Ali Fazal on working with Judi Dench in Victoria & Abdul: 'I was ecstatic'
Ali Fazal, who entered Bollywood with a small cameo as the engineering student Joy Lobo in Rajkumar Hirani's 3 Idiots (2009), has come a long way. He will next be seen in his first international lead-role film, Victoria & Abdul opposite Academy award winning actor Judi Dench.
Victoria & Abdul is the extraordinary story of a supposed liaison between Queen Victoria and her Indian servant Abdul Karim. This controversial relationship between the British monarch and the Indian servant was well-kept secret until the diary of Karim was found. This film is based on the book by author Shrabani Basu.
Fazal, during the time the film was in process, in an interview with The Indian Express had said that he was really lucky to have got the opportunity to be a part of the film. “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," said the actor.
Speaking to media persons during the trailer launch, Fazal also explained how he got the part: "It was a proper process. A lady, whose name I can’t take, but I owe it to her. She told me about the auditions. Then I called Nandini, the casting director. The process started. One day, I got a call that they have liked me and would want to meet me. It was a long list of names out of which I was selected and I feel really nice about it. There were some of my colleagues, those who I really respect, and to have been picked over them means something."
Fazal also spoke to the media regarding his experience working with the legendary actress.
"We shot for the film for about 50-60 days but the first time when I met Judi Dench, we had lunch together, just to meet each other and break the ice. I was literally on the floors! I touched her feet, shook her hand and hugged her. She was extremely welcoming. She made me at ease. And I think that relationship began there, while we were having lunch in London. After that, we became friends. As an actor, your job is half done when your co-star becomes your friend, especially when it's Judi Dench," he said, reports Deccan Chronicle.
Fazal also said Dench wanted to come to India to promote the film as she loves the country; she has been here before. Both, Fazal and Dench, discussed about Indian food and films.
Produced by BBC Films and Focus Features, Victoria and Abdul is directed by two-time Academy winner Stephen Frears, who has previously directed films like The Queen (2006). Philomena (2013) and much recent Florence Foster Jenkins (2016).
The film is slated to release on 22 September in the US.