Victoria & Abdul
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Victoria & Abdul is a 2017 British biographical historical drama film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Lee Hall. The film is based on the book of the same name by Shrabani Basu, about the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim. It stars Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith (in his final film role), and Adeel Akhtar. The film had its world premiere at the 74th Venice Film Festival, and was theatrically released on 15 September 2017 in the United Kingdom. It has grossed over $65 million worldwide.

The film was nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the 90th Academy Awards, and Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (for Dench) at the 75th Golden Globe Awards.


Abdul Karim, a young prison clerk from British India, is instructed to travel to Britain for Queen Victoria s Golden Jubilee in 1887 to present her with a mohur, a gold coin that has been minted as a token of appreciation from British-ruled India. Abdul is from a Muslim, Urdu-speaking family in Agra, India.

The Queen, lonely and tired of her fawning courtiers, develops an interest in and then a friendship with Abdul. She spends time with him alone and gives him a bejewelled locket with her photograph. She promotes him to be her Munshi and asks him to teach her Urdu and the Quran. She in fact learns Urdu for 13 years. When Victoria discovers he is married, she has him bring his wife to England. His wife and his mother-in-law both wear black burqas, much to the consternation of the household—and the fascination of Victoria.

As Victoria s interest in India grows, she has the Durbar Room built at her Isle of Wight home of Osborne House for state functions. It is elaborately and intricately decorated, with a carpet from Agra, formal portraits of renowned Indians, a replica of the Peacock Throne and carvings by Bhai Ram Singh.

While Victoria treats Abdul as a son, his preferment is resented by her household and inner circle, including her son, Bertie, and the prime minister, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil. The household plots to undermine their relationship, hoping that Abdul will be sent home. When Victoria embarrasses herself by recounting Abdul s one-sided account of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 to the court, Victoria s faith and trust in him are shaken. She decides he must return to India, but soon changes her mind and asks him to stay.

The prime minister is adamant that the royal household must be rid of Abdul. They research his family background in India and present Victoria with a dossier showing that his family is more ordinary and poor than Abdul claimed. When Victoria insists that her doctor examine Abdul to learn why his wife has not become pregnant, he discovers that Abdul has gonorrhea. He expects the Queen will dismiss Abdul in disgust, but Victoria remains loyal to him and admonishes her courtiers for plotting against him. She announces her intention to give Abdul a knighthood.

Eventually, the household decides that Victoria must break with Abdul. If not, they all will resign and certify Victoria as insane. When Victoria is told, she angrily summons the entire household and demands that anyone who wants to resign step forward. When no-one does, she says she has decided against making Abdul a knight. She will instead include him in her next honours list as a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

When Victoria falls ill, she urges Abdul to return to India while she can still protect him and warns him that the court will turn on him after her death. Abdul insists that he will stay until her death. In 1901, Victoria dies, and her son, Bertie, now Edward VII, rejects Abdul, burning all the gifts and papers from the Queen, and sending him and his family back to India. Abdul s wife saves the locket Victoria gave him.

It is revealed that Abdul lived in India until his death eight years later in 1909. The film ends with Abdul kneeling at a large statue of Queen Victoria close to the Taj Mahal, talking to it and kissing its feet in respect.


The cast includes:

  • Ali Fazal as Abdul Karim
  • Judi Dench as Queen Victoria
  • Tim Pigott-Smith as Henry Ponsonby
  • Eddie Izzard as Albert, Prince of Wales
  • Adeel Akhtar as Mohammad Bakhsh
  • Michael Gambon as Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
  • Paul Higgins as Sir James Reid, 1st Baronet
  • Olivia Williams as Jane Spencer, Baroness Churchill
  • Fenella Woolgar as Harriet Phipps
  • Julian Wadham as Alick Yorke
  • Robin Soans as Arthur Bigge, 1st Baron Stamfordham
  • Simon Callow as Giacomo Puccini
  • Simon Paisley Day as Mr Tyler
  • Amani Zardoe as Princess Helena of the United Kingdom
  • Sophie Trott as Sophia of Prussia
  • Penny Ryder as Sophie of the Netherlands
  • Joe Caffrey as Sous Chef
  • Tim McMullan as Tailor
  • Jonathan Harden as Wilhelm II, German Emperor
  • John Rowe as Head Waiter


On 17 June 2016, it was reported that Judi Dench would play Queen Victoria in Victoria & Abdul, a film based on the book of the same name by Shrabani Basu. Stephen Frears was set to direct. Dench had also portrayed Victoria in the 1997 film Mrs Brown, to which this film has been described as an unofficial sequel. On 5 August 2016, it was announced that Ali Fazal would play Victoria s confidant Abdul Karim, while the film would be co-produced by Working Title Films and BBC Films, and co-financed by BBC and Focus Features. Focus also handles U.S. distribution rights, while Universal Pictures International handles all other countries. The script was written by Lee Hall, and the producers are Beeban Kidron, Tracey Seaward, Tim Bevan, and Eric Fellner, while the other cast includes Eddie Izzard, Michael Gambon, Tim Pigott-Smith, and Adeel Akhtar.

Principal photography began on 15 September 2016, at Victoria s former royal residence Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

Costumes from the production were on display at Osborne House from 24 July until 30 September 2017. To capitalize on the renewed interest in Victoria arising from both the film and the concurrent second series of ITV s Victoria television series, the Isle of Wight Tourist Board has created a Victoria s Island Trail encouraging tourists to visit the key locations on the island that have connections to the Queen.

The production also filmed at Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent, on HMS Gannet and the quayside adjacent to the ship.


Victoria & Abdul was released for audiences in the United Kingdom on 15 September 2017.


Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 66% based on 199 reviews, with an average rating of 6.10/10. The site s critical consensus reads, Victoria & Abdul reunites Dame Judi Dench with the role of Queen Victoria – which is all this period drama needs to overcome its imbalanced narrative. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 58 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating mixed or average reviews.

In the Women s Voices for Change, Alexandra MacAaron, who rated the movie eight out of ten, wrote that Judi Dench s Oscar-worthy second turn as Queen Victoria is a poignant portrait of fading power and human connection. Christopher Orr s response from The Atlantic was positive, and he wrote Victoria & Abdul is worth seeing for Dench s magisterial performance and for Frears s light but sure directorial touch. Just don t mistake it for actual history.

Writing for NPR, Ella Taylor described the film as a strange hybrid of a movie also a gentle love story with no possibility of an upbeat ending , though she praised the script as being bold . In an article for The Independent, Amrou Al-Kadhi criticised the film s depiction of Abdul for its offensive two-dimensionality .

In the Daily Express, critic Andy Lea rated the film two out of five, describing Abdul s character as disappointingly servile and criticising the plot as decent material for a knockabout farce, but praising Dench as predictably brilliant. In his 4-out-of-4-rated review, Rex Reed in the New York Observer wrote: Judi Dench gives a touching, majestic performance and, complimenting the script and direction, he said that every scene is gorgeous to look at, every shot magnificently detailed and richly framed. And the exemplary performances are as good as it gets in movies today.


Year Award/Festival Category Nominee(s) Result
2017 26th Heartland Film Festival Truly Moving Picture Award Stephen Frears Won
21st Hollywood Film Awards Hollywood Film Composer Award Thomas Newman Won
2018 7th AACTA International Awards Best Actress Judi Dench Nominated
75th Golden Globe Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
24th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Nominated
38th London Film Critics Circle Awards British/Irish Actress of the Year Nominated
17th AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Actress Nominated
22nd Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Lee Hall Nominated
Best Costume Design Consolata Boyle Nominated
15th Irish Film & Television Awards Best Costume Design Won
90th Academy Awards Best Costume Design Nominated
Best Makeup and Hairstyling Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard Nominated
71st British Academy Film Awards Best Makeup and Hair Nominated

Year 2017
ReleaseDate 2017-10-06
RuntimeMins 111
RuntimeStr 1h 51min
Plot Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.
Awards Nominated for 2 Oscars, 3 wins & 13 nominations total
Directors Stephen Frears
Writers Lee Hall, Shrabani Basu
Stars Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Tim Pigott-Smith
Produced by Tim Bevan,Liza Chasin,Eric Fellner,Amelia Granger,Lee Hall,Beeban Kidron,Christine Langan,Joe Oppenheimer,Pravesh Sahni,Tracey Seaward,Lucas Webb
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography by Danny Cohen
Film Editing by Melanie Oliver
Casting By Leo Davis,Lissy Holm
Production Design by Alan Macdonald
Art Direction by Sarah Finlay,Choi Ho Man,Adam Squires
Costume Design by Consolata Boyle
Makeup Department Johann Arora,Beverley Binda,Jeanette Brown,Anita Burger,Holly Caddy,Andrea Cracknell,Sally Crawshaw,Xavier Peter D’Souza,Sula Loizou,Joyce Luize,Marilyn MacDonald,Ray Marston,Adam James Phillips,Daniel Phillips,Chloë Pyne,Tapio Salmi,Loulia Sheppard,Kamlesh U. Shinde,Emma Tomlinson,Maddie White,Amie Wilson,Isobel Donald,Ann Fenton,Helen Masters,Tony Stasi,Sinead Sweeney,Chiara Ugolini,Louise Young
Production Management Tania Blunden,Samantha Knox-Johnston,Rajeev Mehra,Louis Phillips,Pranav Sahni,Rakesh Singh
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Udayan Baijal,Rory Broadfoot,Sekani Doram,Gouri Dutt,Olivia Lloyd,Jayant Rao,Deborah Saban,Manhar Shaheed,Mohit Silswal,Krishan Pratap Singh,Amar Vaswani
Art Department Christopher Arnold,Rosie Austin-Webster,David Bayliss,Nat Bocking,Mary Buri,Alison Clements,Laura Conway-Gordon,Marcia Doyle,Manali Gavankar,Cat Gold,Clare Holland,Simon Hutchings,India Jaques,Gary Jobber,Robin Jones,Constantine Katsaras,Nigel Kirk,Celia Learmonth,Darren Lyttle,Tom Macken,Jonathan Maris,Dan Marsden,Michael McNally,Neil McNally,Laura Mickiewicz,Campbell Mitchell,Lara Murray,Chris Rosser,Terry Royce,Chris Seddon,Mark Stevenson-Ellis,Paul Stewart,Rebecca Thomas,Joe Vassallo,Stephanie Christina Webb,Matthew Wood,Collette Creary-Myers
Sound Department Hugo Adams,Jennifer Annor,Dafydd Archard,George Atkins,Mike Dowson,Oliver Ferris,Sue Harding,Sophia Hardman,Phil Lee,Peter Lindsay,Racchit Malhotra,Adam Mendez,Kate Morath,Darryl Peat,Becki Ponting,Lee Sharp,Jason Stevens,Michael Lee Taylor,Max Walsh,Ian Wilson,Mhairi Wyles-Lang
Special Effects by Adrian Bennett,Peter Kersey,Nick Liggit,Alister Reynolds,Chris Reynolds,Massimo Vico
Visual Effects by Andrea Aceto,Javier Argente,Olivia Beresford,Sinéad Cronin,Viviane Dall’Agnol,Amy Denny-Guerin,Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent,Tiago Faria,Emanuele Farnesi,Edd Gamlin,Adam Gascoyne,Attila Gasparetz,Jacob Green,Alexander Ha,Jason M. Halverson,Zafar Janjua,Lindsey Lo Presti,Rodney J. McFall,Evelyn Minango,Dillan Nicholls,Paul O’Hara,Noel O’Malley,Claire Pegorier,Iain Read,James Roberts,Anna Samuel,Jamie Schumacher,Cristina Serreli,Noga Alon Stein,Ben Wilson,Lewis Wright,Luca Zappala,Callum Mcnulty,Jose Alberto Pino
Stunts Julian Spencer,Sam Stefan
Camera and Electrical Department Ben Adefarasin,Karambiah Appaya,Anthony Bagley,Andrew Banwell,Danny Brennan,Ben Brown,Francesca Catalano Kiddo,Hiren B. Chaudhary,Adam Coles,Matt Coulter,Simon Dunn,Alex Finlayson,Ross Grimshaw,Oliver Hadlow-Martin,Garry Hedges,Melanie Jansen,Hannah Jell,Peter Keith,Will Kendal,Gary Lambert,Iain MacKay,Paul McGeachan,Aaron Montgomery,Alex Mott,Peter Mountain,Dean Murray,Jake Polonsky,Terry Robb,Ramesh Sadrani,Korsshan Schlauer,Hashrat Shah,Oliver Smith,James Starr,Simon Tanner,Michael Wacker
Casting Department Vanessa Baker,Raj Bhansali,Karan Mally,Sanjeev Maurya,Yash Mehta,Dadina Sagger,Nandini Shrikent
Costume and Wardrobe Department Fiona Barty,Nina Bertolone,Viveene Campbell,Jenni Carvell,Dee Churchfield,Sally Crees,Bethany Cross,Bobbie Edwards,Johanna Elf,Johanna Garrad,Yannick Gondran,Rosie Grant,Mike Hodge,Stephanie Laing,Sophie Lambe,Jane Law,Maia Herzog Lee,Bharat Mandekar,Riyaz Ali Merchant,Lizzie Moul,Selene Pearson,Francis Ponisi,Bonnie Radcliffe,Lorraine Sibanda,Maria Smith,Annie Sulzberger,Poonam Thanki,Cecile Van Dijk,Wyn Vaughan-Humphreys,Marion Weise
Editorial Department Sara Buxton,Maria Chamberlain,Ryan Colligan,Tom Corbett,Georgina Cranmer,Karolina Dziwinska,Rob Farris,Adam Glasman,Neil Harrison,Lawrence Hook,Edward Johns,Patrick Malone,Jeanna Mortimer,Alexander Phillips,Finlay Reid,Shaun Richards,Daniel Tomlinson,Laurent Treherne,Russell White,Robert Scammell
Location Management David Bell,Anurag Biwal,Rona Bradley,Florence Cleverdon,Daragh Coghlan,Jeremy DeCoursey,Annabel Dyer,Damian Edwards,Calum Green,Nathan Harp,Simon Lam,Jack Leary,Akram Malik,Stephen Parker,Ashton Radcliffe,Jamaica Radcliffe,Adam Richards,Melisa Rodop,Kristian Turnbull,Joel FitzPatrick
Music Department Anthony Adie,John Anderson,Roger Argente,Christian Barraclough,Fenella Barton,Bill Bernstein,Mark Berrow,Richard Berry,Natalia Bonner,Thomas Bowes,John Bradbury,Martin Burgess,Nick Carpenter,Corinne Chapelle,Paul Clarvis,Nick Cooper,Andrew Crowley,Philip D’Arcy,Caroline Dale,Ralph De Souza,Sue Dench,George Doering,Philip Eastop,Paul Edmund-Davies,Cathy Elliott,Karen Elliott,Melissa Favell-Wright,Gillian Findlay,Clare Finnimore,Dave Gordon,Kathy Gowers,Chris Graves,Gillianne Haddow,Tom Hankey,Jackie Hartley,Martin Humby,Philippa Ibbotson,Garfield Jackson,Katherine Jenkinson,Matt Jones,Helen Kamminga,Skaila Kanga,Patrick Kiernan,Paul Kimber,Julia Knight,Joely Koos,Boguslav Kostecki,Peter Lale,Oli Langford,Julian Leaper,Kieran Leonard,Tony Lewis,Roger Linley,Martin Loveday,Beatrix Lovejoy,Lorne MacDougall,Steve Mair,Dorina Markoff-McNulty,Andy Marshall,Robert Maslin,Vicky Matthews,Paul Mayes,Lorriane McAslan,Gerard McCann,Shinnosuke Miyazawa,Perry Montague-Mason,Steve Morris,Everton Nelson,Mark Nightingale,Martin Owen,Andy Parker,Kathryn Parry,Tom Pigott Smith,Debbie Preece,Richard Pryce,J.A.C. Redford,Simon Rhodes,Frank Ricotti,Tim Rodier,Steve Rossell,Thomas Rudd,Mary Scully,Anoushka Shankar,Emlyn Singleton,Owen Slade,Sonia Slany,Gareth Small,Jonathan Strange,Jill Streater,Paul Sutton,Julian Tear,Cathy Thompson,Chris Tombling,David Vines,Allen Walley,Richard Watkins,Bruce White,Debbie Widdup,Jonathan Williams,Andrew Wood,Chris Worsey,Warren Zielinski,Rachel Bolt
Script and Continuity Department Sue Hills
Transportation Department Glyn Alderson,Marius Badoiu,Allan Bradshaw,Grant Burns,Stuart Clayson,Paul Deluce,Simon Dennis,Paul Howitt,Lee Isgar,Declan Lambert,Paul Mahoney,Jeni Meredith,Darren Burgess,Chris Nuttall
Additional Crew Glyn Alderson,John Alfred,Pip Ayers,Veronica Barnett,Jacqui Barr,Shrabani Basu,Ankita Batra,James Baudouy,Ganesh Singh Bist,Kriss TheDish Brown,Faz Buffery,India Castle-Gibb,Jami Chan,Malcolm Cheatle,Matt Curtis,Martin Davies-Redgrave,Chris De Clerk,Nilesh Deolekar,Jim Dines,Linda Drew,Victoria Endacott,Nick J. Evan-Cook,James Excell,India Flint,Catherine Francis,Rebecca Gibson,Lois Gration,Nancy Gryspeerdt,Sofia Guiotto,Jim Hajicosta,William Ings,Bethan John,Kennie Jones,Luke Keeley,Sheerin Khosrowshahi-Miandoab,Rachel King,Henry Briggs Kittredge,Arianne Joyce Tomas Legaspi,Ryan Locke,Nichola Martin,Lawrence Mason,Monica Mazel,Angela Moneke,Julian Murray,Daniel Naprous,Ricky Niven,Josh Nixon,Siddharth Parwana,Jenna Pearson,Phil Pease,Georgia Pownall,Saleem Ahmed Qazi,Asha Radwan,Daniel Rogers,Evelyn Rooney,Zoe Ross,Penny Ryder,Callum Sampson,Tom Savage,Sean Seymour,Kshitij Sharma,Sanjay Sharma,Kiran Shetty,Eloise Singer,Charles Joseph Smith,Behnam Taheri,Katharine Tidy,Tiffany Tiesiera,Jessica Tolan,Gianpiero Vannucci,Hugo Vickers,Graham Walters,Nicola White,Sarah Jane Wright,Phoebe Young,Anna Fraga McLucas,Max Mason
Thanks Alan Macdonald,Tim Pigott-Smith,Maria Walker
Genres Biography, Drama, History
Companies BBC Films, Cross Street Films, Perfect World Pictures
Countries UK, USA, China
Languages English, Urdu, Hindi, Italian, Arabic
ContentRating PG-13
ImDbRating 6.8
ImDbRatingVotes 35921
MetacriticRating 58
Keywords queen of england,unlikely friendship,muslim,royal court,courtier