New Siddhartha Bose play marking 70th anniversary of Indian independence to premiere at Brighton Festival

Blog | Published on February 16, 2017


Premiering at the Brighton Festival in the 70th anniversary year of Indian independence, poet Siddhartha Bose weaves together true and fictional tales of British colonialism and its legacy.

An extraordinary odyssey

Julian Sands, BBC Radio 4 (on Kalagora)

Starting with the true story of a young woman’s attack on an all-whites club with a sign that reads ‘No Dogs, No Indians’, Siddhartha Bose’s play looks at three generations of resistance, sacrifice and discovery at the end of the British Empire in India and in the years that followed. No Dogs No Indians follows a young female revolutionary prepared to risk her own life in defiance of British Rule in 1932, an aspiring intellectual Anglophile in 1970s Kolkata, and his son in 2017, whose life in London is interrupted by an urgent trip home. The play asks how far we should go to resist oppression, what we choose to remember, and whether some wounds are never meant to heal.

No Dogs, No Indians draws on the tragic and little known story of Pritilata Waddedar, a philosophy graduate who joined a revolutionary group headed by Surya Sen, a Bengali activist who was influential in the Indian independence movement. Waddedar led a team of revolutionaries in an attack on the all-whites club in Chittagong, setting fire to it. She was fatally wounded by British officers, and to avoid arrest she consumed cyanide, dying aged just 21.

Weaving in the fictional tale of Shyamal Chatterjee, whose friends call him a “brown sahib” because he is in love with all things British, from Shakespeare to The Beatles, and his son Ananda, returning to India in 2017 to find an India of steel magnates and tech billionaires, Bose’s play considers the legacy of the British in India from the violent suppression of dissent in colonial India to the modern superpower of today.

This summer it will be 70 years since the signing of the 1947 Indian Independence Act, the creation of Pakistan and the conclusion of 350 years of the British Empire in India. Marking the anniversary year, No Dogs, No Indians, will premiere at Brighton Festival, whose Guest Director this year is Kate Tempest, ahead of a UK tour to venues including London’s Southbank Centre.

Siddhartha Bose is a writer, poet and playwright based in London. His books include two poetry collections, Kalagora and Digital Monsoon (Penned in the Margins, 2010/13), and a monograph on the grotesque, Back and Forth (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015). Sid has been featured on BBC 4, BBC Radio 3, BBC Asian Network, and was dubbed one of the ‘ten rising stars of British poetry’ by The Times. Sid’s theatre work includes a play, also called Kalagora, which had an acclaimed run at Edinburgh Fringe 2011, London’s Perverted Children, long-listed for an Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust award, and The Shroud. He has made a film on Mumbai, Animal City, and guest-edited a special issue of the literary journal Wasafiri (Routledge) on international urban writing. Sid was a Leverhulme Fellow in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London (2011-13).

Siddhartha Bose said:

No Dogs, No Indians dramatises the psychological violence of the colonial encounter, and places the epic drama of modern India in dialogue with a forgotten story from its colonial past. No monsoons, maharajas, or call centres- instead, the play explores systems of cultural oppression in India and questions whether, even seventy years after independence, it is truly free from the legacies of the Raj.

Company Information

Written by Siddhartha Bose

Directed by Russell Bender

Produced by Penned in the Margins

Press Contact: Elin at Mobius 020 3195 6269


17 – 18 May
Brighton Festival at the Spire, St Mark’s Chapel, Eastern Rd, Brighton BN2 5JN
8pm | £17.50 (U26s £12.50, Festival Standby £10) | | 01273 709709

21 May
Alchemy Festival at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX
2pm & 5.30pm | £12 (£6 concs) | 020 7960 4200

24 May
Norwich Arts Centre, St Benedict’s Street, Norwich NR2 4PG
Part of Norfolk & Norwich Festival
8pm | £10 | 01603 660352

Live Theatre, Newcastle Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3DQ
Details TBC | 0191 232 1232

Commissioned by Brighton Festival, Southbank Centre, Live Theatre, GemArts, Writers’ Centre Norwich and Norwich Arts Centre. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

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