Taglines: Based on an extraordinary true story.
Abdul Karim, a young prison clerk from Agra, India, is instructed to travel to England for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 to present her with a mohur, a gold coin which has been minted as a token of appreciation from British-ruled India.
The Queen, who is lonely and tired of her fawning courtiers, develops an interest in and later a friendship with Abdul. She spends time with him alone, and promotes him to become her Munshi as his guardian. She asks him to teach her Urdu and the Qur’an. When Victoria discovers that he is married, she invites his wife and mother-in-law to join him to England. They arrive wearing black Burqas, to the consternation of the household.
While Victoria treats Abdul as a son, his preferment is resented by her household and inner circle, including her son Bertie and the Prime Minister. The household plots to undermine their relationship, hoping that Abdul will be sent home. When Victoria embarrasses herself by recounting to the court the one-sided account of the Indian Mutiny that Abdul had told her, Victoria’s faith and trust in him are shaken and she decides he must go home. But the following day she changes her mind and asks him to stay. She gives Abdul a bejewelled locket with her photograph.
Victoria’s interest in India grows, and at her Isle of Wight home of Osborne House, she has the Durbar Room built for state functions, elaborately decorated with carvings by Bhai Ram Singh in an intricate style, and with a carpet from Agra. She hangs portraits of Indians in the House. She tells the household that she intends to give Abdul a knighthood.
The Prime Minister is adamant that the royal household must find a way to get rid of Abdul. They research his family background in India, and present Victoria with a dossier to show that his family is more ordinary and poor than Abdul has told her. When Victoria insists her doctor examine Abdul to find out why his wife has not fallen pregnant, he discovers that Abdul has gonorrhea, and rushes to tell the Queen, expecting her to dismiss him in disgust. However, Victoria remains loyal to Abdul and admonishes her courtiers for plotting against him.
Victoria & Abdul is a 2017 British biographical comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Lee Hall. The film is based on the book of same name by Shrabani Basu, about the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim. An unofficial sequel to the 1997 film Mrs Brown, it stars Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith and Adeel Akhtar.
The film had its world premiere at the 74th Venice Film Festival, and was theatrically released on 15 September 2017 in the United Kingdom and 22 September 2017 in the United States. It has grossed over $65 million worldwide. The film was nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 90th Academy Awards, and Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (for Dench) at the 75th Golden Globe Awards.
Victoria and Abdul (2017)
Directed by: Stephen Frears
Starring: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Eddie Izzard, Adeel Akhtar, Paul Higgins, Michael Gambon, Olivia Williams, Fenella Woolgar, Julian Wadham, Robin Soans, Ruth McCabe, Simon Callow, Kemaal Deen-Ellis
Screenplay by: Lee Hall
Production Design by: Alan MacDonald
Cinematography by: Danny Cohen
Film Editing by: Melanie Oliver
Costume Design by: Consolata Boyle
Art Direction by: Sarah Finlay, Choi Ho Man, Adam Squires
Music by: Thomas Newman
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some thematic elements and language.
Distributed by: Focus Features (US), Universal Pictures (UK)
Release Date: September 15, 2017 (United Kingdom)