Nilanjana S Roy | writer | editor | columnist

  • Speaking Volumes: Tagore’s anti-nationalism

    Speaking Volumes: Tagore’s anti-nationalism

    Tagore on nationalism: “To rid the world of the suffocating coils of national pride …”

  • Speaking Volumes: Brothers in Arms

    Speaking Volumes: Brothers in Arms

    Early on in Brothers, Tapti, on her way home from visiting a prisoner in Tihar Jail, scans a newspaper and the headlines leap out at her; murder, rape. “Despite its vaunted spirituality, India is a bloodthirsty nation. Murder because you gave money, because you owed money, because you loved, or didn’t love, because you were […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Stranger Things

    Speaking Volumes: Stranger Things

    It took about 30 years for political pundits across continents to start discussing the consequences of the “post-truth”, “post-fact” world; Alvin Toffler got there first, back in 1997.

  • Speaking Volumes: The Empire’s outdated laws

    Speaking Volumes: The Empire’s outdated laws

    July is a humid month in Calcutta, and it was sweltering in the Calcutta Supreme Court when The Reverend James Long was indicted “for the publication of various libels in a pamphlet known as the Nil-Durpan”.   As the publisher of Dinbandhu Mitra’s play, Long, an Irish Anglican priest, was fined and briefly jailed in […]

  • Speaking Volumes: What India was reading in 1947

    Speaking Volumes: What India was reading in 1947

      As 1947 began, Geeta Dutt sang Mera Sunder Sapna Beet Gaya across North Indian cinema theatres – the film was Do Bhai, the posters showing two brothers separated by the figure of a woman, her face disturbed, one brother looking down in sadness, the other staring out of the frame. Audiences also loved Nasir […]

  • The Cursed Child and The Boy Who Grew Up

    The Cursed Child and The Boy Who Grew Up

    (Published in the Business Standard, August 2, 2016) Mrs. Darling came to the window, for at present she was keeping a sharp eye on Wendy. She told Peter that she had adopted all the other boys, and would like to adopt him also. “Would you send me to school?” he inquired craftily. “Yes.” “And then […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Diary of a W-Grade Writer

    Speaking Volumes: Diary of a W-Grade Writer

      (Published in the Business Standard, July 19, 2016) News item:  As a pilot project, the Culture ministry has already graded 185 artistes into three categories — O (Outstanding), P (Promising), W (Waiting).”  Dear Diary, some progress. Met the under secretary to the deputy secretary to the Minister’s personal private secretary today. She assured me that […]

  • Speaking Volumes: Funny guys

    Speaking Volumes: Funny guys

    Ricardo Rendón’s cartoons, famous in Colombia from roughly 1918 through the 1920s, feel familiar, as though they took a trans-decadal flight from his time to our own. The vultures feasting on the remains of the republic; the politician’s juggling act with nothing more than glinting soap bubbles; the last rites administered to the skull and […]

  • A writer’s conscience, and protests

    A writer’s conscience, and protests

    A major Indian literary festival chooses to partner with a corporate sponsor of dubious track record. The JLF Southbank festival is in London; a few weeks before it starts, a campaign asks writers to boycott the festival, citing Vedanta’s track record on tribal and adivasi rights. Some campaigners trash the culture of literary festivals, calling […]

  • In Translation: I, The Salt Doll by Vandana Mishra

    In Translation: I, The Salt Doll by Vandana Mishra

      “A salt doll spends time frolicking on the shore, building sand castles or collecting shells. Enamoured as she is of the deep, calm sea…, one day the salt doll decides to enter the blue waters for a good bath. And never returns.” This brief note, slipped lightly in by the translator, Jerry Pinto, beautifully […]