‘Victoria and Abdul’ was released in the year 2017. Director Stephan Frear crafts this smart masterpiece out of passion and yet with an incomplete portrayal of the era but still, there are surprising aspects which make this movie worthwhile.
Abdul Karim is called from Agra with one of his companions to England. He and his friend are to present a ceremonial coin to the then Empress Queen Victoria regarding whom they are drowned with an exhausting number of rules, of interactions and of presentations.
Queen Victoria, who herself is in a deplorable state of boredom and is constant frail. Yet she quickly eyes Abdul with a child’s enthusiasm and curiosity as he presents the Empress with the coin in the royal banquette. And what further follows is a peculiar relation of companionship between a queen and the new brown servant.
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Judi Dench’s portrayal of Victoria is immensely engaging. She brings a breath of fresh air to the person with one of the most serious characteristics in the history of Britain.
It is not the first time she has carried the role of the Empress Victoria, only this time she seems to be more familiarized, more adept with it. Judi Dench’s does what she could to make Queen Victoria as amusing as possible.
If one would look at the history, it would seem peculiar to skim through the life pages of the infamous queen. She was famous for all the unconventional reasons which included her strange infatuation with an Indian Muslim named Abdul Karim.
Victoria finds Abdul immensely handsome and endearing and wishes to be amused by his audience.
Their bond makes viewers question the nature of the understanding the duo have. The bond between them does not seem be of romantic nature, but at times neither of platonic one.
Queen Victoria becomes utterly attached to Abdul. She takes him with her entourage to Italy, promotes him to the rank of Munshi (Teacher). She asks Abdul to teach her Urdu and desires to handle the documents of the states.
Once she feels heartbroken like a jealous lover when Abdul tells her that he is married while urging him the second to bring his wife to England. The movie takes on smart but apparent turns from comic to seriously dramatic as the narrative stirs with a handful of flavors of betrayal, love, and longing.
Victoria and Abdul is a film that tells so much about how the Europeans perceive the idea of colonization and the aspects of the British Raj which they still seem to be cling to, even to this modern century.
Ali Fazal, who has played the notorious Abdul has been given less depth to his characters. His character carries only a handful of traits such as being ambitious and devoted to the Queen.
He is fine actor when one would observe his Bollywood performances . He did manage to bag roles ranging from small to larger ones in Hollywood.
His acting in Mirzapur is flawless and praiseworthy.
However, Abdul depicted in the movie is somehow a shallow character, but that mostly falls onto the shoulders of the writer Lee Hall who fails to explore more of the South Asian servant.
Like any other great movie, Victoria and Abdul has been derived from a book by Shrabani Basu. It is said that she was on a research journey to England for another book of hers when she encountered the portraits of Abdul in the Royal Osbourne House of UK during the late 1990s.
Shrabani was struck by the portrait of Abdul that day. It was obvious that the man had been no common in the royal court. He was painted “beautifully, in red and gold”
The paintings showing Abdul was clear that he was a nobleman and this sparked interest in
Shrabani into penning down her book: Victoria and Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant.
Given the status of the Queen and her perchance for Abdul, it was obvious that their relationship would draw and avalanche of criticism from the royal court and family.
After the death of the Queen in 1901, Abdul was evicted from the her given to him by the Queen and was immediately departed back to India.
Victoria’s daughter Beatice had ensured no traces of Abdul be remained while her son Edward became devoted to erasing any means of communication between his mother and Abdul. for almost a hundred years, no notion of someone like Abdul was registered until someone with an eagle eye noticed something missing (Unfortunately I do not know who that person was).
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Despite lacking details from the actual book, Stephan Frear’s movie turns out to be a laudable attempt comprising an important part of Queen Victoria ‘s life (approximately 10 long years).
The film has been shot in all its English glory, which was quite dark and cold. To my opinion, I would definitely have enjoyed a warmer hue of colors in this English themed masterpiece- similar to the works of Pride and Prejudice by Joe Wright. But there is still however, much more to the eyes.
Victoria and Abdul does seem an interesting watch . It’s for the smart elusive ones who like to admire the aesthetics in a movie.
And maybe that is why don’t want to write much about this movie as it might reveal too much of it that I fear.
I want those who haven’t watched it yet to go through the experience. It’s a movie for the lovers of history and the works of Jane Austin and of Sherlock Holmes.
If you have not watched Victoria and Abdul, it is highly recommended that you do. The project will give out mixed emotions but with an experience which could be worthwhile.