Nil Darpan; Or, the Indigo Planting Mirror: A Drama is a Bengali play depicting the plight of the farmers in Bengal during the Indigo Revolt of 1859.
Written by Dinabandhu Mitra in real-time and published a year later, the drama reflects the realities of Bengali peasantry under the rule of the East India Trading Company. It recounts how the farmers were manipulated into a violent cycle of economic dependence by the indigo planters, the exploitation the people and the land, and the subsequent revolt. They were forced to plant indigo due to the demand for textiles, despite it degrading the soil.
The drama was a critical text that shone a light on the horrific treatment many in Bengal experienced. It was translated into English by Reverend John Long in 1861, who also added an introduction and dispatched 500 copies in Official Government envelopes. This caused an uproar amongst many indigo planters and subsequently led to Long’s arrest and short imprisonment.
This edition by Read & Co. Classics features Bengali poet and playwright, Michael Madhusudan Dutt’s translation and introduction, as well as a preface by the author himself. Also including a biographical sketch by Bankimchandra Chattopadhaya. It continues to be an interesting read for anyone interested in the cultural history of Bengal, especially whilst under the Company’s rule.