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Ali Fazal discusses role in ‘Victoria & Abdul’

Actor says he learnt a lot on set

Image Credit: IANS
Ali Fazal

Actor Ali Fazal says his role in Victoria & Abdul, a never-before exposition on the indefinable friendship between Queen Victoria and her loyal trusted Indian Man-Friday Abdul Karim, doesn’t represent his political views on colonialism.

But he doesn’t rule out trouble over his role in the film as some would see him as a British stooge.

He said: “We can’t stop people from thinking what they want to. I didn’t see the role as representing my political views on colonialism. I am just playing the role of a man who was unique and powerful and persuasive.”

“I got a chance to work with Judi Dench in almost every scene. How many Indian actors get that chance?”

Fazal, who recently shot for the film in England, has returned with happy thoughts.

“I got a chance to work with so many stalwarts from British cinema. Judi Dench, of course, who is a legend. Then there was my director Stephen Frears. He is the man who made some of British cinema’s salient trendsetters. I love My Beautiful Laundrette and Dangerous Liaisons.”

“Then there was the writer, Lee Hall, whose Billy Eliott is one of my favourite films. Besides Judi, I also had the chance to work with distinguished actors like Michael Gambon, Simon Callow wnd Eddie Izzard. Eddie is [a] transgender actor of immense power and popularity. Just being around them was a learning experience,” he said.

Fazal’s said he had an affinity to his character that was instinctive.

“There isn’t much documented history on him. Abdul Karim was a secret from Queen Victoria’s palace that was best forgotten. But I read what I could. When I arrived in England for the shooting, I was shown a picture of Abdul Karim. Then they put up a portrait of me as Abdul Karim. The two pictures fused in my mind. It was surreal,” he said.

The best compliment that Fazal received was from director Frears, who said Fazal reminded him of Shashi Kapoor.

“Stephen has worked with Shashiji in Sammy & Rosie Get Laid. He has asked me to meet Shashiji and convey his regards. He has also asked me to meet Roshan Seth. Since he lives in Delhi and I am shooting in the capital for Fukrey 2, I will meet Roshanji soon,” he said.