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Maharaj Movie Review: Melodramatic slow tale of meek against powerful; while Junaid Khan debuts, Jaideep Ahlawat cornerstones

Aamir Khan's son Junaid Khan's debut film Maharaj has been released on Netflix. Directed by Siddharth P Malhotra, the film features Jaideep Ahlawat, Sharvari, and Shalini Pandey in lead roles. Scroll down to read the movie review.

Sakshi Verma Updated on: July 01, 2024 17:34 IST
Maharaj
Read Maharaj Movie Review herePhoto:NETFLIX
  • Movie Name:Maharaj
  • Critics Rating: 3 / 5
  • Release Date: June 21, 2024
  • Director: Siddharth P Malhotra
  • Genre: Drama

Maharaj Movie Review: Aamir Khan's elder son Junaid Khan has marked his acting debut with Siddharth P Malhotra's film Maharaj which has been released on Netflix after winning a legal battle, much similar to the film's plot. The story of this film is based on Saurabh Shah's book Maharaj according to the film's disclaimer but the same disclaimer also says that the film does not claim any authenticity or correctness of any events. Well, that's the time we live in, unfortunately. However, all this also didn't seem to help the makers as they had to really get a clean chit from the Gujarat HC for a film that in any way does not hurt religious sentiments. Maharaj is based on the Maharaj Libel Case of 1862, where Junaid Khan plays the real-life character of Karsandas Mulji and Jaideep Ahlawat plays Jadunathji Brijratanji Maharaj, one of the heads of the Vallabhacharya sect. Where Shalini Pandey plays the role of a naive Kishori, Sharvari Wagh on the contrary has a rather chullbuli but strong headed girl's role to play.  

Story

The story of Maharaj literally begins with the birth of Karsandas (Junaid Khan). The filmmaker should be credited for having a 5-8 minute segment in the film to portray the young curious lad who has lots to ask. This adds up to the courageous personality of the protagonist and helps the audience to understand his mindset better. After spending his childhood in his village, Karsandas then relocates to Bombay after the death of his mother, at the age of ten. We are then brought to the young age timeline of Junaid Khan, where the actor can be seen wearing traditional formals, dhoti kurtas and speaking in fluent Gujarati. He also has a fiancée named Kishori, who is seen completing her studies only after Karsandas' suggestion. Both are set to marry after her completion of studies but things don't go as planned. Madly in love- Karsandas breaks off her marriage after he sees his fiancée falling into the traps of religious guru Jadunath Maharaj, popularly called JJ. All of their lives go upside down when Karsandas takes a difficult road, fights a legal battle against the powerful, and sets an example for ages to remember. 

Direction

Siddharth P Malhotra has chosen a strangely difficult story because here no girl is being cheated in the name of religion and superstition. She is the one who is unaware of her rights and is naively not able to differentiate between right and wrong. But the admass is here and so are our social heroes who make this world a better place. However, only if the filmmaker made the story crisp, Maharaj would have been more effective. The lacking part of this film lies in its execution. Maharaj is slow, dull at places and melodramatic to the core. What goes in the favour of this film is its production design, dialogue writing, and music. Production designers Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray have done a fine job. They take the audience back to the pre-independence era smoothly and never lack in execution. Writers Sneha Desai and Vipul Mehta also deserve applause because of some clap-worthy dialogues. Lines like 'Sawal na pooche wo bhaqt adhura hai aur jo jawaab na de sake wo dharam adhura hai.' Or 'Dharam se jyada hinsak waise bhi koi yudh nahin hai.' Even 'Religious beliefs are intensely private, personal and sacred,' are very impactful and makes you want to cheer for the characters. However, the screenplay does seem stretched at points and being an OTT release, the forward button comes into use. 

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Acting 

At first glance, Junaid Khan seems as fine as Karsandas. The debutant seems to have worked well on his expressions and has gone deep into the character. However, somewhere the feeling of theater dominates in his dialogue delivery, moreover his lack of dancing skills were also evident in the song 'Holi Ke Rang Ma'. The actor also puts up a good fight against Jaideep. But the OG is the OG after all. Jaideep Ahlawat is the one who truly owns the film. The actor has less dialogue than his counterpart but he's the one who dominates. Those facial expressions, walking style, and dialogue delivery, everything goes with the tonality of the film. Shalini Pandey can remind you of Arjun Reddy as she can be again seen in the role of a credulous lover girl with no opinion. However, the flow of the film definitely breaks due to Sharvari Wagh. Her dialogue delivery is too quick to catch and the bubbliness does not go well with the film. But the actor does get to do both, serious and non-serious parts in the film, which she does justice to. 

Verdict

Junaid Khan has tried well in his debut film and the actor also seems promising to improve in the upcoming ones. While Jaideep Ahlawat steals the show, others also deserve a glance. Maharaj is not just a film that talks about a real-life incident but also speaks volumes about the society that one wants to be a part of. If you are a fan of courtroom drama you will be a bit disappointed but Maharaj has a strong story to tell. The subject is good and also very relevant. Maharaj is out on Netflix and is worth watching once.

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