The Film begins with Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), who was picked for the position of a clerk from a jail in Uttar Pradesh in the year 1887, to present a ceremonial coin, “Mohar” at Victoria’s Golden Jubilee banquet in England, only cause the job required a man who is tall. This also included Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar) who isn’t that tall but lands up there by accident. Their stint was supposed to be a small one until things went haywire. Queen Victoria (Judi Dench), who is in her twilight years now, is tired of inexorable royal duties. She longs for some novelty which young Abdul, with his knowledge and great storytelling skills, fulfills delightfully. Abdul considers the Queen a very special person, and their kindness towards each other is enthralling. The developing bond of friendship between them, and the efforts made by her racist and classist court and heirs to stop it is the entire film about.
The film highlights the fact that the Queen was truly a non-racist in an era of unthinkable racism. The setting is quite remarkable here. The film shows some fairly progressive views of hers, like the appointment of a Muslim to a key role in the royal household, is a conquest for diversity. Judi Dench, who was previously seen playing a younger version of the Queen in Mrs.Brown, is in terrific form once again. She masterly captures all the nuances required to play an aged, lonely yet determined Queen. It is absolutely amazing to see her playing weary and spunky with equal believability. Ali Fazal performs his innocent and charming character of Abdul nicely. It is a big feat for a young actor to be able to stand in front of an accomplished actor like Dench and he has managed to make most of the opportunity. They’re an appealing bunch, cast-wise: Paul Higgins is briskly funny as the Queen’s private physician Dr. Reid, Olivia Williams winningly aloof as Baroness Churchill, Eddie Izzard uncannily Tim Curry-like as the scheming Bertie, the Prince of Wales and Victoria’s eldest son, Adeel Akhtar’s terrific comic value as Abdul’s lugubrious assistant. But their growing impatience with Abdul is easier to sympathize with than it’s probably supposed to be: he does become annoying, largely, because the film gives him a genial glow instead of a character, and banks on you not noticing the difference.
Stephen Frears (Florence Foster Jenkins, Philomena) struggles to manage the smooth flow of the story. A fascinating tale of friendship and such good chemistry between the cast could’ve been directed in a much better way, but Frears’ direction comes off one note.
All in all, Victoria And Abdul is a simple movie about an interesting friendship between the empress and a servant. We give it 3 stars with a kink!
The Film begins with Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), who was picked for the position of a clerk from a jail in Uttar Pradesh in the year 1887, to present...3.0