Director: Stephen Frears
Starring: Judi Dench & Ali Fazal
It is extremely impressive and refreshing to watch Judi Dench at 81 dominating the screen again on her own giving such a powerful and moving performance.
While watching her this time …. With each scene I want to stand to bow to her and at the same time I want to jump to give her a hug. She has this charming presence that combines strength and compassion.
Victoria & Abdul is the story of friendship that formed between the lonely 82 year old Queen Victoria with Abdul Karim, her handsome youthful Indian servant. A story which was kept hidden for over a century until the surviving diaries of Abdul were shared with the author Shrabani Basu who turned it in to book.
The movie shows the human vulnerable side of Queen Victoria through her opening up to her new friend Abdul. A friendship which was misunderstood and envied by her households.
Of course, we can’t fully verify if all the events in the movie are true but knowing the characters are real it tells us how pure friendship and trust could grow even in the hardest circumstances with all sort of differences between them …age, background and social status in 1887. But also, having said this and read a bit more about the real story we should also remember not to take this film as real history but more of a successful attempt to pass this message.
Abdul was played by the Bollywood star Ali Fazal and rating his performance was so hard since he is playing against the legend Judie Dench …but overall combined with the customs ..the overall picture I think he was doing well. I think the Director Stephen Frears deliberately added the sense of humor and lightness in the movie to accommodate for the rest of the actors specially Ali Fazal.
I know many critics were a bit hard on this movie since it brushed off the British acts in the colonized territories. Although I kind of agree with this view but this time I chose not over analyze and just enjoy the lightness and message in this film knowing it is not entirely true.
I predict an Oscar for Judi Dench …and possibly the custom designs. They managed to be very loyal to the real pictures of Queen Victoria and Abdul Kareem in this period.