that the VHP’s youth wing, Bajrang Dal, has sent letters to the film’s producers, Yash Raj Films, and the streaming platform, Netflix, requesting a pre-screening before its global premiere on June 14.

A letter dated June 3 was personally delivered to Netflix and YRF by Gautam Ravriya, the coordinator for the Konkan region of VHP-Bajrang Dal. The letter expresses concerns that the film’s poster suggests a Hindu religious leader is depicted negatively. The author of the letter believes this portrayal could hurt the sentiments of a section of the audience and potentially lead to a law and order situation.

Towards the end of the letter, Gautam Ravriya insisted that the VHP be shown the film, after which they would decide the future course of action. Ravriya has also shared videos on his Instagram handle, showing him delivering the letter to a Netflix official outside the OTT platform’s office in Mumbai, in the presence of his supporters and police officers. In the video, he informs the Netflix official that if they find anything objectionable in Maharaj, VHP-Bajrang Dal will not allow its release. Another video shows Ravriya and his supporters outside YRF Studios in Mumbai.

Set in 1862, Maharaj is based on the Maharaj Libel Case, a significant legal battle fought between a prominent religious figure and Karsandas Mulji, a journalist and social reformer, in the Supreme Court of Bombay. According to the press statement released by the makers, it was one of the most significant legal battles of all time. Besides Junaid Khan, Maharaj also stars Jaideep Ahlawat and Shalini Pandey, with Sharvari in a cameo. The film is directed by Siddharth P. Malhotra, known for his work on Hichki (2018).

Junaid Khan’s journey to his debut in Maharaj has been marked by perseverance and dedication. After completing a three-year degree in dramatics, Junaid immersed himself in theatre, refining his skills and gaining valuable experience. Since 2017, he has been actively pursuing opportunities in the film industry, balancing his stage work with numerous auditions. Despite facing numerous rejections, including from his father’s home production Laal Singh Chaddha, Junaid’s persistence paid off when the producer of Maharaj stumbled upon one of his previous audition tapes and offered him a chance to audition.

The filming of Maharaj began in February 2021 and wrapped up within eight months. Since then, Junaid has been eagerly waiting for its release. His dedication and hard work were prominently displayed in the recently released poster of the film, which vividly showcases his passion and commitment to his craft.

Amid the excitement surrounding the release, the VHP’s objections have added a layer of tension. The organization’s youth wing, Bajrang Dal, has expressed concerns that the film may offend a section of the audience and could potentially lead to a law and order situation. Gautam Ravriya has insisted that the VHP be granted the opportunity to view the film before its release, following which they will decide on the appropriate course of action.

Maharaj, directed by Siddharth P. Malhotra and produced by Yash Raj Films, also stars Jaideep Ahlawat and Shalini Pandey in prominent roles. Junaid Khan portrays investigative journalist Karsandas Mulji, while Ahlawat takes on the role of a king. Set against the backdrop of the 1862 Maharaja Libel Case, the movie promises an intense battle for truth and courage. Maharaj is scheduled for release on June 14 on Netflix.

Apart from Maharaj, Junaid Khan has been quite occupied with other projects. He has already wrapped up shooting for his second film, which co-stars Sai Pallavi and is filmed against the scenic backdrop of Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival. Additionally, Junaid is currently working on his third movie, a remake of the Tamil romantic comedy Love Today (2022), alongside Khushi Kapoor. Excitingly, he is also stepping into the role of a producer with Pritam Pyaare, a film that will feature an extended guest appearance by his father, Aamir Khan.

As the release date of Maharaj approaches, all eyes are on how the situation with the VHP will unfold. The film’s portrayal of historical events and characters has already stirred controversy, and the response from the audience and critics will be closely watched. Junaid Khan’s debut film promises to be a significant milestone in his career, and the lingering question remains: will all his hard work pay off?

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