Six reasons why you need to see Victoria & Abdul on the big screen this weekend
Queen Victoria was famous for not being amused, but you will be by this smart, funny and touching tale, based on real events. Here’s why you ought to book your tickets to Victoria & Abdul, now.
1. It’s based on a true story?
We don’t know about you, but we love the wide-eyed ‘whaaaat?’ feeling we get whenever a gripping, utterly entertaining film reveals itself to be based on real events. So it is with Victoria & Abdul. Adapted from Shrabni Basu’s book of the same name, it dramatises the true-life friendship that blossomed between the ageing Queen Victoria, and Abdul Karim, a young Indian man sent to be her attendant during her Golden Jubilee year in 1887. Given the title ‘Munshi’ (Urdu for clerk or teacher) by the Queen, Karim’s presence in the royal household gave Vicky a new lease on life, while creating waves among her family and other servants. If that’s not an intriguing set up, we don’t know what is…
2. It stars Dame Judi ‘national treasure’ Dench
Aside from being one of our finest actresses, most people’s definitive ‘M’ in the Bond-iverse, and a talented (if underrated) comedian, Dame Judi Dench also has some serious form playing British monarchs. She won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1998 for her pitch-perfect turn as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love, and memorably played Queen Victoria in 1997’s Mrs Brown. Which kind of makes this a sequel. Either way, this is a role that only Dame Judi could do justice, and she is brilliant, her Queen Vic by turns thunderous, vulnerable and utterly watchable.
3. It’s directed by the brilliant Stephen Frears
Can’t put your finger on how you know Stephen Frears’ name? Allow us to fill in the gaps. Frears is a veteran director with the kind of diverse and high quality films to his name that all but guarantee an amazing big-screen experience. My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters, High Fidelity, and Philomena – he helmed them all. What’s more, he also directed the incredibly accomplished The Queen, starring Helen Mirren. With Victoria & Abdul, Frears once again brings out the compelling humanity in a monarch who is both a symbol, a ruler and a woman.
4. It blends humour and drama like royalty
We’ve mentioned the drama surrounding the real Abdul Karim’s place in Queen Victoria’s affections during her twilight years, but Victoria & Abdul is anything but a dry, period piece. It’s moving, yes; it’s full of drama, yes; but thanks to a witty and smart script by renowned playwright and screenwriter, Lee Hall (Billy Elliott, 2005’s Pride & Prejudice, and War Horse to name a handful of highlights), plus a stellar cast all on top form, it’s peppered with great moments of comedy.
5. It deserves to be seen on the big screen
While the relationships at the heart of this charming film are intimate, the stage upon which they play out is anything but. From the epic vistas of India to the sumptuous surroundings of the Royal Court, Victoria & Abdul is a film that rewards the big-screen viewer with colour, detail and superb production values throughout. This is definitely not one to keep for small-screen catch-up.
6. It’s got ‘awards season’ darling all over it
Take all of the above and you have a film that’s destined to make waves when the new year’s awards season kicks off. Don’t wait until then to discover Victoria & Abdul – book tickets now and be the first of your friends to discover one of the films of the year.
Victoria and Abdul - About the film
'Victoria And Abdul’ chronicles the unlikely true story of the friendship between Queen Victoria and a young Indian clerk called Abdul, who had travelled to England for the Golden Jubilee.
He’d expected to wait tables, but found himself working as Victoria’s personal attendant. Within a year, he had become a powerful figure at court; but their controversial friendship nearly led to a revolt in the royal household.
A true story of a friendship that survived every attempt to destroy it, ‘Victoria And Abdul’ sees Judi Dench reprise the role of Queen Victoria, 20 years after first playing her in ‘Mrs Brown’.