Thu, 14 Oct

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Online Conversation

False Allies: India's Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma : In Conversation with Manu S. Pillai

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False Allies: India's Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma : In Conversation with Manu S. Pillai

Time & Location

14-Oct-2021, 5:00 pm IST

Online Conversation

About the Event

Karwaan: The Heritage Exploration Initiative in collaboration with Juggernaut Books brings to you a Book Discussion on False Allies: India's Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma by Manu S. Pillai

Join the Author Manu S. Pillai in conversation with Eshan Sharma on 14th October 2021 at 5 PM IST on YouTube and Clubhouse.

India’s maharajahs have traditionally been cast as petty despots, consumed by lust and luxury. Bejewelled parasites, they cared more, we are told, for elephants and palaces than for schools and public works. The British cheerfully circulated the idea that brown royalty needed ‘enlightened’ white hands to guide it, and by the twentieth century many Indians too bought into the stereotype, viewing princely India as packed with imperial stooges. Indeed, even today the princes are either remembered with frothy nostalgia or dismissed as greedy fools, with no role in the making of contemporary India.

In this brilliantly researched book, Manu S. Pillai disputes this view. Tracking the travels of the iconic painter Ravi Varma through five princely states – from the 1860s to the early 1900s – he uncovers a picture far removed from the clichés in which the princes are trapped. The world we discover is not of dancing girls, but of sedition, legal battles, the defiance of imperial dictates, and resistance. We meet maharajahs obsessed with industrialization, and rulers who funded nationalists, these men anything but pushovers for the Raj to manipulate.

About the Author: Manu S. Pillai is the author of the critically acclaimed The Ivory Throne (2015), Rebel Sultans (2018) and The Courtesan, the Mahatma and the Italian Brahmin (2019). Formerly chief of staff to Shashi Tharoor MP, he is also a winner of the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar (2017). His essays and writings on history have appeared in Mint Lounge, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Open, New Statesman, and other publications. This is his fourth book.

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