Historian and author Manu S Pillai draws an intriguing portrait of the rulers of India's princely states as we have rarely seen them before. He talks about how they contributed to the anti-British nationalist movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries, modernised their states and fought imperialism through good governance. Accompanying Manu’s talk was a pop-up exhibition at the Sarmaya Talks venue in Pundole's. It featured royal portraits from the Sarmaya collection featuring characters from ‘False Allies’ , including Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda, Nizam Mahboob Ali Khan of Hyderabad and Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV of Mysore.
Manu S Pillai is the author of the award-winning 'The Ivory Throne' (2015), 'Rebel Sultans' (2018) and 'The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin' (2019). In his most recent book, 'False Allies: India’s Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma' (2021), he tracks the travels of iconic painter Ravi Varma through five princely states to present an intriguing profile of India’s maharajahs.