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FILM REVIEW: Maharaj

Law vs l usty godman Cast: introducing Junaid Khan, Jaideep Ahlawat, Shalini Pandey, Sharvari (spl app) Rating: 3* OTT: Netflix Dire...


Law vs lusty godman

Cast: introducing Junaid Khan, Jaideep Ahlawat, Shalini Pandey, Sharvari (spl app)

Rating: 3*

OTT: Netflix

Director Siddharth P Malhotra adapts this powerful, liberal & revolutionary story by Saurabh Shah which is based on his book of the same name. Malhotra engages you from the first scene and yet keeps it simple. The sensitive plot and the protests and legal issues are sure to enhance the viewership. The exploitation shown in the name of religion is not over the top and he makes sure that no religion is targeted. But yes, you might be tempted to draw parallels with earlier films like PK, OMG, and especially the hit web series Ashram. But despite the controversial subject, Malhotra keeps you hooked and hits you hard.

This true story is based in the year 1862 in Bombay. Most of them are followers of Jadunathji / JJ (a brilliant underplaying Jaideep Ahlawat). Karsan Das Mulji (Junaid Khan in a fine debut), a social reformer stays with his father Mulji bhai (Sandeep Mehta) and his mama and mami. He also works with other social reformer and revolutionary Dadabhai Naoroji. Despite being religious, Karsan doesn’t believe in blind faith but his fiancĂ©e Kishori (a sweet & adorable Shalini Pandey with limited screen time) and her family are blind followers of JJ who is also a priest (Maharaj) of the biggest ‘haveli’ (temple) in Bombay. Kishori is selected by JJ for a customary ceremony known as ‘Charan Sparsh’ during which the priest will sleep with an unmarried woman. Karsandas is shocked to see Kishori in a compromising position with JJ and breaks off the engagement with Kishori. Later when Kishori finds out the truth about JJ, she repents for not listening to Karsan and commits suicide. It is then, that he takes up a crusade against the practice and exploitation of women by JJ. But the Maharaj is out to crush him. It is law vs religion. 

Sharvani as Viraj is wonderful and provides the much-needed relief in the film with her spunk. She is credited in a special appearance but has more screen time than the heroine Shalini Pandey. 

The film holds your attention right from the word go. Plus Aamir Khan’s son Junaid makes a conscious effort and has tried hard but needs more polish. But it is a must-watch for Jaideep Ahlawat’s performance. He steals the show with his stellar performance in the titular role. Despite being controversial the film also makes an important comment regarding faith and godmen. 

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