Sometimes, friendship can be struck between two least expected people, in the most unexpected circumstances.
But that is the beauty of the relationship…it goes beyond all prejudice and makes one its own.
Directed by Stephen Frears and written by Lee Hall, ‘Victoria & Abdul’ consolidates this very belief. The film was first released in 2017, and speaks about the unusual friendship between one of the world’s most powerful monarchs and an Indian servant .
Abdul, a lowborn Muslim whose job is to document the names of prisoners in Indian jail finds himself entrusted with an important responsibility. He is one of the two Indians that are chosen to travel to England to present a ‘mohur’ to the queen. Even before the ceremony is over, he manages to make a good first impression, owing to which the queen appoints him her personal security. Impressed by his sensitive nature and vast knowledge of the Quran, she further appoints him as her ‘Munshi’. Thus begins an unique camaraderie that is not understood by all, one that is constantly under speculation and suspicion by the royal family and company.
Both, Victoria and Abdul, have one trait in common
…they are both thirsty for knowledge.
There are a couple of scenes that explain beautifully how persons of power and responsibility have their own cross to bear—-how they are always accompanied by a certain lack of personal freedom.
Yet, the Queen finds a way to fulfil her yearning to see the world (and especially India)—-through Abdul’s eyes. Abdul too is introduced to the grandiose lifestyle which he has, until then imagined only in his dreams. Gradually earning each other’s trust and affection, this symbiotic relationship helps them only grow into better versions of themselves.
Based on real life happenings, ‘Victoria and Abdul’ compelled me to dig deeper into the history of England, the 1857 mutiny, and the period that saw Queen Victoria as a sovereign. It also got me curious and google about John Brown, a name that is mentioned in fleeting …
All in all, a sensitive film on friendship that breaks down the barrier of age and nationality and connects people only from the heart.
‘Victoria & Abdul’ was nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Actress In A Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy at the 90th Academy Awards, (for Dench) at the 75th Golden Globe Awards.
It is available for viewing on Netflix.