Friends for life

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Oct 2017 12:24:31


Subhash K. Jha,

Victoria & Abdul, about Queen Victoria befriending Indian servant Abdul Karim, seems to have offended Indian critics for not taking into view the ugliness of the British Raj. Actor Ali Fazal, who is a bit baffled by the backlash, says he has formed an enduring friendship with iconic actress Judi Dench.

Ali, who is shooting for Mirzapur in Varanasi and turned a year older recently, said, “What is the fuss about? Abdul is a character I play. And everything he does in the film including kissing the Queen’s feet actually happened. I’ve read the real Abdul Karim’s letters to Queen Victoria. They are simply wonderful, truly inspiring. I was very moved by his devotion to the Queen.”

Ali feels it’s wrong to impute colonial responsibilities on his role and performance. “We are all responsible actors. I take full responsibility for my performances. But the behaviour or political leanings of my characters are not in my hands. As far as I can see, Abdul is a bit of an opportunist. He sees the Queen as a means to climb socially. And what is wrong with that?

“We all want to move upwards in life. But I also know Abdul cared deeply for Queen Victoria... And to my good fortune, I’ve formed a relationship with Judi Dench, which I hope is enduring as the one we share in the film.”

Ali feels both Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim were misunderstood by their contemporaries and are being misread by a section of the audience. “All he ever wanted was to make her happy. And she found an impetus to live through him in her dying years. “We were together a lot of time not just while shooting but also while promoting the film. I saw how much affection and warmth she showered on me in our international interactions. It kind of affected me deeply.”