Victoria & Abdul
by Tony Medley
Runtime 119 minutes.
Apparently aging, obese Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) had the hots for a
studley young Indian clerk, Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), called “Munshi”
which means teacher. This was ostensibly a well-kept secret until 2001
Shrabani Basu was researching a book
on the history of curry. She found that Queen Victoria loved eating
curry so she visited Osbourne house on the Isle of Wight, which was a
getaway for the Queen, and spotted several portraits of a handsome young
Muslim Indian man.
In 2006 she visited the Queen’s Castle in Balmoral Scotland and
discovered a house that Victoria had built for Abdul, called Karim
Cottage. This raised her antennae and she discovered the relationship
that hitherto had been successfully buried. The result was her book,
“Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant,”
which has been made into this film by director Stephen Frears from a
script by Lee Hall.
24-year-old Abdul had gone to London to present a ceremonial medal for
the celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, at which time
Queen Victoria was 68 years old and was immediately attracted to him.
This is that tale, as the elderly Queen lusts after the young Indian.
Victoria’s household, led by her son, Bertie (Eddie Izzard), the future King Edward
VII, but then the Prince of Wales, railed and schemed against the
relationship in general and Munshi in particular.
this is a well told, eye-opening story, it is can be slow in parts. The
acting is very good, as is the ambience created by the production
design (Alan MacDonald).