Posts Tagged ‘Ali Fazal’

The Banquet of Infinity

Victoria & Abdul

Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Olivia Williams, Tim Piggott-Smith, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Julian Wadham, Simon Callow, Paul Higgins

The unlikely friendship of Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim, a Muslim clerk from Agra who is sent to England from Colonial India to present a special coin to her majesty is the subject of a sumptuous and shrewdly observed film by veteran director Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, The Queen, Philomena).

Victoria and Abdul has to be viewed in conjunction with the 1997 John Madden film Mrs Brown also starring Oscar winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) as the grand old queen which in that film follows her widow like infatuation with the Scottish highlander John Brown played by Billy Connolly.

The British director of Florence Foster Jenkins makes a clever narrative choice in telling the story from Abdul’s perspective, as he goes on a fascinating journey into the heart of the English court with its strange pomposity and royal etiquette.

Abdul is expertly played by Indian actor Ali Fazal (Fast and Furious 7), who is handsome, devoted and downright smitten with this cantankerous monarch who sees him as a beautiful embodiment of all that is exotic about the vast subcontinent that was 19th century colonial India, a country that ironically Queen Victoria was never allowed to visit for fear of being assassinated.

Victoria, much to the horror of her conservative retinue of court staff and advisors, takes a shine to the bold and outspoken Abdul and requests that he become her munchee, her teacher on all things Indian from delicacies like mangoes to religious and cultural practices. A pertinent request considering that at the time, 19th century India was ruled by England when its rapid colonial expansion globally allowed Queen Victoria to bizarrely assume the title of Empress of India even though she had never set foot on the distant sub-continent.

As the friendship between Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim blossoms at first comically and later as a form of emotional attachment, it becomes the source of anticipated ridicule from her own son Bertie, the Prince of Wales played with suitable arrogance by Eddie Izzard as well as the British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury wonderfully played by Michael Gambon (Brideshead Revisited).

In one of the best lines of the film Lord Salisbury mentions to Queen Victoria at a gorgeous state banquet that the British Empire has annexed Zululand to which the monarch replies whatever for?

In the twilight of her exceptionally long reign and as the 19th century draws to a close, Victoria realizes that her unconventional friendship with Abdul is her last jaunt at joviality even elevating him to a senior adviser and taking him on a trip to Florence, Italy where they are both fortunate enough to meet Puccini played with panache by character actor Simon Callow (A Room with a View, Maurice).

The cross cultural appeal of Victoria and Abdul should keep international audiences interested in this previously unknown friendship between an aging British monarch and a young, handsome Indian clerk, whose precarious protection at court was only valid while the Queen remained alive.

The shocking end sequence of Victoria and Abdul is a cruel reminder of how colonialism always excluded the other even when they were desperately trying to appease their colonizer.

As a brilliantly observed piece of largely ignored historical fact which only came to light through the discovery of Abdul’s journals in 2010, Victoria and Abdul is a beautiful period film, held together by two magnificently nuanced performances by both Judi Dench and Ali Fazal, both whom deserve Oscar nominations.

Victoria and Abdul gets a film rating of 8 out of 10 and will be enjoyed by audiences that cherished director Gurinder Chadha’s equally impressive Anglo-Indian drama The Viceroy’s House set during the partition of India, half a century in later.

 

A Fraternal Send Off

Fast and Furious 7

furious_seven

Director: James Wan

Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Djimon Hounsou, Kurt Russell, Chris Bridges, Luke Evans, Ronda Rousey, John Brotherton, Ali Fazal

Fast and Furious fans will not be disappointed with the seventh instalment of this hugely successful globetrotting film franchise as almost the entire cast of the previous six films are reunited in a poignant and brash fraternal send off to co-star Paul Walker, who died tragically in a car accident in Santa Clarita, California during the shooting of Fast and Furious 7 on the 30th November 2013.

This time the enemy amongst others is Deckard Shaw played with brawn by action star Jason Statham who after the defeat of his brother in London travels to Los Angeles and vows to hunt down all those responsible which include Hobbs played by Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Dominic Torreto played by Vin Diesel as well as Brian O’Conner played by the late Paul Walker. Even Michelle Rodriguez has a bigger role in this film as Torreto’s kick-ass slightly amnesiac girlfriend Letty.

furious_seven_ver2

This time the enemy amongst others is Deckard Shaw played with brawn by action star Jason Statham who after the defeat of his brother in London travels to Los Angeles and vows to hunt down all those responsible which include Hobbs played by Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Dominic Tureto played by Vin Diesel as well as Brian O’Conner played by the late Paul Walker. Even Michelle Rodriguez has a bigger role in this film as Tureto’s kick-ass slightly amnesiac girlfriend Letty.

Add some new faces such as Kurt Russell as the aptly titled Mr Nobody and Oscar nominee Djimon Hounson (Blood Diamond) as the other more nefarious villain Jakande as well as some familiar faces like Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious), Lucas Black (Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift) and this sequel is set to satisfy fans of this adrenalin pumping action series right from the opening fight scenes between Statham (Transporter, Safe) and Johnson (G. I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra).

As the seventh instalment of Fast and Furious was funded by Media Rights Capital, which is based in Abu Dhabi so should the action for a large part of this film. The Abu Dhabi skyscraper sequence in Fast and Furious 7 at a Jordanian billionaire prince’s penthouse party is sure to delight fans the world over and certainly attract new ones in the Middle East, even though the action scenes do mimic that of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol which was set in Dubai.

Although the plot for Fast and Furious 7 may be convoluted and the storyline slightly far-fetched, the action sequences and car chase scenes are amazing from the Azerbaijan mountain sequence to the fabulous Abu Dhabi segment to the final explosive showdown in downtown Los Angeles which tends to drag on a bit but is no less entertaining if slightly implausible.

Most fittingly, the film ends with a poignant and memorable tribute scene on the beach in Malibu to one of its late stars, Paul Walker and it’s for this reason that fans will definitely see this film.

Recommended viewing for adrenalin junkies, petrol heads and fans of The Expendables and Mission Impossible film series, Fast and Furious 7 can be forgiven for being overlong, it’s a fitting fraternal send off to one its own stars. The action and stunt sequences are truly out of this world. See Fast and Furious 7 to believe it!

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