News & Interviews

I’ve Formed Lifelong Friendship With Judi Dench: Ali Fazal

Ali Fazal

Victoria & Abdul about Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria befriending Ali Fazal’s Indian servant Abdul Karim,seems to have offended Indian critics for not  taking into view the  ugliness of  the British Raj.

Ali who is  shooting for a film called Mirzapur  in Varanasi seems a bit baffled by the  backlash. “What  is the fuss about?Abdul is  a character I play. And everything he does in the film including kissing the Queen’ 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.”

Ali spent a lot of time  getting to know Judi during the shooting and afterwards while promoting the film. “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.”

Ali intends  to keep his friendship with  the awesome  Ms Dench  going.  “I think  somewhere we are  bonded much beyond  one film. I will be seeing her again in November and I am sure it will be just the same then as  it is now. We share the same manager. So  there is plenty of opportunity  for us to run  into one another.I think  I’ve formed a lifelong friendship with Judi Dench.”

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