Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

An Unlikely Friendship; Indian Actor Teaches Screen Royalty Judi Dench

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

An Unlikely Friendship; Indian Actor Teaches Screen Royalty Judi Dench

Article excerpt

Victoria and Abdul

Stars: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Olivia Williams, Michael Gambon, Tim Pigott-Smith.

Director: Stephen Frears

Rating: TBA

Reviewer's last word: This charming film doesn't delve too deeply into the political issues of the time, instead it zeroes in on an unlikely friendship nearly lost to history. Judi Dench, as Queen Victoria, delivers another powerhouse performance.

Star profile: Ali Fazal

Quirky fact: Graduated with a degree in economics from St Xaviers, Mumbai.

Best known for: Fast & Furious 7, 3 Idiots, Bang Baaja Baaraat.

If you like this movie you'll like these: The Queen, Philomena, Mrs Brown.

Quote: "Half of the job is done when you have a good story. Follow your punctuation marks and half of your acting is done."

SCREEN LIFE

with Seanna Cronin

THE lines of British royalty and screen royalty blurred for Ali Fazal on the set of Victoria and Abdul. The Indian actor stars opposite Judi Dench, who reprises her role as Queen Victoria in this sequel of sorts to 1997's Mrs Brown.

The film tells the extraordinary true story of an unexpected friendship between Queen Victoria and a young clerk, who travels from India to present her with a ceremonial coin during her Golden Jubilee.

"I didn't know (Judi) was doing it when I first auditioned for the film," Ali tells Weekend.

"When I recorded my first two scenes, I thought it was better that way. I've always been a fan - we've all been fans - and the thought would have been intimidating itself. But on the contrary, when I met her it was so wonderful."

Amidst the pomp and ceremony of the jubilee, the fresh-faced and chatty Abdul Karim is a breath of fresh air for the aging, lonely monarch.

"I got a sense of this wonderful little spiritual thing about these two," he says.

"What attracted her to him was that he spoke out of turn yet he spoke the truth. Nobody around her would ever say it - they would just follow protocol. They intellectually stimulated each other; they spoke to each other about everything. I thought it was a wonderful thing to see this young man climb this ladder of success in the middle of this chaos. …

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