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Rediff.com  » News » Guj HC lifts stay on release of Aamir Khan's son's debut film 'Maharaj'

Guj HC lifts stay on release of Aamir Khan's son's debut film 'Maharaj'

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Senjo M R
June 21, 2024 21:04 IST
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The Gujarat high court on Friday lifted its stay to the release of Maharaj, debut film of Bollywood star Aamir Khan's son Junaid, observing that it did not target the Vaishnav Pushtimarg sect as alleged by its members.

IMAGE: A view of Aamir Khan's son Junaid's debut film 'Maharaj'. Photograph: Courtesy Netflix India/Instagram

The film has nothing objectionable or derogatory, the court said after watching it, and allowed its release on streaming platform Netflix.

 

Some members of the Pushtimarg sect had filed a petition against its release, claiming that the film hurt religious sentiments.

The film, produced by Yash Raj Films, is based on an 1862 libel case which was centred on a clash between a Vaishnavite religious leader and social reformer Karsandas Mulji.

Mulji, in an article published in a Gujarati weekly, had alleged that the godman had sexual relations with his female devotees, leading to the case for defamation which the social reformer won.

Justice Sangeeta Vishen of the Gujarat High Court, who had granted an interim stay to the film on June 13, a day before its scheduled release, watched the film on Thursday before passing the order.

Allowing the film's release on Friday, Justice Vishen refused to stay her order as requested by the Pushtimarg sect's lawyer Mihir Joshi, and said that YRF and Netflix "are at liberty to release the movie".

The judge, in her order, noted that the film has already been certified by Central Board of Film Certification.

"Having viewed the film, this court found nothing objectionable that would hurt religious feelings of petitioners or a sect. The core message of the film revolves around social evil and the fight against it by social reformer Karasandas Mulji, who was also from a Vaishnavite community," the judge said while reading out the order in the court.

The film ends with a note praising the Vaishnav community, and the devotional verse Govind Stotram is also recited in the film, she noted.

The book authored by Saurabh Shah on which the film is based was published way back in January 2013, Justice Vishen said, adding that it was based on a true story.

As to the petitioners' argument that the content of the film was "incendiary" and likely to incite hatred and violence against the Pushtimarg sect, the judge noted that when the book came out 11 years ago, no incident of violence was recorded.

"The apprehension that the movie is derogatory and runs down a religion is based on surmises. The freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution can not be curtailed," said Justice Vishen.

"Maharaj is based on events which led to the libel case, and it is not targeted to hurt sentiments of Pushtimarg sect. The film has been certified by CBFC and an expert body after considering the relevant aspects," the court observed.

During the hearing, the petitioners' lawyer had argued that the British-era court which decided the 1862 case "castigated the Hindu religion" and made blasphemous comments against Lord Krishna as well as certain devotional songs and hymns.

The petitioners had approached the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, requesting it to take steps to stop the release, but there was no response, advocate Joshi said.

He also 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.

Appearing for Netflix, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi argued that the petitioners' prayer to set aside the film's censorship certificate was misconceived, as such certification is not required for a release on OTT platform.

One of the petitioners, a "prominent businessman of Ahmedabad", did not take any steps against the book on which the film is based or material available on the internet, Rohatgi said.

The film is based on legal history which cannot be eradicated, he argued.

The YRF counsel told the court that the part of the libel case ruling to which the petitioners objected was not included in the screenplay.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Senjo M R© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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