The book tells the story of the unusual bond that developed between Queen Victoria, then Empress of India, and Abdul Karim, a 24-year old Indian who was sent to London to wait at tables for the Queen during her golden jubilee celebrations. The Queen, devastated by the death of her Scottish attendant John Brown,
found his replacement in the handsome Abdul. An unconventional affection flowered between the ageing queen and Abdul, who was declared ‘munshi’ (teacher) to the queen.
He became her Urdu instructor and she his English teacher. Soon they were spending long stretches of time together, their intense relationship viewed with alarm and disapproval by the royal household.
According to a report, author Shrabani Basu says she is “absolutely delighted” with the news about the film, calling the three at the helm – Stephen Frears as director, Lee Hall as screenplay writer and Judi Dench as lead actor – a “dream team.”