The first look at the upcoming film, Victoria & Abdul has recently been released introducing Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal as Abdul Karim. The film tackles how a clerk/servant from India has become one of the British monarch’s most trusted confidants and companions. Based on a book of the same name written by Shrabani Basu, the movie picks up during the last remaining years of the Victoria in office. Celebrating her Golden Jubilee reign (50 years on the throne), Abdul was sent from India to Great Britain to personally present a gift to the monarch in the form of a ceremonial coin. Little did he know that his life is about to change forever.
Dench is no stranger to stepping into the shoes of Queen Victoria. The veteran actress has previously played the part two decades ago in the film Mrs. Brown. 20 years later, she takes on the same role once again. This time alongside Bollywood actor Fazal in a story about an unusual but unbreakable friendship.
The two and a half minute sneak peek of Victoria & Abdul starts with the aging queen narrating her current life as a monarch. That is until the visiting Abdul made the mistake of making eye contact with her majesty – something that he was blatantly told not to do. But instead of Victoria getting furious at the servant’s mistake, she instantly felt at ease, even curious about the Indian man visiting England. From then on, the two develop a friendship that is both scandalous and admirable with Victoria eventually wanting to learn the Indian culture due to her newfound companion. At one point, the queen was even threatened of being dethroned if she insists on keeping Abdul as part of the Royal staff.
Based off of the trailer, the balance between humor with the Queen dozing off of the dinner table and throwing some quippy lines and the drama due to her living within the constrictions of her long-held position has been effective. Director Stephen Frears’ latest offering will seemingly give the audience a new take and a closer look at what really is it like to be one of the richest, most well-known and respected personalities all over the globe.
Victoria & Abdul is barely the first time that a film or even a TV show (fictional or non-fictional) has tackled the issues and dilemmas of being a member of the famed British Royal family all throughout the years. But Dench’s Victoria has a unique predicament of continuing to fulfill her duties as queen with her old age, as well as, coping with the loneliness that comes with her highly scrutinized life. And the arrival of someone different like Abdul gives her the opportunity to see life in a way that she has never seen before.
In retrospect, Victoria & Abdul‘s narrative is relevant now more than ever despite it being set all the way back to the late 1800s. It is such a great timing for a film that tackles friendship beyond race, religion and social classes to come out at a time where the topics of diversity and all-inclusiveness are hot issues.
Sources: Focus Features