Verdict: Ali Fazal impresses while Dame Judi Dench gives an Oscar-worthy performance.
We have all been waiting for the Indian release of the Ali Fazal–starrer, Victoria & Abdul. After all, Fazal has done the country proud by becoming yet another actor to make his mark internationally. After Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, it is this young actor from UP who is appearing in a Hollywood movie, where he plays a prominent role, alongside none other but Dame Judi Dench. Victoria and Abdul is all set for an Indian release on Friday, October 13, but we have already seen it and here’s why you must watch it too.
What's It About:
As the name suggests, Victoria and Abdul explores the friendship of Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her Indian servant, Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal). Set in the pre-Independence period, the movie begins with Abdul’s visit to England to present the Queen with a mohur (a gold coin of the Mughal Empire). His short visit is extended when the Queen takes a liking to him and Abdul becomes her personal footman and later, Urdu coach. There’s a slight hint of romance in this unlikely relationship, which is rather overpowered by mutual respect and camaraderie. Other members of the royal household do not take kindly to Abdul, seeing him as a lowly servant, undeserved of his position. With pressure from the Prime Minister (Michael Gambon), they have to do all they can to send Abdul back home.
The trailer of the film gives most of the plot away. Even in the short video, Judi Dench certainly impresses as the Queen – a role she is not new to. But in the film, all eyes are on her all the time, as she blows your mind away. She is stern, yet every bit regal as you would expect the Queen to be. Everything and everyone seem to function as per her whims and fancies. In contrast, Fazal brings in a breath of fresh air into the highly uptight British cast. He is lively and spirited, as compared to the Queen, who mostly seems bored and exhausted. Both Victoria and Abdul’s characters change as their friendship blossoms, with Abdul becoming more confident and the Queen more cheerful. Ali Fazal underplays his part well enough, which is required for his role, while Judi Dench gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the monarch.
What Could Have Been Better:
After the vivacious first half, the second half seems a little dull. This part mainly focusses on the conspiracies by the royal household to relinquish Abdul of his position. While it tries to keep up with the humor and spirit of the first half, this one will turn on the waterworks as the story progresses to a much darker period for our beloved Abdul.
Why You Should Watch:
Judi Dench and Ali Fazal’s chemistry is off the charts. The latter has definitely lived up to our expectations with his performance, so if you’re not watching it for our fukra, catch the film to see the Dame in yet another amazing role.