First off, how does Manu S Pillai manage to churn out historical books like it’s no mean feat? Secondly, Instagram is raving about his new book titled ‘India’s Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma‘ that is up for preorder on Amazon. If there’s a history buff within you, do not miss this add-to-cart moment.
So, what’s the new book all about?
Manu Pillai has chosen to break a common stereotype that most of us associate with India’s Maharajas. We’ve always been under the impression that Maharajas are highly snobbish, ruthless, surrounded with luxury and wealth, a touch away. And that they cared more for acquiring lands and building their jewel boxes over paving the way for a more educated society. It took the British to enter the Indian subcontinent to teach us the ways of living a life of enlightenment until the ugly truth came out.
Well, Pillai begs to differ. He has a different story to narrate. That too, through the works and travels of the iconic painter Ravi Varma. Discovering the authentic world of Maharajas from the Princely States between the 1860s to the early 1900s, Manu draws the curtain to reveal the untold, real-life of these Princes. In this world, the Maharajas aren’t drinking bottles and fantasising about dancing girls. Rather, they are in constant talks of “sedition, legal battles, the defiance of imperial dictates, and resistance.” They protested the British rule with grit, and that was left untold by many. They were, as Manu calls them, ‘serious political actors’.
India’s Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma has got to be on your 2021 reading list. As some wise person said, “If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday”. Pre-book your copy here.
Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the stunning book cover? We can’t help but judge the book by its cover. Gavin Morris at Juggernaut deserves a mention for making the cover frame-worthy.