Friday, December 15, 2017

Victoria & Abdul

Today I saw Victoria & Abdul, starring Dame Judi Dench and Ali Fazal.

Queen Victoria (Dench) made friends with one of her Indian servants, Abdul Karim (Fazal) toward the end of her life and ruffled many feathers in her household.

The film is based on a true story, though the disclaimer at the beginning admits it gets it "mostly" right. Knowing that, I decided just to sit back and enjoy the ride, and I very much did.

Dame Judi Dench, who has played this queen before, has her down pat. Based on how the history books describe the legendary Victoria, she exemplifies the best and worst of her without making her a caricature. Ali Fazal in the role of Abdul is handsome and likable, though probably not quite as arrogant as the real man was.

Their chemistry was real and their pairing unlikely, but the two developed a genuine kinship that so annoyed her family and staff that they burned all of her letters to him upon her passing. What survived was Karim's diary, which was passed down in his family and only revealed to the public in 2010.

Though the content is indisputably light, the story has darker tones of racism and class divisions that absolutely contributed to the controversy surrounding their friendship.

What a shame that so many years later, we still have similar issues.


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