Ali Fazal, who played a cameo in the seventh instalment of the ‘Fast And Furious’ franchise, has bagged the lead role opposite Dame Judi Dench in director Stephen Frears’ next film. Tentatively titled ‘Victoria & Abdul’, it is set in the late 1800s and is based on the book that narrates the true story of an unexpected friendship between Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim, a young clerk from India. While Ali will play Abdul, Judi, who played Queen Victoria in ‘Mrs Brown’ (1997), will once again essay the role. Though a few Indian actors auditioned for the part, Ali bagged the role. He told Bombay Times, “I think they liked my hold on Hindi, English and Urdu. I’m growing a beard for this movie. Hence, I’m looking like a homeless guy while promoting my upcoming film ‘Happy Bhag Jayegi’. I’ll leave for London after it releases.” Ali, who is thrilled to work with the Oscar winning actress, adds, “I’m 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.” While the actor hasn’t read the book the movie is based on, he has read 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,” says Ali.
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