Victoria and Abdul is a biographical historical drama film about the relationship between Queen Victoria and her Indian cleric, Abdul Karim. Although I am not a history buff, I understand that Abdul’s relationship with the Queen was not universally loved as findings of his existence were only unearthed about 50 years ago.
Abdul Karim played by Ali Fazal is shipped (literally) to England to help present a gift to Her Majesty on behalf of the people of India and finds himself in an unlikely friendship with her royal highness. Although from different walks of life, I found the chemistry between characters Abdul Karim and Queen Victoria vibrant, endearing and very natural. Dame Judi Dench is colossal in this film. Her acting is always superb and effortless, but she is particularly incredible in this performance as she portrays Queen Victoria as vulnerable yet feisty, triumphant yet broken, weak yet strong. Impressive is an understatement.
I also thoroughly enjoyed Ali Fazal’s performance as Abdul. His portrayal was innocent, genuine, kind, loyal and tolerant. Ali Fazal’s acting spoke volumes even when he didn’t have lines. The way Abdul carried himself, his posture and seeing him around the Queen when he was not alone felt invasive, uncomfortable and sometimes frightening.
I found the prejudice and racial discrimination towards Abdul in the film to be quite disgusting and still relevant to today. It made me so mad but also surprised with just how forward-thinking Queen Victoria was for the period she was in. Victoria and Abdul made me feel all the emotions, swept me off my feet and broke my heart to the point that I was in tears. I truly believe this film is one of the best acting pieces I have seen in years. It has an in-depth plot, detailed costumes and wonderful acting. Even if you don’t know much about history, it is totally worth seeing sassy Judi Dench kill it in all her talented glory.