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Maharaj Movie Review; Junaid Khan Makes A Promising Debut

Maharaj Movie Review; Junaid Khan Makes A Promising Debut

Rating: 3.5/5

Cast: Junaid Khan, Jaideep Ahlawat, Shalini Pandey, Sharvari Wagh

Director: Siddharth P Malhotra

Runtime: 2h 11m


Junaid Khan’s debut film is based on an intriguing true story – the 1862 Maharaj Libel Case. Junaid stars as the fiery journalist Karsandas Mulji locking horns with the exploitative religious leader Jadunathjee Brajratanjee Maharaj, played by Jaideep Ahlawat.

Karsandas Mulji is horrified to see his betrothed Kishori (Shalini Pandey) take part in a sexually exploitative ritual with Maharaj under the name of religion. Breaking off his engagement, the social reformer comes forward, boldly challenging Maharaj’s malpractices with a fiercely-worded article in the newspaper.

Sensing that the boy can be trouble, Maharaj slaps him with an expensive defamation case. What follows is an intense legal battle that creates history.

Maharaj Movie Review:

Junaid Khan Debut, Maharaj Movie Review

Junaid Khan makes a promising debut with Maharaj. The story is the real winner here – a well-written social reform drama, exposing the sordid underbelly of religion.

Siddharth P Malhotra tackles the subject with sensitivity and grace, without any undue exaggerations or malice. The 1st half is rather slowburn and the momentum is further bogged down by dance and song.

But Maharaj properly hits its stride as it enters the 2nd half with the intense courtroom drama. While he is initially rather visibly awkward and lacklustre, Junaid Khan comes into his own, getting familiar with the camera as the film progresses. His stiltedness in the 1st half gives way to a mature portrayal full of gravitas in the latter half.

Maharaj Movie Review:

Junaid shines in the 2nd half as the spirited journalist, playing it with restraint yet intensity. He holds his own against a seasoned actor like Jaideep Ahlawat in a peak confrontation scene. While uneven, Junaid shows potential and screen presence with his 1st role.

Shalini Pandey delivers a natural and emotionally compelling performance as Kishori and propels the story forward. Jaideep Ahlawat is dependable as always, playing Maharaj with smugness and pomp. However, after a while the performance feels one-note and one wishes for little variation from an actor of his calibre.

Sharvari enters the film in the 2nd half in a quirky, special appearance, infusing some light-heartedness in the otherwise serious drama.

(Also Read: 7 Bollywood Movies In June 2024 – Chandu Champion, Maharaj, Kalki & More)

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