Movie Review: #VictoriaAndAbdul is the Story England is Ashamed to Tell

Movie Review- #VictoriaAndAbdul is the Story England is Ashamed to Tell-2

There are many English men and women who would have wished this story was never told, or better still if the tale is told then let it pass for fiction only.

However, beyond their biases, this rare story of strange friendship that cuts across various divides has found its way from the pages of history to our screens.

The plot is not one which will keep you thinking and trying to guess what happens next, a situation which is typical of every biographical comedy-drama, however, the themes upon which this particular story is hinged, endears the movie to the viewers.

This motion picture is solely based on the book of the same name by Shrabani Basu; it follows the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim.

Its moderately lush cast including Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith and Adeel Akhtar, brings the plot to life.

Perhaps, it is the powerful and convincing act of the actors that saved the script, especially the role of the queen as played by Dench who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for a similar role as Queen Elizabeth I in ‘Shakespeare in Love’.

Dench takes us a bit deeper into the courts of the English Queen, and beyond a tour of the scenery, she shows a vulnerable side that many would not want to identify with the queen mother, however, it is in her humanity and the vulnerability thereof that the strength of this monarch is made beautiful.

While Dench executes to the utmost all that is required of her character, it is Ali Fazal who I believe is the most convincing of all the cast.

One cannot but be persuaded that with such a character as that portrayed by Fazal in the movie, Queen Victoria would have no choice than to literally fall in love with her Munshi, a love that goes from seeming amorous to becoming that between bosom friends and deeper down to that between a mother and her son.

But for the quest to reach a very wide audience, you can tell that Lee Hall’s script was tailored to suit the era in which the story is set, an era in which the drama stage was the best means to convey poignant ideas and thoughts.

One could say Hall had no much to think about in the writing of this script, and I would agree so. I also believe there were extra angles from which Hall could have given the story a different look, however, there was a theme to be sold and the theme superseded every need to be extra creative.

Some of the unexplored angles are the depth of the relationship between Abdul and his ill friend, Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar). One would also have loved to see how the relationship between Victoria an Abdul posed a threat to Abdul’s immediate family.

These little loopholes could easily be forgotten because Stephen Frears would through. It is easy to use technology to make up for lapses in some thriller, fantasy or action movie, but on a drama of this nature, one has to be very careful especially because the era had nothing today with extra advancement in technology.

There were scenes where certain elements were missing, especially in the earlier path of the movie, but the director ensured that as the plot thickened, everyone paid attention to details.

Victoria and Abdul does not totally win at being an emotional drama that will leave many in tears at the theatre, but it weighs in on the theme which is of pertinence in the world even this time in human history.

There are arguments as to the true character of Queen Victoria and her Munshi – Abdul in the contest of the times when the movie was shot.Movie Review- #VictoriaAndAbdul is the Story England is Ashamed to Tell

Some believe that they have been overly painted as saints and that they seem a bit far from their human realities, however, one can tell that the scriptwriter and director were careful as the history of what they were putting together was already highly controversial to a point that upon the monarch’s death in 1901, members of her family, scrubbed his existence from royal history.

Victoria and Abdul have a very powerful message to pass one that is very pertinent for this time in human history, it is the messages and the investigations that led to this movie that makes it a very important film to watch.

Truth be told, this movie will not have you jumping out of your seat, there is nothing much to stun you about the plot, but you must see this movie if you are a lover of history, and if you are one who enjoys details of past events and how they shape future narratives.


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