Hashtags ‘Boycott Netflix’, ‘Ban Maharaj Film’ trend ahead of debut of Aamir Khan’s son Junaid


PTI, Jun 14, 2024, 10:56 AM IST

Image credit: Netflix / X

New Delhi: Hashtags like ‘Boycott Netflix’ and ‘Ban Maharaj Film’ trended on social media on Thursday with a section of users calling for a ban on “Maharaj”, claiming the upcoming period drama hurts religious sentiments.

The film, which premieres on Netflix on Friday, marks the debut of Bollywood star Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan. Hashtag “AamirKhan” was also trending on X.

According to the makers, “Maharaj” is set in pre-independent India and is based on the Maharaj Libel Case of 1862, which was ignited by “allegations of misconduct by a prominent figure”.

Directed by Siddharth P Malhotra and produced by Aditya Chopra under YRF Entertainment, the movie also stars Jaideep Ahlawat.

In an unusual move, the movie is releasing on the streamer without any promotions. No teaser or trailers have been put out by the makers for the film, barring a poster featuring Jaideep and Junaid.

They are standing side by side with Ahlawat’s character sporting a ’tilak’ on his forehead while Junaid’s character, reportedly a journalist, is dressed in a waistcoat.

VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi was one of the many X users who called for a ban on “Maharaj”.

“Won’t tolerate the disrespect of Sanatan Dharma (Sanatan Dharma ka apmaan sehen nahin karenge). Ban Maharaj Film. #BoycottNetflix,” Prachi wrote on the microblogging site.

According to a press release issued by Netflix last month, “Maharaj” follows Karsandas Mulji, a journalist and social reformer, who was a pioneering advocate for women’s rights and social reform.

A student at Elphinstone College in Mumbai and a protege of the scholar-leader Dadabhai Naoroji, Mulji wrote on widow remarriage, stood up for the oppressed, and sowed the seeds of reform in society.

“It all came to a head in the Maharaj Libel Case of 1862, which was ignited by allegations of misconduct by a prominent figure, the case garnered widespread attention and scrutiny, setting the stage for what many consider to be one of the most significant legal battles of all time,” the streamer said.

Until when “Hindu saints” will continue to be insulted in films, asked another X user.

Another alleged that Aamir was launching his son in a “Hindumisic movie creating a false image of Sadhus and the Vallabh Sampradaya, by quoting an incident during the British regime (sic)”.

Such content could alienate the Hindu youth from Sanatan Dharma, he said using ‘#BoycottNetflix’ and asked people to demand a ban on “Maharaj”.

“#BoycottNetflix… Can they dare to do films on other communities, No…!!!! They know the consequences. Hindus are still in deep sleeping (sic),” a user wrote.

One of the X users, however, pointed out double standards when it comes to movies on Hinduism and Islam.

“Since the film is ‘Maharaj’… it’s on your gods and goddesses and religion, you are calling for a boycott. When it’s about the other community, there is an attempt to sell as much hate as possible through films,” the user said, referring to controversial movies such as “72 Hoorain” and “Hamare Barah”.

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the June 14 release of Annu Kapoor’s movie “Hamare Baarah” after taking note of allegations that the film is derogatory to the Islamic faith and married Muslim women. The film also underwent a title change (earlier called ‘Hum Do Humare Baraah’) as per a directive by the Central Board of Film Certification.

The boycott calls for “Maharaj” appear to be a recap of what happened with Aamir’s film “Laal Singh Chaddha”.

Many posts calling for a boycott of the 2022 movie recalled an earlier controversy in 2015 when Aamir had said he was alarmed by a number of incidents of growing intolerance in India.

Nayanthara-starrer “Annapoorani” also courted controversy for hurting religious sentiments when it became available on Netflix after its theatrical run. The makers eventually pulled down the film from the streamer and the actor issued an apology on social media.

“Maharaj” also stars Shalini Pandey with Sharvari in a special appearance. The film is part of the multi-year creative partnership between Netflix and Yash Raj Films’ digital arm YRF Entertainment.

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