Dame Judi Dench is all set to reprise her iconic role, here are the facts…
What’s it about?
Victoria and Abdul does what it says on the tin; this is the story of the familial relationship between Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim in the final fifteen years of the British monarch’s reign.
Karim was just 24 when, in 1887, he was transported from India to England to serve in court at the Golden Jubilee pomp of Queen Victoria. It did, however, take the new orderly just days, a serving of one his traditional Indian meals, for the young attendant to become a royal favourite.
Given the title ‘Munshi’ (a Persian word for ‘secretary’) by Queen Victoria herself, Karim is said to have taught the ageing Empress (of India) Hindustani, whilst she had him accompany her on all her travels.
The film is based on the book of the same name by Sharabani Basu and will tell its heartfelt tale with a nod too to the friction that such a close relationship caused among Victoria’s family and other attendees.
Who’s in it?
Judi Dench returns to the role of Queen Victoria for the first time since her BAFTA winning turn in Mrs Brown twenty years ago. Whereas in that film Victoria’s unlikely compatriot was Billy Connolly as John Brown, here it is, rising star of Bollywood, Ali Fazal who plays Karim.
Supporting the titular leads, Eddie Izzard plays Edward VII, the then Prince of Wales, with Michael Gambon as Lord Salisbury and the late Tim Pigott-Smith – in his final performance – as Sir Henry Ponsonby.
Olivia Williams, Fenella Woolgar and Simon Callow help complete a starry ensemble cast.
Who’s made it?
No stranger to Royal biopics, Stephen Frears directs Victoria and Abdul, having tackled The Queen in 2006. Frears is familiar too with Dench, having directed 2013’s Philomena; whilst last year’s Florence Foster Jenkins rounds off a terrific triumvirate of films telling the stories of great women in history in his CV.
Billy Elliot and War Horse writer, Lee Hall is behind the screenplay, with the multi-award-winning composer Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo, American Beauty) on the score and The King’s Speech‘s Danny Cohen in charge of cinematography.
All in all, a very promising production team.
When’s it out?
Victoria and Abdul is set to premiere at Toronto Film Festival this September, swiftly followed by a UK release on September 15. The US release is a week later on September 22.
Watch the trailer here: