Return to Transcripts main page


Death in Las Vegas, Paralysis in Washington; Leading Voices in Amanpour This Week; Relevance of "Victoria and Abdul" Story Today. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 6, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET


[14:02:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, terror on the ground, fear in Washington. We wrestle with what might come after the mass

shooting in Las Vegas.

Then a much needed lift off with dame Judi Dench and the writer Shrabani Basu who bring to the screen an extraordinary story of Queen Victoria.

Somehow overlooked for a hundred years.

Good evening, everyone, and welcome to our weekend review show where we look back at all the big stories. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London

And this week, of course, it was all anybody was talking about.




AMANPOUR: It was the worst mass shooting in modern American history. Bullets rained down on Las Vegas. The gunman killed 58 people and injured

more than 500 others. As investigators struggle to understand what drove him, we interviewed lawmakers, activists, witnesses and law enforcement


Unique among developed countries, America is defined by its commitment to gun rights and by its gun violence. This time for the first time, there

wasn't even an effort to say that things might change.

So what's behind this inaction, this cynicism?

Well, here is a sampling of what we found out this week.

First from the governor of Connecticut who was in office when 20 children aged 6 and 7 were shot to death at the Sandy Hook Elementary School five

years ago.


DANNEL MALLOY, CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR: These kinds of shootings are coming to your home town in the United States, because much of our country will

not take the steps on a national basis to make the country safe. We still have guns being sold -- 40 percent of guns being sold without a background


We still have guns being sold in Internet sales subject to no background checks. We still have gun shows in some states, where guns are changing

hands with no background check. A disturbed individual can get guns in America and we can't change the laws on a national basis.

We can do it on a state-by-state basis. Quite frankly I don't think the people serving in the Congress and the Senate have the guts to have a frank

conversation with the American people that this type of crime is not simply a Las Vegas or New York or Chicago or an L.A. kind of thing. This is

coming to your hometown.

I had that experience in my state. The Sandy Hook School and that beautiful town, a new town is, you know, bucolic, wonderful places. No one

would have ever thought that, you know, a sick person would take those kinds of weapons into a school and murder those kinds of folks.

[14:05:00] AMANPOUR: Your own Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut said it's time for Congress to get off its ass and do something. He said that

today after this.

And something surely, governor, is this idea of silencers coming up. You know, people run when they heard the gunshot. What would have happen if

they didn't hear these gunshots?

Are the politicians going to stop the silencers?


MALLOY: Yes, this could go on for quite a while. I mean, silencers, there is no constitutional protection of silencers. This is -- this is a crazy

discussion to have.

The idea that somebody could enter a school and kill everyone in a classroom and no one might know about it makes no sense at all. Please

America, wake up and smell the coffee. Our children are dying because we won't take common sense steps to protect them. Shame on us as Americans.

We're not showing the strength and the fortitude that we pretend to have when we lecture other countries about their difficulties, about their

terrorism or about their domestic problems.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISIONER: This whole bill about silencers to me is absolutely crazy. Can you imagine if that

individual had a silencer on that weapon, how long it would take for people to even know what's going on, which increases the number of victims.

I mean, it's insane in my opinion and yet it stands a good chance of probably passing.

Listen, if Sandy Hook -- if the slaughter of 20 babies didn't change gun laws in American, then don't this is going to change anything. There will

be some discussion for a month or so and then things go right back to the way they were.

AMANPOUR: You would think that people like yourself who have the majority of the American people on your side, who know that sensible gun control,

which does not mean taking guns away from people but just regulating them in a sensible way could work.

I mean, there's a problem with the message. Somehow it's getting all confused. People think maybe that there's gun control. That there are

background check.

It seems to me and certainly our other guest have said so that on your side, the message is very modelled despite the carnage, while on the NRA

side it's a very simple, clear message that people relate to.

RAMSEY: Well, look, Christiane, if you look at what's happening in the states, you've got a very different picture. In the past four years, 24

states have made it more difficult for domestic abusers to get guns and the research says it makes a big difference.

Now over nearly 50 percent of the American public lives in states, where in order to sell a gun, you have to have a background check and that's up from

about a third.

So the states get it, Republican governors are getting it, Democratic governors are getting it, but when it comes to Congress, we're going in the

wrong direction. And what we need is not just thoughts and prayers, what we need is not just moments of silence but we need resolve and we need


STEVE ISRAEL, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: In my 16 years in Congress, there were 52 mass shootings over 16 years. And each and every time,

Congress reacted by doing several things.

Number one, they would do tweets about our hearts and minds and thoughts go out to the victims. Number two, they would lower the American flag. And

number three, they would have moments of silence.

These things aren't enough. We've got to do more than that.

And if I may, let me take you behind the scenes. Let me tell you why. Let me answer your question about why nothing happens. It's three reasons.

Number one, it is the power of the gun lobby. Many of my colleagues, by the way, on both sides of the aisle, want to pass common sense, bipartisan

gun legislation. They are afraid they are going to defeated in the next election.

Number two, we have this thing in the United States called congressional redistricting. And congressional districts have been drawn so far to the

right that it's pulling moderate Republicans further to the extreme. And they have to out gun one another literally on the issue of guns.

And number three, it's American complacency. Your viewers in Europe and around the world maybe staggered. May find it absolutely shocking that

this happens. But yesterday's incident was just one of many. And it's going to be another one next week and the week after that.

And I think that the gun lobby wants us to low us into a sense of complacency so that we don't organize and we don't fight back.

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: You rightly referenced what happened in Australia after a mass shooting.

Prime Minister John Howard who was from the conservative coalition, whose party -- the parties in it as Prime Minister Howard or former Prime

Minister Howard said represented almost every world constituency in Australia got up and said we can't have this anymore.

And they passed a comprehensive set of gun laws that have done an awful lot of good. And you really have to have -- some people in conservative

politics look at their hearts and say conservatism should not represent the interests of the National Rifle Association. There is nothing conservative

about mass shootings.

[14:10:08] NORMAN ORNSTEIN, RESIDENT SCHOLAR, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: We are hoping and there's some evidence as EJ suggested to

believe that Trump could be our Dunkirk. Giving us a jolt and recognizing that we got to have our civil society and many of the groups that are a

part of it stepping up to the plate to try and do something about this.

The election of Trump was a jolt. That's something we talk about in great detail in the book. Maybe this massacre will be another jolt.

AMANPOUR: Congressman, welcome back to the program.

It's always these really tragic instances that demand your moral voice. But I need to ask you, you tried it last time. After Orlando, there was a

big sit-in that lasted 24 hours and it went nowhere.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: Well, we have to keep trying. We can never ever give up. We've lost too many people, hundreds and thousands of men,

women, children. It's not safe to go to church to attend a mass, a synagogue, to be in school, to go to a club and dance or what and just

listen to wonderful music. A concert, in Las Vegas.

The time is always right to do right. That's what Martin Luther King, Jr. said over and over again. It's time for us to pass the necessary

legislation to control the proliferation of gun.

We've lost too many of our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, and brothers, and our little children. The time is always right as I said to do what is


AMANPOUR: Congressman, that sounds so sensible and so right but what do you make, then, of these talking points that are being issued by the White

House and probably, they're issued every time there's something like this.

We've seen a parade of congress -- congressional leaders saying, "Now, is not the time." I read one of those talking points and here's another one.

"Let's be clear," says the White House. "New laws won't stop a madman committed to harming innocent people."

"They will just curtail the freedom of law-abiding citizens."

I mean, how do you argue with that logic?

LEWIS: Well, we don't need more talking points. We don't need more people sitting and dying. Getting bogged down in the paralysis of analysis. We

need to act.

The congress, the leadership, the majority should bring a vote to the floor of the House and to the Senate to deal with gun violence and we would pass



AMANPOUR: The Las Vegas shooting has shocked and saddened many people all over the world including my next guest.

As the horror was unfolding, I was interviewing the actress dame Judi Dench and the writer Shrabani Basu about their latest film.

Here's their reaction when they heard how many had been mowed down?


AMANPOUR: It's awful, isn't it?

SHRABANI BASU, WRITER: Guns, honestly, it is.


AMANPOUR: It really is. Awful, awful, awful.


AMANPOUR: Coming up. We'll turn with them from sadness to joy and a much needed uplift as the writer and grand dam of British film and theater tell

us about the unknown story of an extraordinary friendship in their film and "Victoria and Abdul." That's next.


[14:15:00] AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

On a visit to Queen Victoria's country house, a painting of a noble looking young Indian man sparked the curiosity of the writer Shrabani Basu. It was

a portrait of Abdul Karim. He was a servant in the royal court who developed an unlikely friendship with the elderly widowed Queen Victoria.

That true story of how Abdul became the queen's munshi, her teacher, is now a film called "Victoria and Abdul," starring Dame Judi Dench and the

Bollywood star Ali Fazal.


ALI FAZAL, ACTOR PLAYING ABDUL: We are here for a greater purpose. In the Quran it says we are here for the good of others.


FAZAL: Yes. I know the Quran by heart.

DENCH: By heart? Isn't it very long?

FAZAL: 114. Containing 6,236 verses.

DENCH: And you know every word.

FAZAL: Many Muslim people know the Quran.

DENCH: I thought you were Hindu.

FAZAL: I am Muslim, your majesty. I learned the Quran from my father. He's my munshi.

DENCH: Munshi?

FAZAL: Yes, munshi? My teacher.

DENCH: Well, we would like you to be the queen's munshi.


AMANPOUR: It is a story from the Victorian age with echoes of today's political environment. And this week, I spoke with Judi Dench and Shrabani

Basu about this surprising film.


AMANPOUR: Dame Judi Dench and Shrabani Basu, welcome to the program.

DENCH: Thank you.

BASU: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: Dame Judi, I do actually have to go straight to you. I mean, you have now become famous for making Queen Victoria more famous than maybe

she ever was. What is it about her that keeps you playing her?

DENCH: Well, I don't think that it' true what you said, but what is wonderful about her is that having played her 20 years ago, with her

relationship with John Brown, then suddenly Shrabani here we have to thank, it came to light about her relationship with Abdul Karim. And I think it's

a bit of history that none of us knew. And how wonderful that we've got it and it must've brightened the last 13 years of her life considerably to

have a young man that he would talk to and laugh with and learn from and share ideas with.

And everything, I mean. How wonderfully worth getting up for, and I think it's a marvellously worthwhile story to tell.

AMANPOUR: Shrabani, it is incredible that you found this story. I mean, from watching the film, you get the impression that the royals burnt

everything, you know, sent him and his family back to India and that I certainly didn't think from the film that there was any evidence of him


How did Abdul Karim even come to light?

BASU: Well, it started -- I guess I'm a very curious journalist. And I saw this portrait of his, in Osborne House and he was painted like a

nobleman in red and gold and cream, and it struck me that he didn't look like a servant.

And then of course in Osborne House, which is the holiday home of Queen Victoria on the Isle of Wight, I saw the Indian room and I saw more

portraits and photographs of Abdul including one photograph in her dressing room just below John Brown.

That's when I thought, OK, he's somebody special. He is not just a servant. I wanted to know more.

So that was the starting point. And then of course I went to Windsor Castle, and I wanted to see Queen Victoria journals.

And her Hindu study journals, which are the journals she kept with Abdul Karim, where she learned also. And I was expecting to see, you know, one

exercise book with a few phrases, but the achieve is, she brought in a trolley with 13 volumes over there so I knew I was going to be there for a

while and finally I found his diary in Karachi, in Pakistan.

So I covered three countries, actually. It was quite a journey.

AMANPOUR: It is extraordinary. I mean, especially, you have to be totally aware Dame Judi and also you Shrabani of the time in our modern history,

where you are now telling the world that the queen of England had a Indian, Muslim munshi. Had a teacher, a companion, who was a Muslim.

How do you respond to that, Dame Judi? You accept that it is very relevant to today's political environment?

[14:20:00] DENCH: I think it is very relevant, indeed. But Eddie Izzard who plays Bertie, Prince of Wales, said something to me almost at the

beginning of the film.

At that point I didn't quite know what, but he suddenly said that his mantra was be curious, not suspicious. And I was terribly struck by it,

that I did embroider it on a cushion. But I thought it might as well apply to this film. How wonderful to be curious about somebody, not think how

different, but think what is it that is the difference.

Question, question things.

Ask, you know, which I think was very much the relationship of Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim.

She was curious to know and understand and learn to speak or do and write things and why I have not have an exchange of ideas instead of just

standing off and be critical of somebody.

AMANPOUR: So you've played, actually, obviously, many, many characters in your career. But you played several British queens. "Queen Elizabeth" and

"Shakespeare in Love." You played "Victoria" several times.

How different was it playing Queen Victoria at the end of her life?

DENCH: The wonderful thing is that -- well, it's not wonderful at all actually. But as I was playing that part at the same age, you know,

getting up and being helped up, well, how wonderful. Getting helped out of bed and dressed in the morning, I like it now. But there we are.

AMANPOUR: Shrabani, was his family -- when you finally met his descendants in Karachi, I mean, were they longing to tell this story? Were they proud

of his experience? Do they know?

BASU: They didn't know anything. There was a trunk with a few things. But they didn't know his life there. They didn't even know where he had

been buried. He was buried in Agra, his homeland. You know, that was his home city when he was born. And now the family know where he is buried.

Now they can go back to his grave.

So they knew nothing of the history and in fact they said we actually felt a little ashamed of him because we thought he was this rouge character who

-- you know, he was portrayed as a bit evil in sort of western biographies, because, you know, the household were very racist.

And, obviously, if you would just take their account into question, then he might just really -- he comes out really badly. They used to call the

Indians the black brigade. They used to call them the Indians. And they were terrible to him.

So they thought that, you know, just going by this that he was a bit of a rogue. But they were delighted that, you know, the other side had come

forward. That the journals had reveal the different side to him. And, well, they're very happy now that, you know, his side of the story has been


DENCH: And the wonderful thing, Christiane, is that sometimes she wrote to him five times a day and he was only down the corridor. He wasn't away,

you know.

BASU: As she would say come say good night to me.

I want to go and see -- the Hindu study journals have entries like, "The munshi has got some kittens. I'm going to see the kittens." This is the

queen of England, empress of India and she was just -- she wanted to go, you know, see the kittens or have tea with the munshi's wife.

So it was a relationship on a very different level.

AMANPOUR: I would like to just ask you because I've also heard Michael Gambon talk about it.

What is it like having to learn the lines or read the script, listen, learn, you know, the older you get. Is it more difficult?

Do you have special, you know, sort of tricks to learn these long scripts?

DENCH: It's difficult anyway to learn. It's difficult if you're 22, I think to learn. It's more difficult when you're 82 and you can't read.

But I have really good friends and those friends are very ready to help me. To read me things and I have the script blown up to a huge font.

I mean, if there were -- well, if Shrabani and I were doing a sonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, she would have one page with a sonnet on it and I would

have 14 pages with the sonnet on it. That's how large the print is.

But, you know, you adjust to things. Everybody just have to stretch. It doesn't happen, you know -- you just cope with it.

AMANPOUR: Well, it's brilliant and you do so much more than cope.

So Dame Judi Dench and Shrabani Basu, thank you so much for this amazing film.

DENCH: Thank you very much, indeed.

BASU: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: When we come back, a moment from more recent history on the anniversary of the space race. Imagine how Russia won the first round and

caught American napping. That's next.


[14:26:40] AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world reliving an old cosmic contest.

As news of the Las Vegas Shooting spread, fake news reared its ugly head again. Far right extremist spread the lie that it was committed by an

anti-Trump liberal and the Russian state news agency, Sputnik, said the attack was committed by ISIS.

As the story started trending, Sputnik claimed their fake news flash was just a typo. As Congress continues investigating the info wars this week,

imagine that 60 years ago, the original Sputnik, that small Soviet satellite started the space race catching the Americans unaware and leaving

them red faced but also full throated.

President Kennedy then vowed to put a man on the moon and ended up beating Russia at its own game.

Today, though, the International Space Station is one of the rare sites of Russian-American cooperation. So who knows? Maybe in another 60 years,

they'll join in harmony online, in the cause of truth, imagine that.

That is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always listen to our podcast, see online at and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.