Victoria and Abdul

Courtesy: Bloomsbury India

Read this in about 3 minutes

It was a great Diwali week. While I managed to finish Brunelleschi’s Dome it was the first book based completely on architecture that I have read which is not a my study course book. I completely loved the one. Ross has a gift. But let’s go back little. I said it was a great beginning because I received an amazing gift! Bloomsbury India sent five bloggers (including me) tickets to watch Victoria and Abdul in theatres. What more could a history buff have asked for!

Victoria and Abdul

The movie is based on a book bearing the same name authored by Shrabani Basu. The book is an account of an extraordinary friendship. One between an empress and her mere servant. Queen Victoria was morbidly fat and lonely woman who craved for a genuine relationship all her life after the death of her beloved husband, Albert. Bearing nine children and having an entire household around her Victoria was still very lonely.

The movie opens with a scene in India where Abdul receives an order to travel to India and present a medal or Mohar to the queen of England and empress of India. Abdul finds it to be great honour and sets sail immediately. There is a slight hiccup though. There were supposed to be two of them of similar height but somehow the other man falls off an elephant at the last minute and a shorter guy has to accompany the Abdul. The movie begins with hilarious instances where the two men embark on a journey to meet the queen. The men find the English ways strange where both of them are called ‘the Hindus’ and the queen they should no meet eyes with is hardly regal.

Following are the scenes that deserve an ovation:

  1. When the little insecurities of Indians were portrayed in the movie. Two friends talking about English food containing sheep’s brain and pig’s blood.
  2. Victoria at the dining table at a formal lunch right in the beginning of the movie. Victoria enters the movie and sits on the dining table to be fed, constantly gobbling the food in front of her. The co-eaters are left hungry while plates of dishes replace one after the other in the dining room drama. Judy Dench at her best!
  3. The first picnic Victoria and Abdul take together and Victoria’s confession of an pointless life where the Queen implies that it was an extreme distress that those she loved and those that loved her have come and gone by but there she is going on and on and on. It was one of the many emotional moments in the book where one could feel the dread inside the queen. Abdul saves Victoria while talking about the importance of ‘Service’ and he did not seem to know it.
  4. Abdul being promoted to being the official ‘Munshi’. Him teaching Victoria Urdu – the language of the royals.
  5. The presentation of mango and outright rejection by the queen saying its off! The scene was innocently funny.
  6. When the future King threatens to declare the Queen of England insane and she breathes fire on the household.

Depiction of Victoria could not have been more epic. Judy Dench plays Victoria with amazing precision. Abdul strikes a chord with Victoria with his foreignness and ability to appease. The first half of the movie will keep your eyes glued to the screen. Both the actors in the movie are best at what they do. However, the second half of the book could not be saved by either of the talents. The second half of the movie fell flat. It became monotone and died eventually.

I enjoyed the movie nevertheless. It is definitely worth a watch for all the history lovers and those who enjoy great acting. I also got to meet two amazing bloggers in the meet. It was a great experience! Thank you Bloomsbury for making it memorable.

I intend to get my hands on the book soon!

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com