Maharaj (2024) Movie Script

There, there, it's okay.
There, there, it's okay.
It's okay, it's fine.
In 1832, in the village of Vadaal
in Gujarat,
a boy was born into
Mulji Jivraj's orthodox Vaishnav family.
He is the spitting image
of his grandfather.
Then let's name him after his grandfather.
Karsan. Karsandas.
Karsan probably objected to the name
"das", or serf, from the beginning,
and he showed his displeasure immediately.
See? There he goes again. Your son
cannot stay still for even ten minutes.
My son is not one of those
who can be held back.
Is that so, child?
As Karsan grew,
his questions increased in number.
Why do you hurl grain into the fire?
So that it reaches our divine lord.
Does the fire know his address?
Look at this.
Mother, why do we go
to the temple every day?
Not "temple", Karsan. It's "Haveli".
How many times have I told you?
Aunt, whose statue is that
next to our god's?
That's the statue
of the founder of our sect.
On the other side is our god's sister.
If your mind is constantly
spewing questions, how will you pray?
Come on now, join your hands.
Lord, please look after my Karsan.
Can he understand the Gujarati language?
- Is he from our village? Tell me, please.
- Karsan, you talk too much.
Father, why do Mother and Aunt
keep their faces covered?
So others don't cast an evil eye
on them, that's why.
Watch your step.
Father, what's the use of that
if it doesn't let them use their own eyes?
This curious, cheeky Karsan
was forced to grow up before his time
when he lost his mother at the age of ten.
His father remarried
and his maternal uncle
uprooted the young child
and moved him to the city.
a city built on seven islands,
which a British king received as dowry.
The king leased it out
to the East India Company
for an annual rent of 10.
Even at that time,
Bombay was more a concept than a city.
A busy port, which became a hub
for Gujarati Vaishnav cotton traders.
At that time,
Bombay had seven Vaishnav Havelis.
In the centre of the Kalbadevi district
stood the Grand Haveli.
The overlords were the British
but JJ was the most revered.
JJ, the head priest, or Maharaj,
of the Haveli.
Close to this Grand Haveli
was the home of Karsan's uncle,
where Karsan was planted anew.
Karsan was raised with his aunt's love
and according to orthodox
Vaishnavite traditions.
Soon enough,
Karsan became a part of Bombay,
and Bombay, a part of Karsan.
Untouchable approaching. Stand clear.
May I have some chutney?
The stall's too crowded.
Will you share some?
You'll be polluted. I'm an untouchable.
I just asked for some chutney,
not about your caste.
Karsan's revolutionary thinking
was inspired by social reformers
like Dadabhai Naoroji.
- Karsan, my boy, come in.
- Good morning.
Karsan would often write
for his newspaper, Rast Goftar.
People soon began noticing this fresh,
new voice that questioned social evils.
Not just the common man,
but even seasoned social activists
fighting for freedom
and progressive reform
like Mr Gokuldas Tejpal
and Sohrab-ji Ardeshir
began reading his articles.
Being a widow is neither a crime...
WIDOW REMARRIAGE MOVEMEN...nor a disease, that we should
cast them out of society.
Isn't it tragic enough
that someone lost their life partner?
People started attending Karsan's meetings
and these two
started participating in them too.
What is this?
Happy Holi, Aunt.
Bless you. I wish you the same.
If I had my way, I'd drench you in colour.
Yes, but you can't have your way.
I will, Aunt.
One day, all this will change.
One day, every widow...
You and your reformist ways.
First, go and dab some colour
on the one you're actually thinking of.
You've waited many years
since the engagement
and made her wait too.
You'll be married in a few days.
You'll see then, things will change.
Why would marriage change anything?
Flowing, carefree tresses
are tamed by a veil, my child.
Forget all that and go.
How do I look?
Greetings, Mukhiya-ji.
No colour on you yet?
Our god must be bathed in colour first.
Then we can all be bathed too.
I don't understand.
Remove your hand and then you will, right?
Until JJ bathes our god in colour,
we aren't allowed to celebrate Holi.
Where is that written?
You always want proof.
I bet you'd like to look for a divine
signature in the sacred scriptures too.
Your faith is flawed.
So is your love.
I am your fianc.
As such, I have the right
to put colour on you first.
I said no already, didn't I?
The Maharaj is more important
than a fianc
and religion comes before love.
I'll be cursed.
What if I'm born colourblind
in my next life?
Do you think that's possible?
Absolutely. JJ said so in a sermon.
"JJ said." And if JJ says so,
it must be right, yes?
Yes. His words are set in stone.
He is our god's descendant.
That's why he's called "JJ".
He never lies.
We all have a direct connection
to our god, Kishori.
We don't need JJ to intervene for us.
If you get enamoured by the means,
how will you reach the destination?
Tell me.
There you go, talking in riddles again.
Okay, never mind.
I won't question your faith
and you won't question
my philosophy. Happy?
Happy now?
We're getting married in a few days.
Surely, I have the right now?
- Kishori!
- Aunt.
JJ is coming!
JJ is coming.
Kishori, hang on a moment!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- All hail our divine lord!
- Hail!
- All hail the sect founder!
- Hail!
All hail our divine lord!
All hail the beloved one!
O beloved
Today brings new colour
I will do the teasing today
From the depths of my heart
I'll cover you with colour
I will hold your arms tightly today
How will you then run away?
My colours will never wash away
Listen to the drums play
To the colours of Holi
Dhin tana, dhin tana, dhin tana na
Listen to the drums play
To the colours of Holi
Dhin tana, dhin tana, dhin tana na
Listen to the drums play
To the colours of Holi
Yes, they play
Listen to the drums play
To the colours of Holi
Dhin tana, dhin tana, dhin tana na
Listen to the drums play
To the colours of Holi
Dhin tana, dhin tana, dhin tana na
I have dipped my clothes in your hues
I see the colourful world
Through your eyes
I have coloured my clothes in your hues
I see the colourful world
Through your eyes
Mixed colours come alive in youth
I see the colourful world
Through your eyes
I took my colours and showered them on you
I changed tradition today
I will do the teasing
And I will do the appeasing
You will swear by me today
Just say the word
And I'm ready to be yours
How can I take offence on the day of Holi?
May your colours never fade
Listen to the drums play
To the colours of Holi
Dhin tana, dhin tana, dhin tana na
Listen to the drums play
To the colours of Holi
Yes, they play
The colours of Holi fly
The cord that ties my blouse comes undone
As my chest swells with pride
When you spray me with colour
I lose all control
Consume me whole
Being apart from you is unbearable
In your embrace, I feel an ecstasy
That is beyond measure
That is beyond measure
Listen to the drums play
To the colours of Holi
Dhin tana, dhin tana, dhin tana na
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail the sect founder!
- All hail our divine lord!
- Hail!
All hail the beloved one!
Out of all the girls present,
you were the one selected
to perform the divine service.
I feel like I've attained salvation, Aunt.
Tell Mother to cook some laapsi
to celebrate.
- Greetings.
- Greetings.
Go on, child.
- Glory to our god.
- Yes.
Have you seen Kishori?
Where is she?
You should not touch the feet
when performing this divine service.
What's your name?
- Greetings.
- Greetings.
Devi, where's your older sister?
Karsan-bhai, don't you know?
JJ has chosen my sister
for the divine service.
They'll surely cook laapsi at home today.
- Giridhar Khawas?
- Yes.
May we witness the divine service?
It'll cost 11 rupees.
Here you go.
Watch quietly through the window.
And listen. I can see your boy
has just about reached puberty.
Make sure he doesn't scream
with excitement during the ritual.
Okay, fine. Come on, hurry up.
Hold on, mister. The divine service is
in progress inside. Please leave.
But my fiance is in there.
Your fiance?
I'm sorry.
Then you must definitely witness it.
Up there, from the window. Go on.
Yes, go straight upstairs.
You'll be cursed for obstructing
the divine service!
You'll be reborn as a dog.
Our pilgrimage is incomplete
because of him.
Get out of here! Right now! Get out!
What were you doing
in the name of faith, Kishori?
I didn't expect this from you.
Let's go home.
Kishori, let's go home!
Lower your voice.
This is not just a service,
it's a tradition.
You're confusing an act of faith
with an intimate act.
Never mind.
you can go if you want.
You go ahead. I'll come later.
Did you hear that?
She'll come home soon. Don't worry.
Anyway, leftovers
are considered offerings.
We don't keep them.
We give them away.
Leftovers in any form don't suit me.
Neither food...
nor soiled honour.
Why didn't you attend the morning prayers?
Won't you talk to me?
I was only doing my duty.
Only the fortunate
are blessed with such luck.
Your silence is hurting me...
What should I say?
That that fraud is exploiting you?
You need wisdom, not religion,
to know right from wrong, Kishori.
And yesterday, it was proven
that you don't have any.
I waited for four years
so that you could study.
Gain knowledge.
Is this what you learnt?
Is this what you call faith?
Religious service?
You said you wouldn't question...
But I can question blind faith!
You went to school,
but you learnt nothing.
Why didn't you say no to your aunt?
Why did you let JJ touch you?
He called you his leftovers.
How can you feel proud
about that, Kishori?
We were engaged
but you still hesitated to take my hand.
But with that man...
- I had no choice.
- Yes, you did.
And you went willingly and happily.
If the door is locked
and the key is in one's hand,
but one still remains a prisoner,
then the captivity is one's own choice.
You were not helpless.
You were following tradition,
not religion.
Why are you so angry?
What crime have I committed?
I'm neither the first
nor the last to do that.
If your mother were alive,
she'd happily send your sister...
Father will pay the fine
to the village council
and break our engagement.
Our relationship is over.
He broke off the engagement, JJ.
Ignorant fools, all of them.
Whatever happens, happens for the best.
It is the will of our god.
These tears have made your virtues
even brighter.
From today, you're my favourite.
Would you like to live as JJ's favourite?
Where is JJ?
He has gone for evening prayers.
JJ's favourite.
There are three kinds of service.
Surrendering your heart to our god,
meaning spiritual service,
surrendering your wealth to his mission,
meaning material service,
and surrendering your body to our god,
meaning physical service.
Do you want to be JJ's favourite?
Devi, what are you doing? Get out of here.
- Sister...
- I said get out!
She's my sister.
You exploit women in the name of faith.
You make us feel special for a few moments
so you can exploit our devotion.
You use us like we're nothing
but a change of flavour.
I considered you a god.
You've turned out to be
just an ordinary man.
A dirty liar.
It's not my heart you've broken,
but my belief.
You've fallen in my eyes, JJ.
You have fallen,
and so have I.
I've seen through
My guru's deceptions
Girls, I urge you to never go
To the Seva
Young buds are exploited
Enticed by offerings and sweets
Women, their honour you tainted
Mother, Aunt, or anyone acquainted
I urge you to never go
To the Seva
From now on, if I see you at the back door
of the Haveli, I'll break your legs!
Why are you so angry?
Yesterday, we were celebrating.
Why are we grieving today?
Are you jealous?
Sister, what's wrong?
I made a terrible mistake.
I surrendered to JJ
something that was Karsan's by right.
Hoping for heaven in the next life,
I chose hell in this lifetime.
What have I done, Devi?
What have I done?
Karsan broke off our engagement today.
Have you told our parents?
Then win him back please, sister.
How can I face him to win him back?
I used to see love in his eyes.
Now, for the first time, I see disgust.
My remorse pales
in the face of his principles.
I have lost Karsan.
I have lost him forever.
Mother always ties a knot in her scarf
and prays for the return of lost things.
Until you win back Karsan
and his forgiveness,
this knot will remain tied.
Are you the only sensible man, Karsan?
Are we all stupid?
The way you parade yourself
as a social reformer,
have you ever thought about
how much suffering it causes your family?
How will Kishori and her father,
Pranjiivan-bhai, face the community?
What crime did she commit?
Many girls serve at the Haveli.
Your aunt did too.
You should not feel pride in this.
You should be ashamed, Uncle. Your mistake
can't be held up as an example.
I should be ashamed? Really?
Women's education, banning the veil,
widow remarriage and whatnot.
I'm horrified that these atrocious ideas
even entered your head.
And I'm horrified that these ideas
have never entered yours!
The world of thinkers and the way the
world thinks are vastly different indeed.
All these years,
Aunt has lived in this house
always dressed in these white robes.
Don't you see that her life
is deprived of colour?
She can't even join us in our festivals.
Why are you unmoved
by her silent sorrow at our festivals?
What about her wants, her needs,
and her physical desires?
If only you had gotten her remarried
years ago...
That's enough, Karsan! Enough!
Just agree to get married to Kishori.
Now, I will never do that.
- You...
- Karsan, leave the house.
Get out of this house.
Why is such a great reformer, orator,
and scholar lying here?
Because he is a great reformer,
orator, and scholar.
That's why he's lying here.
Karsandas, why are you lying here?
Because my own home
no longer has a place for my ideas.
Is there a place
for those who belong nowhere?
Who is...
People have been talking a lot
about him in the Haveli.
He's an atheist.
His faith must have been hurt.
Otherwise, why would one
become an atheist?
I have to meet JJ.
Let me go. I said let me go!
What is all that ruckus?
Shaam-ji and his sister, Leelavati,
are here, JJ.
Who's this Shaam-ji?
From the divine service
on the Dwarka tour...
Calamity has befallen us, JJ.
What you did to my sister in Dwarka...
My sister is pregnant.
Your child is in her womb.
Redeem my sister's honour, JJ. Please.
Compose yourself. Calm down.
I know some doctors at a hospital.
Take Leelavati there.
They'll abort the child.
Where are you going? Stop, JJ.
Why should my sister lose her child?
Why did you do this to her, JJ?
No, Leelavati, don't touch the feet
of this unworthy man.
Forgive us, JJ. Mercy.
This is your child, JJ.
I won't abort it.
I told you, I'm here for you.
I'll fix everything.
- No, Leelavati, don't eat it. Don't!
- Eat.
No, don't eat it, Leelavati.
No, Leelavati!
Eat it.
Leelavati, why did you eat it?
Why did you do it, Leelavati?
Somebody, help us! Please, someone!
Hey, mister! Listen!
What happened? Who are you?
It's my sister. She's pregnant.
JJ fed her a laddoo spiked with something.
Save us from JJ, please.
I'll take you to a clinic.
- I'll be right back!
- Don't worry, okay?
Open the doors!
Open up!
Lalvan-ji Maharaj, did you see
a man and a woman?
They were at the Haveli's back door...
Many such people have been
swallowed up by the Haveli, Karsandas.
It has become a man-eater.
It preys on the very ones
it should protect.
If you know this, then why don't you
and the other priests do something?
We were blinded
by Jadunath Maharaj's aura.
Thanks to him, the Haveli prospered.
Our sect spread
to all corners of the country.
Hundreds of thousands embraced our creed.
He's become the face of the Haveli.
Now, JJ has become so powerful
that we have no choice
but to remain silent.
What we cannot do from inside the Haveli...
you should do from the outside, Karsandas.
You already write about social evils.
Now, write about this too.
I'm just an ordinary devotee,
Lalvan-ji Maharaj.
When you cannot raise questions,
how can I?
He who does not raise questions
is a deficient devotee.
And a religion that cannot answer
questions is a deficient one.
If you are denied your rights,
then fight for them.
I'm not a warrior.
If you aren't part
of the fighting caste by birth,
then become a fighter
through your actions.
There is no battle more violent
than religion.
It's important
to bring this to light, Naoroji-bhai.
What's going on in the Haveli is illegal.
It's not that simple, Karsan.
If Lalvan-ji Maharaj cannot speak up,
then how tough will it be
for you and me to take a stand?
Don't waste time on petty issues.
Our task is to clean up the country.
Focus on that.
If everyone sets about cleaning up
the country, who will clean the home?
All right, let's start with that.
Kishori came by earlier.
Have you broken off the engagement?
She told me the reason.
What you did was both right and wrong.
Karsan, there are three stages
in social reform.
Firstly, make a person understand
the error of their ways.
Secondly, make a person
correct their mistakes.
And thirdly, reintegrate the person
back into society.
You showed Kishori the error of her ways
but you didn't give her
the chance to reform herself.
Her reform should have been
initiated by you.
You are right, Naoroji-bhai.
- I will meet Kishori today itself...
- Karsan! Come quick!
Karsan, don't irritate me.
Let me study. Tomorrow is my exam.
You do your work. I'll do mine.
Why did you force me to study?
Finish your studies
so that we can get married quickly.
I don't have any more patience.
Are you really so keen to be together?
There's no one but you
who I can call my own, Kishori.
You are my friend, my lover,
and my family too.
Oh dear! If I were to vanish,
you'd lose everything all at once.
Just you try to do it.
I'll break your legs.
- Do you love me?
- More than you know.
If I were to lose you,
this Karsan would not be Karsan anymore.
I never imagined I'd have to bid farewell
to my daughter like this, Mulji-bhai.
I found this in my sister's cupboard.
"I had become blind
to the extent that
I could not tell the difference
between a man and a god."
"Now that my eyes have been opened,
I find I'm unworthy
of looking you in the eye."
"What I couldn't do in life,
I offer to you in death."
"The proof of my repentance."
"Maybe now you will believe
how ashamed I was."
"I couldn't become your wife
but make me the motive for your battle."
"Ensure you expose JJ's true face
to the world, Karsan."
"Only that will bring peace to my soul."
Jadunath Maharaj!
Congratulations, JJ!
Another woman has been sacrificed
at the threshold of this Haveli!
Kishori's death saddens me.
Kishori's death was not a suicide.
It was murder.
You are her murderer!
How would you feel
if your wife and daughter had to
perform divine service?
How dare you speak this way
about the women in my family?
Why do you get upset when I speak of them?
Why does it not bother you when you
strip away the honour of other women?
Our god washes away sin.
He does not sow it, JJ.
Whether anyone speaks or not,
I will speak, I will question,
and I will publish articles against you.
Today's newspaper
is tomorrow's garbage, Karsandas.
Only religion is eternal.
You don't realise the power of words.
Nor you the power of religion.
Have you considered what will happen
when your devotees discover that
their god has already left this Haveli?
I am here in his place!
I, Maharaj Jadunath,
am the lord of our clan!
And you?
You are Karsan "das".
Just a serf in the service of our lord.
Our names define our deeds.
These names are an endowment, JJ,
given to us by our parents and by society.
Our names do not define our actions.
Our actions create our names.
Now, this serf who serves our lord
will fight against the Haveli
for the sake of the Haveli!
Not against religion,
but against those who exploit it.
Begone, fool!
Look at the disparity between us.
I am so powerful that no mere Karsan
can even touch me.
I will get you through your own devotees.
I promise you that.
Now, I'll write against you.
I will identify you by name and expose you
and your actions vociferously.
I have already lost
that which was dear to me.
Now, I'll ensure that
your honour is ruined.
Even if I go down, JJ,
I'll take you down with me.
This article cannot be printed
in the Rast Goftar, Karsan.
It's a direct attack on the Haveli and JJ.
The Rast Goftar enjoys a wide circulation
among the Vaishnavites.
Devotees will not tolerate
such accusations against the Maharaj.
Why encourage me to write
when you won't print it?
We have printed
so many of your articles, Karsan.
Go ahead and write against rituals
without using names.
Am I stopping you?
It's important that I write, I know.
But it's more important
that people read it.
Maybe this is the right time
to launch my own newspaper.
Not a bad idea.
"Never hesitate to raise questions."
"With all my blessings, your aunt."
Tomorrow, when this is printed
and people read it, Devi,
the truth about JJ will be exposed.
One minute. I'll be right back.
I promised my sister
that I wouldn't unravel the knot
until you forgave her.
Don't untie it just yet.
The fight has just begun.
The day JJ is punished for his misdeeds
will be the day
Kishori's death is truly vindicated.
Here. Keep this.
Nanu-bhai, be careful.
Don't worry, Karsan-bhai.
I may be short in name and size,
but I have always
shot my arrows at big targets.
You know what? I'll take a secret route.
No one will find out.
Come on, take this alley up ahead.
Yes, this alley.
Don't make a sound.
There won't be a single copy left
to distribute to the public tomorrow, JJ.
What's going on here, Jadunath-ji?
"True Hinduism
and Current Fraudulent Practices."
"The Truth Behind Jadunath Maharaj."
You can burn newspapers,
but not the truth.
Apologise to him
before the matter gets out of hand.
Otherwise, those who worship you today
will question you tomorrow.
Today, the Haveli doors
will be closed to all devotees
from morning prayers to evening, all day.
Khawas, convey this order
to every Haveli in the city at once.
Very well.
You know that devotees do not break their
fast before completing morning prayers.
Now, the hunger of the devotees
will force him to apologise.
Once he begs for forgiveness
with folded hands,
the doors will open again.
Until then, our lord will sit in protest
and the Haveli will be on strike.
"Attention, all devotees."
"Until Karsandas Mulji apologises
for offending the Haveli and the sect,
entry to the Haveli will be shut for all."
"There will be no audiences
and no prayers."
- Open the door!
- Open the door!
Somebody call Karsandas!
- Open the door!
- Open the door!
Speak of the devil and the devil appears!
He's the reason behind all this.
Apologise! You apologise!
Karsandas, apologise!
- Karsandas!
- Apologise!
You will have to apologise.
Karsandas, apologise!
- Apologise!
- You will have to apologise!
What will my apologising achieve?
Will the doors reopen?
If he finds out his tactic works,
he'll close the Haveli doors every time.
Will we plead and knock
on the doors every single time?
In child-speak, it's called stubbornness,
and in English, blackmail.
If you're travelling
and you lose your way,
and you don't see a Haveli for days,
do you starve yourselves to death?
Don't you take the lord's name and eat?
So now, why let him exploit something
as basic as your hunger?
JJ has a problem with my articles
so he destroyed all the copies
before they could reach the market.
If he has a problem with me,
he should confront me
and ban me from the Haveli.
Why involve you, brothers?
Why mount his gun on your shoulders?
Don't forget,
as much as we need the Haveli,
the Haveli needs us even more.
His factory runs
on our faith and our donations.
Workers can go on strike,
but our god can't.
Haven't they taught us
that our god is everywhere?
Is this image not our god too?
Why can't we bow to him
and break our fast?
Tell me!
Has the cat got your tongue?
This is the first time someone
has spoken sense. Applaud him.
I'm starving.
I'm going to bow here and break my fast.
Whoever wants to do the same
can get in line. Come on!
Come on.
Today's morning prayers
will also be conducted before him.
Whose is that brave voice?
You cannot go to him
but he can definitely come to you.
You will lead the prayers today.
How could I dare to do that
when you are here, Lalvan-ji Maharaj?
Prayers must come from the heart.
That's the only condition.
If that's the case, anyone may lead.
Our god doesn't mind.
Some people have forgotten
that we are the Haveli's servants, Karsan,
not its masters.
- All hail our divine lord!
- Hail!
In the name of happiness!
Poona Observer, Deccan Herald,
Rast Goftar, Mumbai News.
You're plastered in every newspaper.
Everyone is talking about
the prayers being held in the street.
Now, the reprint of the first edition
of Satya Prakash
is all that remains.
Right, Nanu-bhai?
Had we not been accosted,
people would have read it long ago.
Such bad luck.
I was alone against five of them.
I told them if they wanted...
Nanu-bhai, focus on the facts.
He's been ranting all day.
I should not have taken that route.
They grabbed the whole lot.
"All Devotees in Raptures at Morning."
It should be "morning prayers",
not "morning".
Who'll write "prayers", my uncle?
And Haveli ends with a long vowel.
He doesn't know a thing.
Greetings. My name is Viraaj.
From outside the Haveli
the other day, remember?
You know, the whistler.
I'm here to apply for a job.
- Can you read and write?
- What do you mean?
I just spotted two mistakes
in the proof. I'm sarp.
"Sh". Sharp.
That's what I said.
Sarp, sharp, they're practically twins.
I've studied up to the tenth grade.
In fact, I studied the tenth grade
three times.
You see, I failed the exam twice.
But pass, fail, they're practically twins.
Never mind that, let's talk business.
Will you give me a job?
Don't fire me.
I was alone against five of them. I said...
Enough, Nanu-bhai.
You can work, but I can't pay.
That's all right.
Being broke is the hallmark of a reformer.
Allot any work to me.
I'll accomplis it with fervour.
Sh. "Accomplish."
Yes. Lis, lish, they're practically twins.
Pay attention to my passion,
not my errors.
Hey, Uncle Nanu, clear off. Come on.
Don't glare at me.
You'll cast an evil eye on me.
I don't have time to washte.
That one's "s" not "sh". Waste.
A bit eccentric, isn't he, the poor guy?
JJ, shall I open the Haveli doors?
The prayers and audiences have been being
conducted outside for the past two days.
You see, the devotees may start
considering the old tree a temple.
The doors will only open when that lowlife
begs for forgiveness at my feet.
What if he doesn't?
Even his bloody father will apologise.
You live far away in Vadaal.
Maybe that's why
you haven't read the Satya Prakash yet.
Over here, your son's shenanigans
have attracted all sorts of attention.
My son?
I'm responsible for maintaining
the balance and harmony in society.
Anyone disturbing that balance
needs to be punished.
Otherwise, every commoner will treat
the Haveli as a spittoon to be spat in.
I believe in compassion for all life,
but in times of plague,
killing rats becomes an act of virtue.
I am a well-wisher.
Act before it's too late.
Be fearless.
In Gujarati, there are three kinds of "s".
and "shh".
Got it. "Sa", "sa", and "sa".
Isn't that right?
I want to get this printed.
Father? You?
Father? You?
When did you arrive from Vadaal?
I want this printed in the Satya Prakash.
"I, Mulji Jivraj,
hereby sever all ties with my son,
Karsan Mulji, forever."
"He shall have no right to my name,
my wealth, or to perform my last rites."
"I never had, have, nor will I ever
have any connection
with his actions or writings."
It looks like your handwriting,
but I wonder why
it sounds like Jadunath Maharaj.
You've already been cast out of the home.
Next, you'll be cast out of the sect.
There's still time to correct yourself.
Go and beg forgiveness.
If you are cast out of the community,
you'll be isolated.
What use is a community
that turns you into a coward?
make sure this is printed
in the next issue.
What are you thinking?
Just that I can't hold on
to my relationships.
Kishori, my uncle, my aunt. Father.
I've lost them all along the way.
Those closest to me
have let me down, Viraaj.
It's your own teeth that bite your tongue.
If they've disappointed you,
embrace those in whom you see hope.
The moment I heard your first speech,
I decided that if I got married,
it'd be to you.
Viraaj, I...
I know all about Kishori.
My family tried hard to dissuade me.
Father even slapped me a couple of times.
But I'm not one to get swayed, you see.
- You're stubborn.
- No choice.
One must be stubborn to reach you.
I can cook,
I can embroider peacocks and parrots,
and I can even iron with a hotplate.
I've studied up to the tenth grade
and I'm the eldest sibling.
I may not be great to look at,
but you also won't find anyone
better looking than me.
I mean, I'm outspoken,
but I have a clean heart.
Besides, you won't find anyone else
and only a madman would marry me.
And Father says,
"Look high and low but you won't find
anyone crazier than Karsandas."
Now, what more could one ask for?
Will you mary me?
Yes, okay, mary, marry.
They're practically twins.
Okay, fine, if I say marry instead of
"mary", then will you mary me?
Is it yes or yes?
No? Damn it, no was not even an option.
Won't you at least tell me why not?
- Viraaj, I cannot stray from my objective.
- But...
You have the power to make me stray.
Was that a compliment or an insult?
Lishen, I will wait.
"Listen" not "lishen".
Yes, that's what I said.
S, sh, this "sh" is killing me.
Why must we count the stars one by one?
Why should we heed Fate?
Must we be the perfect couple?
Must we be together forever?
Let's take a risk on love
Let's toss a coin
Heads I'm yours, tails you're mine
Let's take a risk on love
Let's toss a coin
Heads I'm yours, tails you're mine
What do you say, my love?
Tell me, my love, is it yes? Or yes?
Is it yes or yes?
Is it yes or yes?
Coachman, stop. Let's go.
The article got reprinted
and finally reached the people, JJ.
Karsan has lost his mind.
People are asking all kinds of questions.
Doctor Bhau Daji Lad
is here with medicines.
He says...
it's urgent.
- JJ.
- JJ.
JJ, salutations.
Excuse us, JJ. She's feeling quite unwell.
Let's go.
Salutations, JJ.
Step aside.
They probably read the Satya Prakash.
Just one Karsan is plenty to stir up many.
Next time, before you press the thumbs
of young women, think first.
People might just stop worshipping
the toes on your feet.
That article has brought us
nothing but ruin, JJ.
Gifts and donations have been reduced.
It's a good thing you opened
the doors of the Haveli
or we'd be in dire straits.
Your silence is a weakness.
That's what all your devotees
have started believing.
JJ, if you say the word,
I can get rid of Karsan for good.
Everyone will point fingers at us
if anything happens to him now.
If religion cannot shut him up,
the courts will.
Send Bailey a message
that I want to see him.
A defamation claim of 50,000 rupees?
I never thought the Haveli
would take the legal route.
It's time to tread with caution, Karsan.
I'm a school headmaster
with a monthly salary of 60 rupees.
Even if I had a home and land to sell,
I'd barely manage to amass 5000 rupees.
If I have nothing to lose,
then what is there to fear?
If I lose, what's the worst
that could happen?
So be it.
I will continue to write from inside.
The problem is that
we'll have to go to court
and the court demands proof
which we neither have nor ever will.
Who would allow their wife or daughter
to testify that Maharaj abused them?
Where would we find witnesses
who would dare testify in front of JJ?
As soon as I heard about
the notice from Maharaj,
I called for a meeting of the Bhatia sect.
Karsandas, meet the people
who will testify against JJ.
- All hail our divine lord!
- Hail!
- All hail the beloved one!
- Hail!
- All hail the sect founder!
- Hail!
- All hail the beloved one!
- Hail!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
- All hail the sect founder!
- Hail!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
Prepare a pitcher of gold, Khawas.
The honourable Karsandas is coming
to wash my feet and beg forgiveness.
"A new bride must spend her first night
in the Haveli." That was the order given.
Mr Shyamlal's third son
is actually JJ's child
who he's raising as his own.
Kapol, Das, Goswami, Shrinivas,
and who knows how many more are there.
We will testify in court.
Please proceed, Karsandas.
- All hail our divine lord!
- Hail!
- All hail the beloved one!
- Hail!
You've finally come, Karsandas.
I've been waiting for you.
Once the prodigal son returns,
he is considered a penitent.
Wash his feet and beg for forgiveness.
End of story.
What's going on, Khawas?
The revered Jadunath Maharaj has filed
a defamation case for 50,000 against me.
I've come with my response to his notice.
Mr Anstey, my lawyer.
This stripling will fight
a case against me?
He hasn't even sprouted a moustache yet.
All the more reason to be careful, JJ.
Youthful faces entice you to slip up.
See you in court.
No Maharaj from our sect
has ever gone to court.
We unanimously request
that you not do so either.
So, what would you have me do?
Apologise to that Karsandas?
Withdraw my case
and admit that the Haveli
has been exploiting devotees for years?
Only those who fear do things on the sly
and I fear nothing and no one.
It is necessary to instil fear in devotees
because religious duties
can be enforced through fear.
I cannot let the long penance
of our ancestors go in vain.
I, Maharaj Jadunath,
am the face of this sect.
I have garnered incredible wealth
for this Haveli.
I will go to court
and teach that "das" such a lesson
that no one like him will ever dare
to point fingers at the Haveli again.
Karsandas, the Bhatias
have sent a message.
They are no longer willing
to testify in court.
Varjivan Bhatia has been missing
since noon.
Other Bhatias are being threatened
with ostracization.
Because of JJ's machinations, the entire
fraternity has turned against the Bhatias.
They're all running scared.
Unbelievable. What can we do now?
Those men were all we had.
Karsan, if you like we can file
a conspiracy case against them.
Once a summons is issued against them,
they will be compelled to testify.
They're already being coerced, Mr Anstey.
How could we compel them further?
- Where are you going?
- To the press.
Let the people know
how low the Maharaj has stooped.
- But...
- Tejpal.
Karsan, there's...
Come with me.
How did it catch fire?
Somebody call Karsandas!
How did it catch fire?
The Satya Prakash has caught fire.
Hey, someone get water.
Hurry, someone do something.
It's my fault that
Mr Tejpal's press was burned down.
Father was right.
One must consider one's status
when making friends and foes.
The very people I'm fighting for
have turned into my enemies.
- Whom shall I fight for?
- For your objective.
For every woman whose scream
is stuck in her throat.
Imagine what those women
have to go through
when their own husbands send them to JJ.
I was only 16...
when my parents took me to the Haveli...
to perform divine service.
I was just a child.
An innocent.
Yet, I sensed that what was happening
to me was unnatural and dirty.
I cried, screamed, and ran from there
and never again set foot
through the back door of the Haveli.
Maybe not every girl is like me
and able to understand it in time.
Ensuring that
they don't suffer like Kishori
is now your responsibility.
People like JJ hate reformist ideas.
Even if you lose,
your ideals will still win.
This case is just a part of the battle.
Our battle is much bigger.
So why be dizappointed?
They're practically twins.
If I say it right, will you fight
without feeling dizappointed?
Is it yes or yes?
Mr Tejpal wants to see you at once.
JJ's wife has come to his house.
His wife?
I heard what happened to the Bhatias...
and about the press.
Go to this address.
You are sure to find a witness there.
Madam, what are you doing here?
I stand on the threshold
between my duty as a wife
and my duty to help you.
I don't have the courage...
to cross the line.
- Farewell.
- Farewell.
Untouchable approaching. Stand clear.
I knew you'd eventually find me.
Aren't you...?
Come inside. Hurry up.
Karsandas Mulji is here.
I am Shaam-ji Damodar
and this is my sister, Leelavati.
That night I brought a cart
to pick you up.
But when I got there...
Before you got back,
two people dragged us into the Haveli.
When we went in,
we saw JJ's wife standing there.
JJ had fed my sister a spiked laddoo
to induce an abortion.
But that night, JJ's wife made her drink
salt water to make her vomit.
And if she's sent you here,
it can only mean one thing.
She also wants us...
to testify against JJ.
And we certainly will.
The hearing is in 15 days.
If JJ finds out,
he will try some new trick.
What do we do?
Let's hide them in Mr Tejpal's villa
in Mamleshwar until the hearing.
Don't worry.
Your safety is now my responsibility.
With his lotus-like hand
He takes his lotus-like foot
And on his lotus-like mouth
It absently settles
On a banyan leaf he lies
Our lord as a divine child
Chant the many sacred names of our lord
Chant the many sacred names of our lord
Chant the many sacred names of our lord
Chant the many sacred names of our lord
Lord, O divine lord
Lord, O divine lord
Who says the lord does not come to you?
Who says the lord does not come to you?
We must call his name with true devotion
We must call his name with true devotion
They can burn down the press,
but not your passion.
From now on,
the Satya Prakash will be printed here.
Sing the praises of our lord
Sing the praises of our lord
Chant as you go, work as you go
Chant as you go, work as you go
He will surely remember you one day
He will surely remember you one day
You will behold him one day
You will behold him one day
Sing the praises of our lord
Sing the praises of our lord
He is the Lord of Dwarka
I am under his spell
He is Sudama's friend
I am under his spell
Sing the praises of our lord
Sing the praises of our lord
Who is the letter from?
It's from Dr Bhau Daji Lad,
Jadunath Maharaj's personal physician.
- All hail the sect founder!
- Hail!
- All hail the beloved one!
- Hail!
- All hail the sect founder!
- Hail!
- All hail the beloved one!
- Hail!
Come, Karsan... das.
Before we face off in court, I thought
I'd give you one last chance, but...
I have three conditions.
One. Apologise to me.
Apologise to me.
And three.
Apologise to me...
in private,
in the Haveli,
and in court.
Then, I will withdraw the case.
There will only be one apology,
Jadunath Maharaj...
in court.
Only the court will decide
who apologises to whom.
I just wanted to give you one last chance.
A chance is given to someone
who trails behind you
or whose comprehension is less than yours.
By that logic, I should be the one
giving you a last chance, JJ.
The difference is that
even if you were to apologize to me,
I would not allow this case
to be dismissed.
I'll take my leave.
Before you leave,
take some of the offerings, Karsan.
Karsan, this is Leelavati.
Early this morning,
I got her married to Giridhar Khawas.
The poor girl has two young sisters,
elderly parents,
and a child who needs a father's name.
Where is Shaam-ji Damodar?
Shaam-ji Damodar who?
Her brother.
Ah, yes.
Where Shaam-ji is...
only our lord knows.
What did you expect, Karsan?
That I wouldn't keep an eye on you?
I told you to apologise, but you...
You are ultimately just a "das", a serf.
Never mind.
Let our lord's will be done.
You can do it in court.
after paying the 50,000 rupees.
JJ is here.
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
I have given verdicts
in over 200 cases, Joseph.
I've never seen people
so involved in a case before.
It's their religion
which keeps them united, I say.
It also divides them.
How else have we ruled over them
for so long?
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
If he wanted, he could have
driven his chariot all the way in.
But he didn't.
Show of strength.
The emptier the drum,
the louder it sounds.
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
We've heard the opening statements
of Maharaj Libel Case 12047.
Shall we continue
with the proceedings, gentlemen?
First of all, I would like to call
Jadunath Brij Ratan-ji Maharaj
to the witness box.
I am not running away.
Ask whatever you want
and I will answer from here.
Objection, my lord.
The plaintiff must obey protocol.
As you can see, the plaintiff is in
a league of his own, Mr Anstey.
Let's humour him for a bit, shall we?
You've gotten used
to accepting tributes, JJ.
This is not a gift, it's the Gita.
Place your hand on it and swear
that you will speak the truth
and nothing but the truth.
The Maharaj does not swear.
People swear in the name of the Maharaj.
The Maharaj does not tell the truth.
Whatever he says
is the truth.
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
- All hail the sect founder!
- Hail!
All hail...
Take this man outside.
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
And Maharaj, you will not get any further
concessions from this court.
Mr Bailey, will you please
make things clear
before your client gets on my nerves?
Never mind.
It's only an oath sworn by this book.
I swear that I shall speak the truth.
On the basis of the article by my client,
Mr Karsandas Mulji,
which was published in the Satya Prakash,
you have filed a charge of libel,
of defamation, correct?
But the article that mentions him by name
is based on facts.
To prove this, I would like to call
Dr Ramakrishna Vitthal Lad
to the witness box.
Dr Ramkrishna Vitthal Lad,
present yourself!
Dr Bhau Daji Lad,
I believe that's how people
address you lovingly.
Will you introduce yourself?
My lord, I am a qualified doctor.
I graduated from the first batch
of the Grant Medical College in 1850.
I'm an employee of the British Government
and also the personal physician
to all the priests and their families
of all the Havelis in Bombay.
So, it's obvious you would have treated
Jadunath Maharaj too?
Yes. I treated him
for the chaandi disease.
Chaandi disease?
My lord, it's a venereal disease,
a sexually transmitted disease
which is commonly known as syphilis.
Order in the court, please.
The doctor has testified
that the revered JJ has syphilis.
Dr Lad, how does one contract syphilis?
Having multiple sexual partners
is the most common cause
of this infection.
Along with medication,
I advised him to abstain
from having multiple sexual partners.
One more point.
JJ also asked about medication
to induce a miscarriage
because old methods
like spiked laddoos don't always work.
He sent pregnant women to me with a letter
from him on a couple of occasions.
I sent them away at once.
This also led to tension
between JJ and me.
Thank you for your statement, Dr Lad.
No more questions. Your witness, please.
Dr Lad,
did you personally inspect
the Maharaj for syphilis?
- No.
- There was no need.
Perhaps Dr Lad's hearing is weak.
I had chaanda not chaandi.
It's also called chaatha, which means...
He means he had boils
on his private parts.
Last month, I went to Tailangaa.
I consumed too much black pepper,
ginger, and other spices
which caused a breakout of blisters.
I called for Dr Lad.
I said chaanda, but he heard chaandi,
and hence caused this confusion.
Exactly. Without inspection,
it is difficult to conclude
whether it is syphilis or blisters.
It's inconclusive evidence, your lordship,
with a most certain probability
of a wrong diagnosis.
Now, the point of abortions.
The ladies who came to you, did they ever
name JJ or complain about him?
Did they ever say that the child was his?
Did they claim they were raped?
Did anyone ever claim the child was his?!
If it's his name on the letter,
it can only mean...
No, Doctor, I am sorry.
If the letter was from Maharaj, it does
not prove that the child was his too.
My lord, Dr Lal is assuming things.
He has no solid proof.
My lord, you may take
an independent opinion from any doctor!
If he doesn't have any secondary symptoms
of syphilis, I will quit the profession!
The defence immediately requests
a medical verification.
- Granted.
- Don't... my lord!
Do you have any more questions
for the doctor, Mr Bailey?
No more questions, my lord.
I now request the court
to allow me to question
JJ's manservant, Giridhar Khawas.
I hear you were married off
to a girl named Leelavati yesterday
and you quietly went along with it.
Leelavati and I were married
eight months ago,
during the tour to Dwarka with JJ.
She is seven months pregnant
with my child.
I am the child's father.
I swear it.
"It's my child. I am the child's father."
Why this repeated insistence
that the child is yours?
Is there any doubt about it?
No, it's the truth. It is what it is.
If it's my child, I'll obviously
call it mine, I won't call it... yours.
You're repeatedly underlining it
because the child is not yours, it's JJ's.
It is his leftovers that you accept
as blessed offerings.
- Objection!
- My lord, Leelavati was raped.
She was fed spiked laddoos
to induce an abortion.
When Karsandas sheltered them
in Mamleshwar, JJ had them abducted.
Shaam-ji was held hostage
and Khawas was married
to Leelavati overnight
so that neither of them could testify.
To hell with defamation, my lord!
We are dealing with rape,
attempt to murder,
and tampering of witnesses!
This crowd is quiet
because I command quiet.
There are 10-20 times more devotees
outside the courtroom.
They are passionate devotees.
They will not tolerate insults
beyond a limit.
If their rage leads to riots
and bloodshed,
I will not be the one responsible,
Mr Anstey, any more questions
for Giridhar Khawas?
No, my lord. The witness is dismissed.
Now, I'd like to call my client,
Karsandas Mulji to the witness box.
Karsandas Mulji has been called
to the witness box.
What does
"witnessing a divine service" mean?
It means watching the Maharaj have
intimate relations with a female devotee.
You mean intercourse? Inside the Haveli?
Devotees can also pay money
to watch this coupling take place.
My goodness.
Lord, forgive them,
for they know not what they say.
Providing devotees with a viewing
of the divine service
so that they may attain salvation
is my duty and my privilege.
It is an age-old ritual.
Rituals have to be correct, not old, JJ.
If the rituals were wrong,
songs would not be sung in their praise.
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
All hail the beloved one!
- Hail!
- Out!
- All hail the sect founder!
- Hail!
- All hail Jadunath Maharaj!
- Hail!
- All hail the beloved one!
- Hail!
Mr Karsandas,
have you ever witnessed
the divine service with your own eyes?
Between my fiance Kishori and JJ.
And did Kishori
have any objection to the act?
Meaning, was she forced to do it?
I'm sorry, could you repeat that?
- No.
- No!
A consensual participant, my lord.
But because of that incident,
you broke off the engagement.
And hence your family
threw you out of the house?
So, naturally,
even your very own family was convinced
what happened was appropriate...
My lord, what are these questions
leading to?
To the motive, Mr Anstey!
Kishori's suicide!
Banished from his home!
His own father cutting all ties with him.
He holds JJ responsible
for all his personal tragedies.
His anger and bitterness against
the Maharaj are visible in his articles.
He made a public spectacle
of his personal grudges!
And for what? For what?
To take revenge?
To seek attention?
Or to earn fame and money?
That, only he can tell!
I neither crave wealth nor desire fame.
I am a Vaishnav by birth,
but a Brahmin by action.
By temperament a Kshatriya,
a warrior by spirit,
and I aim for the humility
of a Shudra, or cleaner.
So wherever I see filth,
I try to clean it up.
Just think. What could I gain
by fighting this case,
by writing that article, Mr Lawyer?
I don't have 50,000 rupees,
and I never will.
Sir, lately I have read many
religious books and attended seminars.
The respect I had for my religion
and sect has only increased.
But so has the anger against every person
who harms its dignity and sanctity
for their personal gain.
When we take the Brahmsambandh vow,
we chant the following stanza:
This prayer means:
"Lord, you are my protector."
"My body, my soul, my wealth,
and my world, I offer to you."
"Lord, I am your 'das', or serf."
Right, Maharaj?
How is this stanza interpreted
in the Haveli, Maharaj?
Go on, tell us.
A new bride
must first be asked to lie...
with the Maharaj.
Out of the whole,
which includes many words,
which word did he pick?
"Wife. Woman."
Which of our sacred texts say
that the Maharaj must lie with a wife
before her own husband does?
There are many examples
of such ugly misinterpretations.
These sacred texts are in Sanskrit
which not everybody can read.
Why not just translate them?
Why transcreate them?
A guide and guru
should not misinterpret sacred texts.
To reinterpret changes in meaning
across the ages
is the responsibility of the Maharaj, sir.
Who decides whether you're even worthy?
Who gives you this power?
My devotees give me the power!
They pay tribute.
They demand interpretation.
Women come to offer service
of their own free will.
So what? So what if they do?
They are uneducated
but you are knowledgeable, aren't you?
You are their guru.
You could have refused, JJ,
but you did not.
Because it suited your lust not to.
A guru guides those
who have strayed from the path.
But what if the guru himself strays?
Where there is power,
there is exploitation.
If this Maharaj goes, another will replace
him and create new traditions.
Whether they do or not,
I want to guide those who have deviated.
I've said only one thing from day one.
My fight is neither against the Haveli
nor any particular sect.
I continue to pray in the Haveli
with as much devotion as ever.
I'm proud to be a Vaishnav.
I continue to be a proud
and devout Vaishnav, my lord.
I have no personal grudge against JJ
because it is not the man but his
erring ways that I seek to eradicate.
Us devotees too are a part
of these erring ways.
One cannot clap with one hand, sir.
These priests get away with such things
because we are complicit.
You don't even let your daughters or wives
lift their veils outside the home.
How dare another man press them into
divine service while others watch?
If he accepts divine service,
that is his wrong.
But why do you celebrate the event
by cooking laapsi?
If you don't stop
what has been going on for centuries,
then it will continue for millennia.
Only the names of the gurus will change.
Nothing else.
Religious beliefs are intensely private,
personal, and sacred.
They are not bound by location or by form.
Religion is commemorated in one's heart,
not in the public square.
Our god walks by our side.
One doesn't need a bridge to reach him.
No JJ, religious service, or ritual
can guarantee one a ticket to heaven.
It is only one's deeds
that will take one there.
Sir, no matter what the outcome
of this trial is, I have learned a lesson.
Only speak the truth if you have proof.
It isn't enough for a wound to hurt.
It must leave a scar.
Even if I'm put behind bars...
I'll continue to raise questions...
and hold people accountable.
The battlefield may change,
but my battle will not.
Stand by me if you wish,
but if not, I will fight alone.
I will stand by you.
I will testify against JJ.
Me too.
Me too.
Me too.
Me too.
About 32 people testified
over the next seven days.
Some women spoke up
for themselves fearlessly.
Men also spoke up for their wives,
sisters, and daughters.
The Maharaj's defamation
was not caused by Karsandas
but by his own vile conduct.
In this landmark ruling,
Sir Matthew Richard Sausse's court
acquitted Karsandas Mulji of all
defamation charges on 22 April 1862.
This court finds the defendant not guilty.
In the verdict, Sir Sausse suggested
that criminal proceedings be filed
against Jadunath Maharaj.
Move aside. Make way.
Thanks to the Maharaj Libel Case,
services like the divine service
were banned
and a precedent was set
that even JJ was not above the law.
The society that we live in today
is the bequest left by great reformists
like Karsandas Mulji,
who taught that one does not need
a bridge to reach the divine.
Religion is a means
to become a good person,
not to become a god.
Subtitle translation by: Neena Kiss