Ali Fazal bags lead role opposite Judi Dench in Hollywood film

Bollywood actor Ali Fazal, who played a brief role in Vin Diesel starrer action film ‘Fast & Furious 7’, has bagged the lead role opposite Academy Award winning actress Judi Dench in an upcoming Hollywood film to be directed by Stephen Frears.     

Titled ‘Victoria & Abdul’, the movie is based on Shrabani Basu’s book ‘Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant’, which chronicles the true story of an unexpected friendship forged between an Indian clerk Abdul Karim and Queen Victoria.  

Ali will be seen in the role of Abdul, while Judi, who played Queen Victoria in the 1997 film ‘Her Majesty Mrs Brown’, will once again essay the character.

Sharing his excitement, the ‘Fukrey’ actor told Bombay Times, “I think they liked my hold on Hindi, English and Urdu. I am living my dream. Abdul is a guy from Agra who goes to London and is thrown into a fancy place all of a sudden. That's just what happened to me. Stephen liked my audition and I did reading sessions with Judi Dench."

He said he hasn’t read the book on which the movie is based, but has gone through a few letters exchanged between the Queen and Abdul from the archives. "I didn't want the book to influence Stephen's vision or the script. I wanted to retain the innocence that Abdul had. From teaching the Queen Hindi and Urdu to becoming her confidante and political advisor — they shared a unique relationship,” Ali added.

Set in the 1800s, Abdul Karim, a 24-year-old assistant clerk in Agra Central Jail, travels to England to wait at tables during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. He found favour with the Queen herself and became her teacher, instructing her in Urdu and Hindi and Indian affairs. Her intense and controversial relationship with Karim led to a near-revolt in the royal household.

The movie is being produced by Working Title Films will be shot in India, Scotland and the Isle of Wight.

Currently, Ali is busy promoting his upcoming film ‘Happy Bhaag Jayegi’ which also stars Diana Penty and Abhay Deol. It is scheduled to release on August 19, after which he will begin shooting for ‘Victoria & Abdul’. He is also growing a beard for the role.