Victoria & Abdul Full movie details, Poster, Star cast, Release date,First Reviews, Promo
Victoria and Abdul movie reviews have been mostly negative with critics calling the Judi Dench and Ali Fazal-starrer a dull affair that feeds off colonial fantasies.
From the time the film was announced, Victoria and Abdul sounded quaint and irresistibly charming. People wanted to know about the queen of the vast British empire and her strange friendship with a commoner, Abdul, from the territory she ruled, India.
He teaches her about the country she knows nothing about, and she is mildly intrigued by India’s exoticism. Veteran actress Judi Dench playing Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal of Fukreyand Bobby Jasoos fame, portraying Abdul, heightened the interest of the film.
Victoria & Abdul is a 2017 biographical comedy-drama film, directed by Stephen Frears and written by Lee Hall. The film is based on the book of same name by Shrabani Basu, and on the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim. An unofficial sequel to the 1997 film Mrs Brown, it stars Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith (in his last film role) and Adeel Akhtar. The film had its world premiere at the 74th Venice Film Festival, and was theatrically released on September 15, 2017 in the United Kingdom and September 22 in the United States. It has grossed over $32 million worldwide.
Abdul Karim, a young prison clerk from Agra, India, is instructed to travel to England for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 (four years after the death of John Brown in Mrs Brown) to give her a symbol of appreciation from British-ruled India. The Queen develops an interest in and later a friendship with Abdul and promotes him to become her Munshi with her as his guardian; she asks him to teach her Urdu and the Qur’an.
Abdul is berated and hated by the Queen’s household and inner circle who treat him with racism, while the Queen treats Abdul as a son; she also invites his wife to come to England. In 1901, the Queen dies and her son, Edward VII, rejects Abdul and his wife, sending them both back to India. It is revealed that Abdul returned to India where he died in 1909. The film ends with Abdul kneeling at a statue of the Queen close to the Taj Mahal and kissing her feet in respect.
- Judi Dench as Queen Victoria
- Ali Fazal as Abdul Karim
- Eddie Izzard as Bertie, Prince of Wales
- Tim Pigott-Smith as Sir Henry Ponsonby
- Adeel Akhtar as Mohammed
- Simon Callow as Mr Puccini
- Michael Gambon as Lord Salisbury
- Julian Wadham as Alick Yorke
- Olivia Williams as Jane Spencer, Baroness Churchill
- Fenella Woolgar as Miss Phipps
- Jonathan Harden as The Kaiser
On June 17, 2016, it was reported that Judi Dench would play Queen Victoria (reprising her role from the 1997 film Mrs Brown) in Victoria & Abdul, a film based on the book of the same name by Shrabani Basu. Stephen Frears was set to direct. On August 5, 2016, it was announced that Ali Fazal would play Victoria’s confidant Abdul Karim, while the film would be co-produced by Working Title Films and BBC Films, and co-financed by BBC and Focus Features. Focus also handles domestic distribution rights, while Universal Pictures International handles all other countries. The script was written by Lee Hall, and the producers are Beeban Kidron, Tracey Seaward, Tim Bevan, and Eric Fellner, while the other cast includes Eddie Izzard, Michael Gambon, Tim Pigott-Smith, and Adeel Akhtar.
Principal photography on the film began on September 15, 2016, at former royal residence Osborne House on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom.
Costumes from the production were on display at Osborne House, from July 24 until September 30, 2017.
Victoria & Abdul was released for audiences in the United Kingdom on September 15, 2017, followed by a U.S. general release on September 22.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 68%, based on 138 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Victoria & Abdul reunites Dame Judi Dench with the role of Queen Victoria — which is all this period drama needs to overcome its imbalanced narrative.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.
Writing for The Independent, Amrou Al-Kadhi was highly critical of the film. He wrote that “Films like Victoria & Abdul seek to absolve our barbaric behaviour in colonised countries.” Al-Kadhi criticised the white-washing of the British Raj and the “offensive two-dimensionality” of Abdul’s character, who is shown kissing the feet of Queen Victoria and expressing his gratitude of being among the “glorious people” of the British Empire.
In The Guardian, Simran Hans described the film as “well-meaning”; however, she was also critical of the depictions of both Abdul and the British Empire. She noted that “The film takes great pains to absolve Victoria of colonial responsibility, painting her, bizarrely, as tolerant and reviled for it.” Hans also wrote that “This kind of historical revisionism is a stretch that, at best, works as a cute royalist fantasy and, at worst, dresses up its endorsement of colonialism and empire as something progressive.” Xan Brooks, writing separately for The Guardian, mocked the attempt to paint Queen Victoria as a “progressive outrider, railing against white racists”, commenting that the director was only prevented from depicting Victoria as “Gandhi and Nehru come early” by historians holding a gun to his head. Brooks concluded that the film, “about the Raj era that looks as if it was made back then”, was “peculiarly dodgy”.
In the Daily Express, film editor and critic Andy Lea rated the film two out of five stars, describing Abdul’s character as “disappointingly servile” and criticising the plot as “decent material for a knockabout farce”, but praising Dench as “predictably brilliant”.
Writing for the Irish Independent, Paul Whitington, who rated the movie two out of five stars, was also critical of the historical revisionism. Whitington wrote that “Victoria And Abduloffers a shamelessly saccharine version of British imperial history and seems to imply that the Raj was a bumbling, genial regime rather than a rapacious foreign occupation. The blandly smiling character of Abdul never achieves three dimensions and Izzard plays Bertie as such a conniving, liverish idiot that one wonders how he ever became such a popular king.”
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