The trailer of Victoria & Abdul — which was to be launched at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, but had to be cancelled due to the Manchester terror attack — was finally unveiled on Tuesday evening.
The film is based on the book of the same name by the author Shrabani Basu. It is an account of the extraordinary friendship between the monarch and her servant. In a piece by The Telegraph, it stated 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 back, 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.
Victoria & Abdul looks promising (at least through the trailer) and is successful in creating the era within which the film is based. Judi 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.
Ali 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. Ali Fazal and Judi Dench manage to create that charm on screen.
It is going to be really exciting how the entire film comes out to be.
The film, directed by Stephen Frears is slated to release on 22 September 2017.