Satyajit Ray and Siraj-Ud-Daulah

Diwan Mohanlal was a Diwan of Siraj-Ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal at Murshidabad. The Nawab made the decision of elevating a Hindu bureaucrat Mohanlal as his supreme Diwan. The elevation of a Hindu to such a prominent position furnished the Muslim nobility, and in particular Mir Jafar, it was a great offense. Mir Jafar was then the top of the defense force, second solely to the Nawab, and the elevation of a Hindu to a post above him was taken almost as a personal insult. In this post, I will try to analyse relation between Satyajit Ray and Siraj-Ud-Daulah.


Mohanlal was born in the early eighteen century in a very Royal Lal Yadav family of Purnea. He married Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah’s younger sister Shahzadi Afseen Begum. Then together with her, he had two sons & a girl. Their names were Raja Sreemant lal, Hukka lal, and Galib-Un-Nessa. Mohanlal was appointed “PESKAR” by Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah on 16 April 1756 and bestowed “Maharaja” once Manihari War on 16 October 1756.
Mohanlal, who came from Purnea, as far power is a concern; he used to share equal responsibility of the Prime Minister. Mohanlal had a sister. Her name was Madhabilata. She was exceptionally gorgeous. Due to her immense beauty, that lady was called ‘Hira’.

Siraj succeeded his maternal grandfather, Alivardi Khan because of the Nawab of Bengal in April 1756 at the age of 23. Betrayed by Mir Jafar, then commander of Nawab’s army, Siraj lost the Battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757. The forces of the East India Company under Clive invaded and therefore the administration of Bengal fell into the hands of the corporate. Siraj-Ud-Daulah was fascinated by the beauty of Hira. Sirajuddaula’s intimacy with Mohanlal’s sister Hira, gradually intense! At that time, Siraj-Ud-Daulah ran away with Hira.

Siraj was born to Zain-Ud-Din Ahmed Khan and Amina Begum in 1733, and soon after his birth, Siraj’s maternal grandfather, Alivardi Khan was appointed as the Deputy Governor of Bihar. Accordingly, he was raised at the Nawab’s palace with all necessary education and training suitable for a future Nawab. Young Siraj additionally attended Alivardi on his military ventures against the Marathas in 1746. Siraj was considered the “fortune child” of the family. Since birth Siraj, had special affection from his grandfather. In May 1752, Alivardi Khan declared Siraj as his successor. Alivardi Khan died on 10 April 1756 at the age of eighty.

Now coming to the original story. The illegal romance of youth resulted; Hira gave birth to an illegitimate son of Siraj. As usual, Siraj-Ud-Daulah stopped meeting Hira. He knew that elderly Alivardi khan would get very angry when he would get this news. Siraj-Ud-Daulah requested Hira to keep the childbirth secret and the information did not reach the ears of Alivardi Khan.
But he knew the son was growing up, the news could not be kept secret for long. Alivardi Khan will know that sometime. One day in the morning, Siraj-Ud-Daulah came to Hira and said, “Father and son riding on horseback to have a tour!”
Happy Hira handed the son to Siraj-Ud-Daulah. Siraj took his son away inside the empty field, placed on horseback and tied him with that horse. Then threw arrows in the horse’s body. The injured horse ran rage with Siraj’s son on the back!
Hira came running after hearing the news, how will she save the child? Hira ran away to brother Mohanlal. Mohanlal after hearing that news ran his horse to the site of Siraj’s horse. He stopped the horse after reaching the wounded horse. He saved the life of his sister’s son. Mohanlal was very angry on this incident; he decided he would leave Murshidabad with his family.
Alivardi Khan got the news and realized that if that brave and honest Dewan Mohanlal left Siraj then Siraj and Murshidabad would be in danger. He solved this problem, under pressure of the situation, Hira accepted Islam religion. Her new name is Lut-fun-nisa Aleya (controversial). Aleya was married to Siraj in Islamic style. Hirajheel the pond and palace in Murshidabad are known for Siraj’s wife.

When Nawab’s army was confused and upset over the betrayal of Mirzafar in Palashi, Mohanlal realized that the English soldiers would now capture all the Nawab families. They will kill Siraj-Ud-Daulah and his descendants.
Mohanlal came out of the battlefield and spread the message that he was wounded in the war. The news of the wounds of Mohanlal’s in war spread like wildfire. Mohanlal rushed to the palace of Siraj-Ud-Daulah. He ran away with the Kid of Siraj.

He was escorted with his two trusted companions Basudeb and Harananda. They took refuge to Mymensingh’s Bokainagar fort. Mohanlal has provided security to the child of his sister and kept him to Basudev’s uncle, Binod Roy.
Mohanlal went to Krishnakishor Chowdhury, the eldest son of Srikrishna Chowdhury, the landlord (Jamindar) of Mymensingh in the disguise of a sannyasin (monk), told him to adopt a child of six-year-old
Landlord Srikrishna Chowdhury had two sons Krishna Kishore and Krishnagopal. Young boy Krishnogopal married twice, but he did not have any children. Krishnagopal agreed to adopt a child.

Krishnagopal questioned, “Whose son?” Mohanlal concealed the real identity of the child that time and mentioned, “Basudeb’s uncle Binode Roy’s second child.”
None of Krishnakishore or Krishnagopal knew that they were adopting the son of Siraj-Ud-Daula. Krishnogopal organized a big program. He invited all the zamindari members in the adoption ceremony of the son. The son has been named Jugalkishore Roy Chowdhury.

The new name of the son of Siraj is Jugalkishore Roychoudhury. In this way, Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah’s family of Murshidabad started a new journey. This story remained unexplored to all except Mohanlal’s two trusted friends Basudeb and Harananda. Another person knew this secret, he was Binod Ray.

Srikrishna Roy Chowdhury’s son Krishnogopal married twice but had no children. Jugalkishore Roy Chowdhury grew up in his family. Not only that, the Zamindari of Mymensingh has been managed by him quite intelligently. However, later on, the real identity of Jugalkishore exposed to two wives of Krishna Gopal. And the dispute begins which went up to the court.

At that time, Jugalkishore Chowdhury knew about his true identity. He was actually the son of Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah. His two adopted mothers could take him to the British government. The fear of the British was in the minds of Jugalkishore. He knew well that as he was the real ancestor of Siraj, the British government could give him capital punishment. That is why Jugalkishore hides in Shreehatta district of today’s Bangladesh.

Jugalkishore Roy Chaudhury married Rudrani Devi of Bhattacharya family in Japoor village of Faridpur district (now in Bangladesh). In her womb, two sons of named Harkishore and Shivkishore were born. Four more daughters born and they were named Annada, Baroda, Mokshada and Mukheda.

Shivkishore’s life span was not very much. Shiva Kishore married Bhagirathi Devi, daughter of Kashinath Majumdar from the village of Brikutsha in Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh) district. A girl named Krishnamoni was born in her womb. Krishnamani died at a young age after the death of her father Shivkishore.

After the death of two sons of Rudraani Devi, Jugalkishore married again. The second wife of Jugalkishore was Yamuna and she gave birth to a son named Prankrishnanath Roy Chowdhury. In the verge of the end of his life, Jugalkishore told his life history to his son Prankrishnanath. At the same time, he informed Prankrishnanath to keep this information secret because the British government could create a problem if they knew their true identity. By 1811-12 Jugalkishore died.

Afterward, Prankrishnath Roy Chaudhuri carried forward the legacy of Siraj-Ud-Daulah’s family. Prankrishnath Roy Chowdhury’s first son was Kajal, died at the age of 12. The second son, Shurindrakishore Roy Chowdhury, was involved in the anti-British movement. Pranakrishnath was very scared to know about that issue.

He advised his son Shaurindrakishore to stay away from all these activities by informing his family identity. By the advice of his father and to avoid the Britishers, he had changed his mind to study. The name of Shourindrakishore was changed to Prasanna Chandra Roy Chowdhury and later Prasanna Kumar Dey by himself only (may be due to antinational activity, his real name was in the police logbook that time). In 1848, he received a scholarship and was admitted to Hindu College. At that time, the Hindu College was converted into Presidency College.

Prasanna Kumar Dey or Prasanna Chandra Choudhury alias Shourindrakishore Roy Chowdhury married three times. In the womb of first wife Tripuraswari, one son born and two sons from second wife Mohini, and third wife, Hiranmayee, gave birth of three sons and one daughter. The name of the first son, born in the womb of Prasanna Chandra Choudhury alias Shourindrakishore Roy Chowdhury first wife, Tripuraswari, is Upendrakishore Roy Chaudhury.

Also read, Indira Gandhi and her German teacher, Frank Oberdorf

Upendrakishore Roy Choudhury is a very popular name in Bengali literature. The father of literary writer Sukumar Ray and filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s grandfather was Upendrakishore Roy Choudhury. Although there is no contact among the other descendants of Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah, with the famous Ray family of Bengal.

References: ‘Sirajer Putro O Bonshodharder Sondhane’ (In search of Siraj’s son and his descendants) by Amalendu Dey.
Ġulām Ḥusain Salīm (1902). The Riyazu-s-Salatin, A History of Bengal. Translated by Salam, Maulavi Abdus. Calcutta: The Asiatic Society. p. 363-370.
“The women in Siraj Ud-Daulah’s life”. The Daily Star. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2017.

Disclaimer: The information was taken from the excerpts from the above-mentioned source. The doesn’t endorse or reject any views of the source and is no way responsible for any misinformation in the source.

2 thoughts on “Satyajit Ray and Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah”

  1. How could be confirmed that this was the very Upendra Kishore Ray choudhury the paternal grandfather of Satyajit Ray ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *