Stephen Frears reteams with Judi Dench for Victoria and Abdul
by Naman Ramachandran
- Working Title producing alongside BBC films with financing from Focus Features
UPDATE (12 August 2016): Indian actor Ali Fazal will play the role of Abdul. Fazal's credits include 3 Idiots, Furious Seven and The Other End of the Line.
Celebrated British director Stephen Frears, whose Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant starrer Florence Foster Jenkins [+see also:
film profile] is currently on UK release has reteamed with Judi Dench for Victoria and Abdul. The film tells the true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s rule. When Abdul Karim, a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favour with the Queen. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and reclaims her humanity.
Karim replaced John Brown as Queen Victoria’s confidante. The relationship between Brown and the Queen was chronicled in John Madden’s Mrs Brown with Dench essaying the role of Victoria and she won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for it. Dench won a supporting actress Oscar for playing another Queen, Elizabeth, in Madden’s Shakespeare in Love. Dench has previously worked with Frears on Mrs Henderson Presents and Philomena [+see also:
interview: Stephen Frears
Lee Hall, who won the BIFA screenplay award for Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot and was BAFTA and Oscar nominated for it, has written the screenplay for Victoria and Abdul based on Shrabani Basu’s book Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant. Hall developed the script at Cross Street Films along with writer/director Beeban Kidron who is best known for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Working Title is producing alongside BBC Films with co-financing from Focus Features, who will also distribute in the US. Universal Pictures will handle worldwide distribution.
The film will go into production later this year and release in 2017. The actor playing Karim has not been announced yet.