(Crisp) Movie Review: MAHARAJ by FENIL SETA

Maharaj, which has released today on Netflix, is based on the true story of a reformer who takes on a powerful priest when the latter misuses his position. It is produced by Yash Raj Films and marks the debut of Aamir Khan‘s son, Junaid. The film was about to release on June 14 but was stayed by the Gujarat High Court on the grounds that it might hurt religious sentiments. Today, the film was cleared for release. At the very onset, it is clear that the film is not against any sect or community. The protagonist is progressive and also very religious and he raises his voice against malpractice, not on anyone’s faith. The film moves at a great pace in the first half and keeps the interest going. The film then dips in the middle. Also, the courtroom drama commences very late in the film. The finale, thankfully, is worth it. Junaid Khan is a bit raw and doesn’t have the conventional hero looks. But he makes up for it with his acting talent. Jaideep Ahlawat is terrific as the priest and the way his character prefers to smile instead of raising his voice and temper is terrific. Shalini Pandey is lovely and an actor to watch out for. Sharvari has been credited under ‘Special appearance’ though she has a crucial role. She is in great form and also adds to the film’s humour quotient. Jay Upadhyay (Giridhar Khawas), Sneha Desai (Bhabhu) Kamlesh Oza (Shaam ji), Priyal Gor (Leelavati), Sandeep Mehta (Mulji bhai; Karsan’s father), Utkarsh Mazumdar (Lalvanji Maharaj), Jamie Alter (defence lawyer) and Vaibhav Tatwawadi (Dr Bhau Daji Lad) are fair. Sanjay Goradia (Nanubhai) is adorable. Sohail Sen‘s music is lovely, especially the foot-tapping song ‘Holi Ke Rang Maa’ and the soulful ‘Achyutam Keshavam’, sung by Sonu Nigam. All in all, Maharaj is worth watching for the plot, message and powerful moments.

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