Smiling Nabobs

The tears in Bengal and the smiling British nabobs

(This initiative has been postponed)
A play for December 2021

The year 2021 is very significant for Bangladeshis everywhere. It is the fiftieth year of the creation of Bangladesh.

For most people in Bangladesh and Bangladeshi Diaspora worldwide, anniversary remembrance will focus on events and activities that unfolded during the nine-month war of liberation in 1971.

Brick Lane Circle is planning to utilise the medium of drama to bring to life the story of how Bengal lost its independence to the British in 1757, more than a quarter millennia ago, including pre-Battle of Plassey dynamics, the conquest and what unfolded during the following quarter-century.

Based on facts and fresh examination of evidence, the reading play and the full theatrical piece will explore what happened during the first quarter-century after the British victory at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The focus will be on the forces unleashed by the new British masters that led to a series of tragedies in the conquered land, including the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-71, while wealth drain from Bengal created a new class of nouveau rich in Britain who became known as nabobs. How these nabobs were perceived and treated by the British public will also form part of the story.

But before that, on 13 October 2021, I will deliver a talk as part of the Bengal History Week 2021 on

How Robert Clive spent his Bengal loot after the Battle of Plassey (23 June 1757) buying lavish properties and estates in Britain

At the presentation, I will try to provide a rough idea of the:

  1. Total official income that he derived from his Bengal conquest on 23 June 1757 – share of the spoils, annual revenue from a Moghul Jagir (1759-1774), returned from his investment of Bengal loot (rent from estates and East India Company shares) and salary as the governor-general of Bengal during his third voyage to Asia (1764-67).
  2. Total expenditures – gifts to friends and relatives; purchase of properties and estates; improvement and renovation works; buying artworks, furniture, etc.

I hope you will join the seminar on 13 October and the reading play on 18 December 2021; engage with me, share your knowledge and perspectives and help make the events very informative. 

Any comments and feedback on the proposed project will be appreciated. Please email your response to [email protected]