You may best know him as musician Zafar from "Fukrey," but Ali Fazal has quite an impressive resume already and he is going to further ornate it by taking on a lead role with the incomparable Dame Judy Dench. This historical drama will see Dench playing the role of Queen Victoria during her later years and Fazal playing an Indian clerk who wins her affections.
Tentatively titled "Victoria and Abdul," the film is based on Shrabani Basu's book "Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closet Confidant." The book, set in the 1800s, speaks of an extraordinary true story of Queen Victoria, the young clerk Abdul Karim and their unlikely friendship. It is about how Abdul changed the Queen's outlook towards the world and how under Abdul's influence she reconnected with her humanity.
The unlikely friendship also raised a few eyebrows in the Queen's court and many a jealous party tried to sabotage the friendship. This touching tale with multitudes of nuances has been turned into a screenplay by the Academy Award winning writer Lee Hall and will be directed by Stephen Frears. The presence of an amazing talent like Dench at the helm almost guarantees a nod at the Oscars and it could certainly be a film for the history classes.
Dench is no stranger to English films set in the Indian backdrop, having played a pivotal character in both "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." She is also associated with India-based Karuna Trust, which supports work amongst some of India's poorest and most oppressed people.
She's the cherry on this wonderful pudding. The most loved woman in Britain and probably the world," Fazal says regarding his "Victoria and Abdul" co-star.
Fazal has been a part of American film "Furious 7" and the TV show "Bollywood Hero." While Fazal himself describes his part in the seventh edition of "Fast and the Furious" franchise as a cameo, his role in the short-running Chris Kattan show is also not too memorable. His role in "Victoria and Abdul" will therefore be a landmark in Fazal's career as an actor in the world arena.
Speaking about the role Fazal says, "It doesn't get better I guess. I have known about this beautiful story for ages. Never thought I'd be destined to play out a real-life character. That of Abdul Karim. Stephen Frears is one of my all time favourite directors- from 'Dangerous Liaisons' to 'The Queen' he's made it all." He further adds, "It was a process of endless auditions and readings and conversations and today I am so glad they grilled fully into it to a point of no return. I am ecstatic and I guess it hasn't really sunk in. So I will take a bow when I finish my work on the film. The fun has just begun."