The Deccan: An Untold History


Tuesday, 20th November, 4:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Chand Bibi

Tasvir-i Chand Bibi (Portrait of Chand Bibi) c.1800, Deccan miniature painting, 156 x 201 mm

A complex history of the Deccan that goes beyond dominant narratives is slowly emerging owning to new research by scholars and historians. The Deccan Plateau extending from Western to Southern India, whose kingdoms stretched as far north as the Vindhyas, was once a cultural and economic melting pot of the world. A cosmopolitan, pluralistic society it was replete with multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities that produced some of the most fascinating characters of modern Indian history including Krishnadevaraya, Chand Bibi, Malik Ambar, the Adil Shahis and Shivaji. Poets, musicians, artisans, painters and architects from around the world found patronage in the courts of Vijaynagara, Golconda, Bijapur and Hyderabad; while merchants from China, Iran, Iraq, Europe and Africa flocked to their bazaars for the thriving trade in some of the world’s best port cities. In this multilingual society while Persian served as the official language; Marathi, Kannada and Telugu also flourished under royal patronage. It was here that Dakhani developed as a spoken and literary language under the Bahamani rulers, drawn from primarily Arabic and Persian, but distinct from Urdu, which was spoken in the north. 

The region’s remarkable wealth also attracted several invasions and witnessed tumultuous periods of conquest by contenders from the Qutub Shahis and the Mughals to the Marathas. This led to a crosspollination of cultures, and fluid cultural and religious identities without the fixed boundaries as we understand them today. The temples of Vijaynagara for instance had pillars with Arabic and Turkish engravings, and Ibrahim Adil Shahi of the Adil Shahi dynasty was known to be greatly influenced by Hindu mythology and considered himself the son of Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesh. 

Join us as we speak to Manu S Pillai, Author of the Rebel Sultans: From Khilji to Shivaji and Gautam Pemmaraju, Writer & Director of A Tongue United: The Story of Dakhani (Documentary) as they discuss the complex history of the Deccan, in a conversation moderated by Supriya NairJournalist

The conversation will be preceded by a screening of the documentary A Tongue Untied: The Story of Dakhani, Written and Directed by Gautam Pemmaraju. You can read more about the film here.

Manu Pillai

Manu S Pillai is the author of the award-winning The Ivory Throne: Chronicles of the House of Travancore (HarperCollins India, 2015) and Rebel Sultans: The Deccan from Khilji to Shivaji (Juggernaut, 2018). Formerly Chief of Staff to Dr. Shashi Tharoor MP, he has in the past worked at the House of Lords in Britain, with Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL, and with the BBC on their Incarnations history series. Manu writes a weekly column for Mint Lounge, his other writings have appeared in The Hindu, OpenMagazine, Times of India, Hindustan Times, and other publications. 

Gautam Pemmaraju

Gautam Pemmaraju is a Mumbai based writer and independent filmmaker who works in the areas of history, literature and art. With publications for several print and digital publications, he retains a special interest in the cultural history of Hyderabad and the Deccan province of India. He has also published extensively on sound/music production and art.  A Tongue Untied: The Story of Dakhani (2017) on the vernacular satire & humour poetry of the Deccan and its language history is his first independent feature documentary film, which is currently screening at venues across the world.

Supriya Nair

Supriya Nair is a journalist from Bombay. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, Vogue, and Wisden. She is a columnist for the Mumbai Mirror. 




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Event Details

Tue 20 Nov 2018
4:30 - 8 p.m.

Hall of Culture, Nehru Centre, 
Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli,
Mumbai 400018

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