Based on by Indian author Shrabani Basu, the film explores the “hidden” true story of the unlikely friendship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her humble servant from India Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal).
The upcoming biographical drama sees academy award winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) reunite with Academy Award-nominated director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena, Mrs. Henderson Presents) and return to the role of Queen Victoria.
Portraying the role of the young clerk Abdul Karim – also known as the Munshi – is Indian stage and film star Ali Fazal. Victoria & Abdul also features a strong line-up of leading film, television, and stage personalities including Eddie Izzard who performs the role of Bertie, Prince of Wale, Tim Pigott-Smith (The Jewel in the Crown) who performs the role of Sir Henry Ponsonby, and BAFTA Award winner Adeel Akhtar (Murdered by My Father) who portrays Abdul’s loyal friend Mohammed, condensing a star-studded cast.
Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant by Indian author Shrabani Basu
The idea of the story began in 2001 when Basu was researching a book on the history of curry. After learning that Queen Victoria enjoyed eating curries, Basu visited Osborne House, Victoria’s Isle of Wight residence, and was most intrigued to see two portraits and one bronze bust of a regal-looking Indian man. In Victoria’s dressing room, she spotted another portrait of the Indian man, situated directly beneath that of Victoria’s beloved John Brown. On a larger scale, Osborne’s Durbar Room, crammed with treasures from India, was a monument to Victoria’s fascination with “the jewel in the crown;” even though she was the Empress of India, she never visited.
In an attempt to conceal the relationship between Queen Victoria and Abdul, The Queen’s son Bertie, later King Edward VII, had destroyed all correspondence between his mother and the Munshi – but had not thought to touch her Hindustani journals. In those journals, Basu discovered the story of Queen Victoria and her beloved Munshi, Abdul Karim. Handwritten by Victoria in Urdu, the journals had sat in the Royal Archive, entirely left out of any and all Western versions of Victorian history because none of the historians read Urdu. His diary gave Basu a first-hand account that confirmed much of what she had found in the Queen’s Urdu writings.
Ali Fazal as Abdul
Portraying the role of the young clerk Abdul Karim – also known as the Munshi – is Indian stage and film star Ali Fazal who is attaining further international acclaim as a leading man withVictoria & Abdul. Born and raised in India, Ali studied acting and caught the attention of critics with his stage performance in Akarsh Khurana’s A Guy Thing. This led to his first Bollywood film, starring in smash-hit 3 Idiots, in the memorable role of Joy Lobo. He later starred in numerous Bollywood films, including the sleeper hit Fukrey and Mudassar Aziz’s Happy Bhag Jayegi. He made his Hollywood breakthrough in a supporting role in James Wan’s blockbuster Furious 7, alongside Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Dwayne Johnson.
Victoria & Abdul will be out in cinema’s 15th September