Movie Masala

Another tale from Raj: Little known story of Queen Victoria and her closest confidant Abdul Kareem

Written by Aashis pandey

Inspired by the true story of a special relationship between an Indian clerk and Queen Victoria, the trailer of Victoria & Abdul, starring Dame Judy Dench and Ali Fazal in the lead roles is out.

The film is inspired by book Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Shrabani Basu, who researched the close relationship Queen Victoria had with her servant-turned-teacher-turned-friend Abdul Kareem. Abdul Kareem taught her Urdu, the Quran and about India.

The British newspaper, The Telegraph, says that Queen Victoria’s relationship with her 24-year-old Indian servant (in the year 1888), named Abdul Karim, was one of the most scandalous chapters in her 64-year Imperial rule.

Word of their relationship spread like a wildfire across the royal court and the British empire. It is said after the death of the Queen, her son King Edward got all the evidence — letters, photographs, etc, — to be destroyed.

But a few years ago, the diary of Karim resurfaced, which his family had managed to keep as a hidden secret for many years. That diary had letters and pictures from his time in England where he served the Queen, as her loyal servant.

Telegraph says Dench fits her part; this is her second time she plays Queen Victoria, as she had earlier played the role in 1997 film Mrs Brown. She has carried herself with dignity in 17th century attire and looks very real.

The Queen, who had half the world under her feet, is shown to be exhausted and exasperated with all the political affairs she’s handled. Through Karim, she sort of rediscovers herself, the world around her and finds new goals to look forward to –  learning Urdu, knowledge about the ‘exotic fruit or the Queen of Fruits’ mangoes –  in her aim to be the true ruler of the Indian subcontinent.

Fazal, as Karim, is a delight to watch. The costumes, his look  –  all of it creates an old-Victorian nostalgia that still lingers around the present India. The scenes with both of them are pleasant and humorous at the same time. Fazal and Dench manage to create that charm on screen.

Fazal, whose previous international work was a cameo in Furious 7, looks like this will mark his proper international debut!

Victoria & Abdul is slated for release in September this year.

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Aashis pandey

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