Victoria & Abdul

"God save Dame Judi Dench. The one-woman powerhouse has, at 82 years of age, given a career-high turn in Victoria and Abdul." - The Times

"A little-known episode from the final years of Queen Victoria’s reign provides the inspiration for this unexpected odd-couple comedy drama, which reflects upon changing British attitudes towards India. The fact that one of Victoria’s regal titles was “Empress of India” didn’t alter the fact she never visited the place, but this adaptation of journalist Shrabani Basu’s non-fiction study brings to light certain recent discoveries suggesting the Queen may actually have been more open-minded and curious about India and its rich culture than many others at the Palace.

"As Judi Dench returns to a role she first played 20 years ago in Mrs Brown, the unlikely catalyst for Victoria’s late-flowering fascination with the subcontinent is one Abdul Karim (played by Bollywood star Ali Fazal), a low-born local picked from staff at a prison in Agra to present a commemorative coin at a Windsor Castle banquet.

"Initially, it’s his handsome smile that captures the attention of the ageing and lonely monarch, whose welcoming attitude towards this Muslim newcomer contrasts with the outright hostility displayed by many of the royal household. Soon he’s teaching Urdu to the monarch and explaining the wonders of mango chutney, yet it’s the developing emotional bond between handsome servant and isolated widow which makes the film something of a companion piece to 1997’s Mrs Brown, an exploration of another upstairs/downstairs friendship earlier in Victoria’s reign.

"Victoria and Abdul proves a much livelier affair all-round however, thanks to the sly humour with which Stephen Frears’s film highlights the ingrained snobbery of palace routine, and indeed an even more striking performance from Dame Judi." - Radio Times


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